Matthew King, Sales Director at Keylite Roof Windows, discusses how builders’ merchants can stay ahead of the game in the wake of high demand and the challenge of a global materials shortage.
It’s no secret that the UK is experiencing a ‘pandemic property boom’. According to the BBC, the housing market is up 10.5% from last year and Britons are spending billions on home improvements. Last year, stay at home restrictions saw buying and living habits change almost overnight. Since then, pent up spending power and more free time for many — especially during the first national lockdown — has been directed into RMI.
As people found themselves confined to their homes for much of the last 18 months, consumers spent £110.3b on home improvements — an increase of nearly 30% year-on-year, witnessing 5 million Brits redecorate their homes, 1.5 million installing outhouses, and over a million building home-gyms and extensions (figures from Yahoo Finance).
But it wasn’t just a spending stimulus that affected this serge. The pandemic has seen every one of us use our spaces in different ways — the popularity of home offices and the prioritisation of outdoor spaces are two great examples. As people adapt their homes to this new way of living, the proportion of home-workers using home offices is set to grow even further from 34% to 43% (thisismoney.co.uk), while Rightmove states that 2020 saw a staggering 126% per cent increase in enquiries from city residents looking to move to the countryside.
These figures may come as no surprise to many within the construction sector, as manufacturers and suppliers of building materials have witnessed an influx of sales so far this year, with no sign of slowing down.
As a result, these trends have triggered a spike in sales for building materials and in turn, demand for merchants to supply these products. At Keylite, we’ve seen astronomical demand for our loft ladders as homeowners are transforming their unused spaces, and we’re seeing huge growth in our core centre-pivot roof window range and showstopping roof lanterns — both popular choices for home extensions.
One thing that has really stood out in recent times is how much installers and housebuilders are prioritising product innovations. There are plenty of roof window brands on the market, but Keylite’s unique patented features are earning rave reviews from trades and end-users alike for quick and easy installation, and guaranteed maximum performance.
Not all plain sailing
Although these trends have been fantastic for both merchant and manufacturer sales, this year’s boom has collided with the kick-off of Brexit which, coupled with the global demand for core materials including timber, PVC, aluminium, glass, foam, plastic and steel components, has seen many manufacturers experience availability issues and cost increases across markets.
Fortunately, Keylite has managed to fare better than most; our volumes and stock holdings are strong, allowing us to shield our merchant customers from disruption and, up until this point, from any product price pressures.
And Keylite continues to be a big champion of merchants. Our sales teams bring a lot of opportunities back to our merchant partners in order to help them convert leads and upsell for better margins.
However, the pandemic saw a huge change in buying behaviour with the popularity of online shopping — even in B2B markets. This is a movement we can only see increasing in the future, meaning it is imperative that merchants don’t just pass this off as a fleeting trend now that restrictions are lifting. Keylite team members are just at the end of the phone to help partners in this transition, advising on how to adopt online channels within sales strategies and maximise all opportunities.
Training and support
The company has always been known for its product training, demo days and factory tours, but as the industry has had to adapt to remote working and learning, Keylite’s Brand Development Team have been offering group and 1-on-1 online training sessions tailored to merchants. Although these online sessions have allowed us to conveniently connect with even more of our partners across the UK and Ireland, we can’t wait to start welcoming people back into the factory and to get out on the road again.
We also host an exclusive Merchant Training Portal called Keylite Academy — an online tool where merchants can access training modules at any time and place, at the total convenience of the individual and wider team. Merchants can gain a deeper understanding and exclusive insight into the firm’s products and services, which will provide them with the extra support for speaking to customers about our range, and therefore boost sales.
Until November 2021, merchants can even be in for a chance to win ‘special agent’ experiences and gadgets by completing all eight of the Academy’s modules as part of Keylite’s current promotion.
Click here for more information on Keylite Roof Windows, including details of its current ‘special agent’ promotion.
A version of this article appeared in the October edition of PBM. Click the link to read the full digital version of the issue.