Industry news report: how Covid 19 restrictions have affected the mouldings sector
The latest issue of the Timber Trades Journal (TTJ) focuses on the mouldings sector and Mike Jeffree, the Editor of TTJ Online, reports on how the challenge for mouldings manufacturers after the initial impact of the pandemic has been to keep up with demand.
After predicting a quiet year following the first lockdown when many customers battened down the hatches and activity within the construction industry was severely reduced, mouldings manufacturers have been surprised to find that there has been a great surge in demand with each month bringing a new sales record.
“There was huge uncertainty,” said SAM sales director Gerard Wilson. “It was a case of fearing for the worst but hoping for the best.
As lockdown relaxed, manufacturers started to see the market spring back into action. At SAM, we were helped in getting production moving by our customers opening up in stages. “Whatever the pressure to increase manufacturing, we were determined to do it in a safe way, and the fact we had this staggered return to activity, rather than facing a sudden tsunami of orders helped,” said Gerard. “First, we had the RMI sector and DIY outlets increasingly busy, in-store and online, and needing material. Then from June, we saw the resurrection of housebuilding.”
Mike’s report recognises that this market turnaround was due to the rise in DIY, home refurbishment and remodelling projects as a result of lockdown and people working from home.
“It became clear pretty quickly that people in lockdown were starting to do things around the house,” agreed Gerard. “And we’ve seen our merchant customers adapt to this to take their share of the market, to capture the range of customers, from the white van trade to the couple doing up their living room. While housebuilding is now back, many merchants have been intent on keeping their presence in this market, so they’ve now got a nice spread of business. We’ve focused on helping them in this with marketing support.”
There has also been a huge shift to buying online and SAM has been actively helping customers present their products to best advantage.
Gerard continues, “Our marketeers act as secret shoppers, making sure that buying a SAM product on a customer’s website is a slick, efficient, pleasant experience. We’ll then advise on how they might refresh or renew the way they display SAM products online. The response is really positive and it’s a mutually beneficial partnership. The more they sell, the more we manufacture.”
Manufacturers have reported a consumer demand for greater choice due to their ability to search and buy online. SAM reacted to this by launching a new contemporary stock range.
“While maintaining our selection of traditional designs, such as torus, ogee and pencil round, our new Stock Range includes a contemporary collection that’s very 2021. This is characterised by very minimalist designs, such as square-edged styles, perhaps with a small groove or chamfer. It has had a very positive reaction with our customers.” Gerard commented.
Different finishes also offer more choice for the consumer and alongside the ‘bread and butter’ primed MDF products, SAM still sees further ‘market entry opportunities’ for MDF given its defect-free and performance characteristics compared to timber. For example, wood veneered product remains important, although the wrapped market is now a mix of real wood and paper-wrapped ranges. The demand for SAM Zero fully finished MDF mouldings for the offsite, modular build and DIY sectors continues to grow.