It’s been a rough 12 months for the construction sector. Disasters – like the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the collapse of Carillion – have conspired with unusual weather to shake markets. But, while joinery has not been completely untouched by this turbulence, it’s holding up surprisingly well. In fact, according to the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), business is booming!
BWF Chief Executive, Iain McIlwee, made the following statement: “According to our latest state of trade survey, at the end of Q1 this year around 60% of our members had experienced growth, with just 16% falling back. Few (just 14%) see the market going back over the next 12 months, with 30% predicting growth of over 5%.”
While McIlwee did say that rising prices were putting pressure on margins, and “we are only starting” to see the impact of Grenfell and Carillion, there’s no doubt that joiners are seeing solid business. Meanwhile, other construction professionals are struggling.
One reason for that discrepancy is that big events – no matter how worrisome or tragic – have a limited impact at the “grass roots” level. People still move house, people still want new doors, windows and furniture.
Helen Hewitt, The BWF’s membership director and lead on the Wood Window Alliance, said: “One of the driving factors on the fenestration market is property transactions. Many home movers make improvements relatively quickly after they have moved in.”
“According to data from Palmer Market Research, over the past circa 20 years the percentage of replacement has never been below 15% of the market. This has slowed up a bit, running about 1% below 2017 levels and, with new builds taking a higher proportion, by rights the window market should be slowing. But we’re not seeing that.”
Mrs. Hewitt added: “in 2016 wood accounted for around 15% of the window market, so there is plenty of room for growth. According to our research, one in four home owners is planning to decrease the amount of plastics in their home this year. Conversely, timber is cited by 67% of homeowners as the material they would like to have more of in their homes. This can only be good for wood windows.” And, indeed, it can only be good for wood all round.