Victoria Brocklesby, COO at Origin, the UK’s leading manufacturer of aluminium doors and windows, talks to us about how the rising trend for home improvements brought on by the pandemic is generating an increase in demand within the fenestration industry, and discusses what Origin is doing to support its Partners during this busy period.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the strangest 18-month periods in our recent history. The economic and environmental turbulence have been a lot to handle, but the world is slowly recovering. In the UK, with lockdown restrictions completely eased and people navigating their new normal, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
Although the pandemic brought much disruption, there have been some benefits. For those of us in the fenestration industry, people spending a significant more amount of time at home is one of those. People are prioritising their home living, and now home offices, like never before, and we have consequently witnessed a boom in demand for home improvement projects. Some are extending their homes; others are renovating, and a good proportion are building new homes thanks to Government initiatives like the Help to Build Scheme.
In fact, the latest consumer figures from TGI show that five percent of UK adults anticipate making home improvements in the next year. This equates to 2.5 million people which is a significant number of homeowners in the UK.
This is great news for those working of us in the fenestration industry, but how will the increase in demand impact valuable supply chains, and how can this best be managed?
Surge in Demand
The amount of home renovations and house building taking place in the UK is creating a peak in demand, which test supply chains and their ability to continue delivering in time and in full, especially when we look wider at problems such as shipping delays that are being felt across the globe. Other major external projects, like Crossrail and HS2, are also using a considerable amount of materials, so it’s easy to see why some people are panicking. A lack of materials causes delays, and delays cost both time and money. They can result in poor cashflow, mean companies miss out on future business, and even harm a business’ reputation. All of which must be avoided at all costs.
In my opinion, it is possible to ensure that the supply chain continues to work for you, despite these challenges. In Origin’s case, we have navigated safely through a tricky period and continued to deliver for our network of Partners, with the quality of our product not being compromised in the process.
So, across the Brexit, COVID and now post-COVID peak periods, how have we been able to keep our Partners happy and in stock?
There’s an old saying in business that you must speculate to accumulate. Well, although it may sound counterintuitive to spend money during a period of economic uncertainty, we took it as an opportunity to significantly invest in our stock levels. In doing so, we worked harder than ever before to foster great relationships with our supply chain. Brexit also held us in good stead here as we were already working hard to ensure that we wouldn’t be caught out by trade regulation changes. As well as supplier relations, we also invested in a new warehouse facility in Bicester which has allowed us to increase our capacity by 82 percent. The level of stock we can maintain means that our Partners, plus builders, installers, and housebuilders across the UK, have been able to fully rely on us to deliver on time, in full, no matter the demand.
We also benefit from being a British manufacturer. Our products are manufactured at our factory in High Wycombe, and this has allowed us to maintain control over our entire operation, from sourcing and design, through to manufacturing and delivery. So, our Partners can rest assured that the products leaving our factory are of the highest standard, and they will arrive with them on the designated day by our own fleet.
Social distancing rules meant that we did have to adapt our way of working in the warehouse, and quickly, so that the impact of the pandemic didn’t affect our ‘On Time, In full’ promise. To help us maintain our production processes, we innovated to introduce a two-shift pattern, allowing us to get back to full capacity quickly. This is something post-pandemic that we are keeping in place, as it allows us to further increase capacity, and better protect our employees in case of a positive COVID test.
Plus, we have added more products to OSS, Origin’s own unique ordering and quoting system, and access this 24/7. This allows our Partners to create bespoke customer projects in a matter of minutes at a time that suits them. They can even make changes across an entire order at the click of a button. This unique way of ordering means our Partners can spend more time building their business instead of doing paperwork.
Those who have managed to navigate through 18-months of uncertainty are now presented with a huge new business opportunity. For those that have struggled, there is reason to be optimistic. There is a surge in demand across the industry, so now it the time to capitalise on it; don’t sit and watch it go by.
Futureproofing your business now means you will be better prepared for anything thrown at you later down the road. Bold business decisions can set you on the path to success and having a dependable manufacturer behind you will give you the confidence boost you need to meet this demand and take your business to the next level.
For more information about Origin, please visit www.origin-global.com