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Glass processors confident of continuing growth

Post Time:Mar 16,2016Classify:Industry NewsView:437

Glass processors are confident of continuing long term growth despite market pressures, according to the outputs of an industry forum hosted by Bohle.  

 

The roundtable event held on 9th March was attended by glass processors and IGU manufacturers, selected to represent a cross-section of the industry.

Topics for discussion ranged from convergence in the glass processing and IGU manufacturing sectors to the impact of a referendum on UK membership of the EU, painting a picture of a market in the grip of change but one that is nonetheless, confident about its’ long term opportunities.

Dave Broxton, Managing Director, Bohle, said: “Glass processing and IGU sectors in common with other sectors of the glass industry are under pressure, with a requirement to invest for long term growth, at the same time as facing pressure on margins.

“But what came out loud and clear from discussions, was that there has been a return of confidence and that despite these challenges, the sector expects sustained growth.”

Among the glass processors and IGU manufacturers represented at the event were, EJ Cocker & Sons; Cheadle Glass; Float Glass Industries; and The Glass Man Wishaw.

Discussion focussed on an assessment of the current market, with the traditional model and medium-sized glass processors coming under pressure from smaller low-cost operations from below and larger volume suppliers from above.

At the same time, larger glass processors and IGU manufacturers said that low-cost imports of finished products had in some cases eroded market share but imported glass was a source of opportunity in other areas.

The price paid for product by the end user combined with extraordinary demands on quality were cited as a challenge by all of those in attendance regardless of the size of their operation.

Keith Flowers, Chairman of Cheadle Glass arguing that consumers had become more discerning and had higher expectations but wanted ‘a premium product without being prepared to pay for it’.

David Offland MD Float Glass Industries suggested that the glass processing sector needed to re-evaluate its pricing structure and the way that it worked together as ‘trade suppliers, to be more disciplined and stop offering discounted rates to the end user”.

Another theme that came out from the forum was that regardless of scale, commercial work, from office partitioning to curtain walling, represented significant opportunities for growth going forward. Flowers stating that he expected office and commercial work to be a key driver of business.

Architectural systems, for example balustrades and staircases were also cited as growth areas.

Specialist products were also identified as growth areas. Andy Cocker, EJ Cocker & Sons reporting continued and sustained growth in its heritage insulated glass business. Working with specialist joiners, he said a growing number of Listed Building refurbishments had supported EJ Cocker’s expansion.

He added that balustrading has also contributed significantly to EJ Cocker’s growth, and given the company’s proximity to London, increased demand for acoustic glass.

Specialism was also identified as a key foundation for growth by Alex Simpson, The Glass Man, who said sales of the company’s patented Infinity clear return double glazed units, - which are manufactured using Bohle UV bonding technology - had grown, driven by demand from the architectural sector.

A wider discussion on IGU manufacture suggested triple-glazing had not and would not have a significant impact on the market in the medium term. “We saw with the triple-glazing question a couple of years ago that the industry didn’t really want triple-glazing”, said Offland.

He continued: “What it actually wanted were more energy efficient double-glazed units. I think what we’re going to see is the performance of DGUs move forward significantly and the manufacturing technology is there. People just need to be prepared to pay for it.”

Offland added that glass processors had collectively been guilty of underplaying the ability to bring a design element into their market offer, citing glass printing as a significant area of opportunity but also one where glass processors could add value, and there for margin. This was echoed by Flowers as part of a discussion on switchable glass.

Looking to the future all were confident of continuing growth in the Glass Processing Sector. Flowers adding: “What we’re going to see is continuing growth but perhaps some rationalisation of product offer as a lot of the growth going forward is going to be driven by shorter lead times and increased market demand.”

Simpson’s closing comments were reflective of a fundamentally optimistic mood. He said: “I personally am still excited by the glass processing industry, the technologies that are coming on line and what they are and are going to allow us to offer. And that makes me confident of future growth.” 

Source: www.bohle-group.comAuthor: shangyi

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