We knew the road back from COVID and Lockdown would be bumpy but the challenges we and the window and door industry have contended with in the past year, have far exceeded our expectations.
It’s been incredibly tough, everyone’s expended a massive amount of energy, and people are tired, if not exhausted. Trying to manage suppliers, customers, and exponential growth in demand has been challenging in the extreme.
We’re now in the tail-end of this year and are no doubt looking forward to a better year ahead. It is, however, worth noting that some of the challenges that we have seen in the last year are likely to be with us for some time to come.
Resin and glass supplies remain under pressure, steel prices remain high. The cost of shipping containers continues to escalate – up $6,000 since April this year – disrupting supply of anything delivered in them, from hardware to composites.
That’s before you build a shortage of labour, particularly lorry drivers, and the impact of COVID into the equation.
The fix to those problems isn’t going to be delivered over night. If you have encountered issues with your supply chain this year (and let’s face it, everyone has), the odds are that the start of 2022 is probably not going to feel so very different, however much we hope it will.
I’m not going to pretend to have the answers. We are subject to the same forces for good or bad as everyone else.
What I would go as far as saying is that I believe that we have managed those challenges as well as anyone, if not better than most.
It’s been no walk in the park, but we have maintained our OTIF at 90%. That’s down 7% on where we were pre-COVID, and 10% on where in an ideal world we would want to be – but it’s not bad going, given the challenges we have seen.
We’ve seen our foils offer continue to grow. We hold 30 colourways in stock with 20 additional colours available in just 15 working days. Deceuninck fabricators sell twice as much colour as their competitors, while this year foil sales have made up 60% of our turnover.
We’ll also hit £50million turnover this year. That includes new customer wins. More importantly, it reflects the gains in market share seen by our pre-existing customer base in the last year.
I can’t guarantee that we will be able to improve, or deliver the same service levels again, next year. That would be pure speculation given the continuing COVID-generated flux and uncertainty.
I can only point to what we have delivered and say that going into the new year we are more adapted to the challenges that we have seen. We have made a multi-million investment in our UK plant, in our foiling capacity, and in our recycling capability as a group.
We are in short stronger than we have ever been. We would encourage fabricators to take time out now to reflect on the last 12-months and the service levels that they have seen from their systems and wider supply chain.
As I’ve said, no one’s been perfect, but if they’re not going to get better, could you survive another quarter, six-months, a year, of the same?
We can’t control the impact of COVID or labour shortages, but it is in our gift to change supplier if we believe we’re not getting the service that we need. Recognising that in time is going to be very important.