Home Fabrictor’s Corner Is the landscape in retail about to be shifted?

Is the landscape in retail about to be shifted?

An open letter from Ryan Johnson, Managing Director of Emplas.

The start to 2022? It’s been ok. And I suppose we knew it would be. Our customers are still working their way through big order books and that means that we’re also busy.

What’s slightly different to this time last year is that we have more control. Our supply chain is performing better and many of the systems and processes that we put in place last year to help manage demand are now bedded in and we’re operating more efficiently than we ever have.

We’re also continuing to attract new customers and we’re back to being good at what we have built our reputation on. That’s service, support, and product innovation.

That’s reflected in the launch of our new smart complaints process this month.

We get things wrong (although we try not to). Accessed through EVA, the Emplas customer portal, our customers can raise a complaint and place an instant order for a replacement product from site and from their mobile phone.

This appears in a real-time customer service dashboard and is categorized with new targeted response times, so that critical replacements, for example where they represent a security or safety risk, are fast-tracked through the production process.

It’s about service, our service to our customers and their service offer to the end-user.

That’s important because retail will slow down this year. Those word-of-mouth recommendations, Trust Pilot reviews – they’re going to start to count again.

Household budgets are going to be squeezed. The Bank of England issued a warning at the start of this month [Feb] that it expects rate of inflation to hit 7% by this spring. Spiralling energy costs and increased import costs way above the bank’s target rate of 2%.

That means very simply that homeowners will have less cash to spend.

It doesn’t mean that we’re heading towards a cliff-edge, only things are going to slow from the exceptionally high levels of demand that we have seen in the last two-years.

The housing market has slowed, largely because of affordability and low levels of stock, but prices continue to rise. This should give homeowners with equity in their properties the confidence to invest, even if the return of Stamp Duty may dissuade them from moving.

Sharper energy prices from April and increased awareness surrounding energy efficiency, may also be enough to encourage homeowners who have held off on improvements, to reach into their pockets.

I also believe that there is another legacy from Covid and that is that having spent more time in their homes than they ever have done in the last two-years, consumers see their properties differently. They are more aspirational, more willing to spend.

That coincides with the shift into the mainstream of new generation products, foils and flush. We’ve seen demand for our new range of foils and the Optima Flush Casement, increase significantly in the last 12-months.

It’s been the same for our range of aluminium doors and windows. The products we supply are now far less of a commodity than they are an aspirational purchase, personal choice and taste come into play – and everyone’s taste, is slightly different.  That also creates tomorrow’s market.


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