The boss of one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of high-quality windows, doors, home extensions and conservatory products has hit out at the Scottish Government for continuing to enforce a Covid-19 lockdown that prevents work being completed in homes – unless it is essential maintenance.
This rule, which is not in place in England and Wales, means Conservatory Outlet’s five home improvement specialist companies north of the border are not able to take on new work, resulting in a £multi-million loss of orders and over 250 direct or indirect staff currently furloughed.
Greg Kane is urging the powers that be at Holyrood to lift the regulations that are causing the sector so much unnecessary pain and allow them to trade under Covid-secure guidelines so they can start new projects and complete existing jobs.
This will help hundreds of firms, including the five in its current network – Balhousie, Bon Accord Glass, Crystal Clear Home Improvements, ERG Scotland and Mitchell Glass, the latter being the longest established glazing business in the country.
“We find ourselves in a really frustrating position in that our online leads are 94% up on this time last year, but we can’t progress any of them due to the draconian nature of the Scottish law,” explained Greg, who is Chief Executive of Wakefield-based Conservatory Outlet.
“Installers and surveyors aren’t allowed to work at the moment unless it is essential maintenance, so despite a massive demand for home improvements, we have had to furlough the majority of staff across the five companies, including young apprentices just starting out.”
He continued: “The restrictions need to be lifted immediately to allow Scottish home improvement businesses to fit existing jobs, collect outstanding monies and to capitalise on new sales to support our recovery.
“No explanation has been given as to why the Scottish rules are different and, if things don’t change, we’ll be left in limbo until the end of April at the earliest. This, simply, is not good enough.”
Conservatory Outlet, which employs 174 people at its 60,000 sq ft factory in Wakefield, sells its products across a 26-strong retail network of installation companies.
It has been active in Scotland since 2011 when Mitchell Glass became its first Scottish retailer, joined by Crystal Clear Home Improvements in 2015 and Balhousie, Bon Accord Glass and ERG three years ago.
Greg continued: “It shouldn’t be allowed to be left to the whim of Ms Sturgeon, who is looking to push her own political ambitions.
“This is a hugely important decision for the recovery of our industry and many others. Strong businesses are being straight-jacketed at a time when demand for their products has never been higher.
“Our Scottish dealers have innovated to use Zoom, Facetime and our new 3D design app to give customers an insight of how products will look in the home. It is a really popular approach, with potential online leads up 94% on this time in 2020.”
He concluded: “We’ll continue to work with the Glass & Glazing Federation to see if we can instigate change and would appreciate it if even more Scottish consumers write to their MPs complaining about the disparity in rules.”
For further information, please visit www.conservatoryoutlet.co.uk or follow @conservatoryuk