Unbelievable.  Another year goes by and here we are with yet another December edition of Glass News.  Christmas and the New Year: a time to relax and enjoy, that is unless you have children, grandchildren, and you’ve been nominated to cook the turkey – the whole Christmas feast with all the trimmings.  In that case, as we all know, this time of year is both busy and expensive!

However, we should all be congratulating ourselves on making it through 2021.  No one can pretend it has been easy but there are positive signs that the supply chain is improving which must give us some encouragement to embrace the New Year and look forward to 2022.  The ever-increasing costs of raw materials, transport and people is not something that is going to go away and it is imperative that a fair proportion of those costs get passed on to the customers.  In fact, as the restrictions have eased and more and more face-to-face conversations have taken place the chat inevitably turns towards that thorny question “When will the bubble burst?”  Although a difficult year in so many ways it has certainly been boom time for home improvements, but can it continue? The consensus seems to be that retail demand will remain high for some time to come and at a recent Editors’ Day at fabricator, Sternfenster, everyone agreed.  And also agreed that when things return to normal, whatever normal is, professionalism and customer service will be the differentiator while good marketing to generate leads will be essential, as will be building margin into pricing models.

I was pleased to meet Gary Hyem from FRP Advisory at the Glazing Summit last month and I’m even more pleased that he has agreed to involve his colleagues and write a series of articles for Glass News.  FRP is one of the UK’s largest independent business advisory firms specialising in corporate restructuring, corporate finance, forensic services, pensions advisory and debt advisory.  The first of these articles appears this month, penned by Tony Barrell, and looks at the issue of cashflow pressure during what he believes will be a challenging winter ahead.  I hope these articles that will look at mergers and acquisitions, management buyouts and buy ins, securing financing and selling businesses will prove to be of interest and, indeed, help those looking to acquire, expand or exit their business.

We’ve all talked about ‘pandemic’, ad infinitum, but what I hadn’t realised is the effect the ‘pingdemic’ has had on businesses.  I guess being shut away in my ivory tower (I wish!) I hadn’t appreciated what happens when the dreaded ping comes in to say someone has been in contact with another who has tested positive for Covid-19.  Talking within the trade about the difficulty in attracting people to fill vacancies it has been said that that isn’t the biggest problem…it’s the pingdemic that suddenly leaves big holes in the workforce as they are forced to isolate.  If that ‘ping’ effects the transport and delivery side of the business suddenly the drivers, that many say are hard to find anyway, are locked away in isolation.  Not easy.

So will inflation, an increase in the rate for mortgages, fuel well up over the £1.50 mark and price increases for almost everything, from food to secondhand cars, play its part in depressing business for our industry in 2022?  Funnily enough, I’m not convinced it will.  There seems to be an inexhaustible hunger for home improvements of every kind.  Of course, there are tax increases to come that will wash through the system in the next six months but, nevertheless, I can’t help feeling the future is buoyant and we have to keep on keeping on!

Looking back on 2021 I’ve been trying to identify the aspects that most stand out, for me.  The pandemic has largely become a way of life that we have to live with, I suspect, for ever more, so doesn’t really register on my ‘remembrance scale’.  What does, however, is the mess that is politics today:  our borders that are meant to be secure, the lying and sleaze that seems to pervade all those at Westminster, and I don’t think anyone voted for Carrie Johnson to be Prime Minister.  And a wish for 2022?  Never to hear another word from Meghan and Harry Markle!

I know it’s a bit early but, being the December edition of Glass News, Christina, Justin, Emma, Kate and me, all wish our industry colleagues and friends a Very Happy Christmas.  I think we all deserve a break and the opportunity to bond with friends and family after an, how shall I put it, an interesting year!


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