Why was it important for your business to support our Installer Awards?
Installers are essential to our industry: they are the glue of the sector… they work at the ‘coal face’ of the market fitting windows and doors featuring our hardware and interfacing with end users. We therefore felt it was vital to support these awards to recognise this essential element of the supply chain and celebrate their success.
Which of your products have particular installer and homeowner benefits?
The industry is moving away from being purely a price driven market and any products that offer tangible benefits, such as security features, present a significant advantage to installers and home-owners. Ranges that provide fire rating assurances also present major advantages and are becoming increasingly sought after, such as the Yale Postmaster TS 008 fire rated letterplate.
What has the uptake been like for Smart hardware products? Are you preparing for increased demand for Smart products in future?
There is an upturn in interest for Smart devices including SmartSecure our electronic door locking and access control technology. End users are becoming more discerning, the technology is proven and recognition of applications are becoming more widespread. The transition to digital has been accelerated and there is no doubt that Smart products will continue to feature more prominently in our lives in general and, correspondingly, in the hardware we supply.
How has your business adapted to the changed market conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic? Have lead times had to change?
We have been pleasantly surprised by a rapid and continued bounce-back since the economy reopened in summer 2020. It has not simply been a case of catching up on sales missed during lockdown: demand has been sustained and significant. Maintaining deliveries has been challenging with sales going through the roof further complicated by supply chain difficulties but, as ever, our workforce has adapted, flexing our systems and prioritising customers’ needs.
As everyone working in this industry knows, it has been an extremely challenging time and this should not be underplayed. One year on from the first lockdown we could never have imagined we’d be in this position: April 2020 was spent cancelling and delaying orders compared to April 2021 where we are begging manufacturers for more stock. The position is polarised.
Can the recent high demand for home improvements continue? Will lifting lockdown restrictions burst the bubble, as people look to buy holidays, for example?
There is no doubt that this will have some impact but we have a buoyant housing market that looks set to continue in the short to medium term. Homes have become central to people’s lives; they have invested time and money in renovation and home improvements. Home working is also set to continue at a higher level than before the pandemic… this will inevitably result in increased demand for separate working environments which will positively impact a requirement for hardware.
What new products can we look forward to seeing from your business?
We have increasing ranges for all profile types. Examples of recent launches include Roto hardware for Accoya, an expanded range of FUHR U-Rail door locks for aluminium, Yale Heritage door locks and a number of certified security and fire rated products.
John Crittenden, Managing Director of hardware distributor Carl F Groupco takes a look back at 2020 and gives some predictions for 2021.
Without doubt, difficulties have been faced industry wide with stock and supply - combined with issues of ‘corona proofing’ the working environment and furlough, this made 2020 probably the most challenging year ever for the sector.
Against this bleak backdrop, at Carl F Groupco there were a number of silver linings. Sales rocketed, team spirit carried us through and we have a phenomenal team of people at our Peterborough and Cumbernauld distribution centres including our Sales Managers who continued their sterling work ‘on the road’ (corona restrictions permitting). I talk about our workforce a lot and quite rightly, because our staff step into the breach doing their utmost to fulfil supply commitments.
We will continue to invest in 2021. Our web site will be updated and, to support customers who rely on a printed version of our catalogue, an updated version of our reference source will be produced which features over 7,000 product options, which we believe is unprecedented in the UK’s hardware supply sector.
You can rest assured that Carl F Groupco remains committed and focussed on maintaining stock levels, giving emphasis to On-Time-In-Full deliveries, and supporting our customers through the challenges that the industry will no doubt continue to face in the year ahead. We thank everyone who has supported us through the difficulties of the pandemic and take our hats off to installers, the industry’s unsung heroes who have remained loyal, flexible and responsive.
Article written in support of our sponsorship of the GGP Installer Awards 2021