Summer was defined by shortages. Water, CO2 and closer to home, PVC-U polymers and not least glass, raising further questions about security of supply on top of those already being asked.
It wasn’t just carbonated drinks which lost some of their ‘fizz’ over the summer. The unfortunate coincidence of timing, which left Europe’s CO2 factories offline for maintenance at the same time, was also replicated in float glass manufacture - upstream shortages in glass supply leaving some IGU manufacturers unable to fulfil orders.
Saint Gobain, moving over the summer to reassure its’ customers that despite an ‘awareness’ of shortages, it continued to manufacture ‘normally’. It added that it was ‘being careful to look after our customers as much as possible, allocate where absolutely necessary, and not over commit’.
While summer may now be behind us, the events of July and August, add to the challenges already facing the glass sector as consolidation and the dominance of large players, impacts on prices and the continuing squeeze on smaller IGU manufacturers.
This is something which makes Emplas’ acquisition of Padiham Glass - a Saint Gobain customer - in May this year, appear particularly timely.
Ryan Johnson, Managing Director, Emplas, stated at the time that the fabricator’s decision had been prompted by continuing movement and consolidation in IGU manufacture.
‘It’s this, which has driven our strategic decision to take control of our IGU supply chain’, he said. ‘It’s something which we believe also delivers a number of immediate benefits to Emplas customers with the switch to a Planitherm product also offering additional opportunities, with growing commercial and retail recognition.
‘Most importantly the Padiham Glass acquisition now gives us increased control. Our ownership of it secures supply in a turbulent market place - and guarantees the quality of the IGUs that we supply.’
This is also seen as a key benefit downstream. Caddy Windows began buying in from Emplas in 2014, Nick Porter, Installation Director, arguing that the integrity of supply chain was key.
“Emplas are continuing to invest - that’s very clear from the investment that’s gone into its factory in new machinery. We also see the acquisition of Padiham Glass as a benefit to us as an Emplas customer, because of the instability that we’re currently seeing in glass and IGU supply.
“There’s a lot of speculation about the security of the IGU supply chain and quality can sometimes be inconsistent, which can mean you’re called back out to jobs, which is something we want to avoid.
“As Emplas now has direct control we don’t expect to be hit by those problems and we can plan with a little bit more confidence.”
Discussing the advantages that its acquisition of Padiham Glass delivered to its customers at its’ open day, Emplas also highlighted the importance of its switch to Planitherm product, which it said offered additional opportunities, with growing commercial and retail recognition. This it argued was the product of the significant investment Saint Gobain had made in the Planitherm brand.
This includes a new consumer proposition, including Planitherm Energy Efficiency; Comfort and Comfort Plus options which offer enhanced security laminated, acoustic, UV and solar control options.
“We see the switch to Planitherm as a another positive to have come out of Emplas’ acquisition of Padiham Glass because it gives us three very clearly defined glass specifications to take forward to the end user”, says Nick Caddy, Sales and Marketing Director, Caddy Windows.
He continues: “People are researching glass specifications in a lot more detail and they’re also looking for it to do more. We’re selling more acoustic and solar control glass for example. It’s an opportunity for us to add-value to the end user by selling a more technical product and we can do that through Planitherm Comfort and Comfort Plus.”
Caddy Windows was set up in 1984 by Graham and Margaret Caddy. Three decades on it remains a family-run business, operating throughout Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Employing 24 people, its focus is firmly on retail, whilst also supplying commercial customers.
“In addition to the sales opportunities presented by glass, colour is also important for us. At present around 85% of what we sell is still white but what we’ve seen is rapid growth in foils from a low base point and we expect them to make up a growing proportion of what we do going forward”, continues Caddy.
He adds: “Of the foils we supply anthracite grey is by far and away the dominant colour. It now far exceeds what we do in woodgrains.”
Emplas announced the expansion of its ex-stock colour range at the end of last year. Cutting lead times and reducing costs its’ new offer, has been carefully designed to support installers in tapping into growing end-user demand for premium foiled finishes.
It means that foiled Cream, Anthracite Grey, Anthracite Grey on White, Black Brown, and Black Brown on White are now available as ex-stock standard colours.
Sitting alongside existing ex-stock foil colours including White, Golden Oak and Rosewood, Emplas’ most popular foils are now available in lead times of 10 days or less.
“We also expect to see growth in casement sales. We’re not currently doing particularly large volumes but again, we’re seeing significant growth. We’ve seen a general shift towards premium product”, says Caddy.
Emplas added, the Optima Flush Casement to its core Optima offering last year. It features a defining flush casement finish, mechanically jointed options, traditional top and deep bottom sash rail options and heritage dummy sash on frames with fixed lights. It’s also available with integrated hardware including monkey-tail handles and dummy peg stays.
With a simple chamfered finish to the sash externally, the outer-frame is available in either the Optima sculptured (QS) or chamfered (QC) finish internally. Available in 28mm glazing with astragal bar options, Optima Flush is supplied by Emplas as a WER A+ window as standard. Typical U-values start at 1.4W/m2K.
“The critical thing for us is as much the reliability and consistency in supply as it is product”, says Porter. “The investment that Emplas is making in the factory and what it’s doing in glass is geared towards delivering that.”
For more information on Emplas visit www.emplas.co.uk.