Suppliers have joined forces to pen an open letter to the fenestration industry, warning that the looming spectre of rising energy costs ‘may prove to be the toughest nut to crack long-term’.
Calling for the industry to show a ‘united front in order to weather a common storm’, the letter advises businesses to pass on surcharges to customers in order to keep trading. It also advocates ‘long-term sustainable business planning’, as opposed to ‘undercutting rivals’ on price, as the sector looks to balance unprecedented demand with global supply chain pressures.
Bosses from 19 fenestration industry companies, including Clayton Glass, Conservatory Outlet, Consort, Emplas, Glazerite UK, Nationwide Windows & Doors, Solar Frame and Sternfenster, have joined forces to address the big issues currently hampering efforts to meet the national appetite for doors, windows, roofing systems and glazing products.
The firms, which are based across the UK and span the supply chain, clearly lay out three of the main challenges currently facing them, including supply disruption, rising prices and energy costs, and significant labour shortages.
Referring to price rises, the letter reads: ‘For the time being at least, the days where price could be leveraged with scale of purchasing and volume buying are over, with all levels of the supply chain opting or needing to prioritise margin on a scarce resource over their top line.
‘This ultimately makes all our products more costly to manufacture and leaves us with no choice but to pass on surcharges and rises to our customers if we want to keep trading. Energy costs are also looming large on the horizon and may prove to be the toughest nut to crack long-term.
‘Please be assured, only those costs that can’t be fully absorbed are passed on, and, in all cases, limited to the lowest extent possible. This must be an approach taken by every level of the supply chain, with the focus moving away from undercutting rivals to focusing on long-term sustainable business planning.’
Ryan Green, MD of Clayton Glass, one of the driving forces behind the letter, said: “I don’t think anyone could have prepared us for what has happened in the last 20 months – from having to close due to Government guidance and making our factories Covid-19 secure, to then having to scale up to cope with what has been a 130% increase in demand for many of us.
“It would have been a big enough challenge on its own, but we are having to achieve this against a backdrop of global shortages in our core materials, workforce uncertainty and now rising prices across the board.”
‘Cocktail of issues’
He continued: “This cocktail of issues has unfortunately caused suppliers across our industry significant difficulties, and we can’t escape the fact lead times have been pushed out and supply has been disrupted.
“The letter isn’t a sob story, it’s more a case of trying to give our customers and, in turn, their customers, a clear insight into what we are all dealing with. It’s not one company doing something wrong, these issues are affecting all of us.”
The open letter to the fenestration industry has been posted on the websites of all signatory companies and shared across their social platforms, with the content also distributed to local, b2b and trade media.
Ryan concluded: “We will continue to work round the clock to deliver a product and service that clients are happy with, and we are confident that together we will correct these issues and things will stabilise – it’s just the timing that is currently uncertain. If any industry can adapt and emerge from this year stronger than ever, it’s ours.”