Victoria Brocklesby, COO at Origin, talks to us about what impact the pandemic and stamp duty inducements has had on housing and home improvement demand, and looks at what Origin is doing to support its Partners during these predicted peaks.
The last 18 months or so have been some of the strangest times any of us will ever live through. The economic and environmental uncertainty has been a lot to handle, but we are getting there. As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
In fact, one positive thing to come from the pandemic, certainly for those of us operating within the fenestration industry, is that people are re-evaluating their home environment. Having spent so much more time at home than they are used to, either for health reasons or to work during lockdown, people have decided that they need more space, or that they no longer need to be as close to their workplace as they once did.
Coupled with stamp duty incentives from the Government, the property market is very active at the moment. For those not looking to move, improving their existing property is the go-to option. A lack of travel expenditure and a general shortage of ways to spend money during lockdown, means people have more disposable income than usual and can afford to update their homes instead.
Indeed, the latest consumer figures from TGI show that five percent of UK adults anticipate making home improvements over the next 12 months. This equates to 2.5 million people – staggering!
So, there is more new business for the taking, but what impact will this increased demand put on the supply chain and how can it be best controlled and managed?
Increase in Demand
More renovations and house building taking place creates an unusual surge in demand, which directly impacts the supply chain and its ability to continue delivering on time and in full. When you mix in external projects, like HS2 hoovering up building materials left, right and centre, it is easy to see why some people are panicking. Lack of materials cause delays, and for those in the fenestration and manufacturing industries, delays are to be avoided at all costs. They lead to poor cashflow, missing out on future projects, and a business’ reputation suffers at the same time.
In my opinion, it is possible to ensure the supply chain continues to work for you, and in Origin’s case, its nationwide network of Partners, no matter the demand placed on it. And it must never affect the quality of the product – ever!
So, across the Brexit, COVID and now post-COVID peak periods, how have we been able to keep our Partners happy and in stock?
It might sound counterintuitive to spend money to get through a period of economic uncertainty, but we significantly invested in our levels of stock, and worked harder than ever to foster great relationships with our supply chain. In fact, Brexit prepared the business neatly for COVID in this area, as we were already working hard to ensure we would not be caught out due to Brexit rules and regulations. The level of stock we have and will always have has therefore meant that our Partners, builders, installers and housebuilders across the UK, have been able to rely on us, no matter the demand.
Another area of strength for us over the last 18 months has been the fact we are a British manufacturer, based in High Wycombe. This has allowed us to keep total control over our entire operation, ranging from sourcing and design, through to manufacturing and delivery. Not only does this mean that we have been able to ensure every product leaving the factory is of the highest quality, but we know that it is going to arrive with the Partners on the scheduled day.
The sudden introduction of social distancing regulations meant we had to quickly rethink our production processes to ensure COVID didn’t hinder our ‘On Time, In Full’ promise. So, we innovated and changed from a single shift to a two-shift pattern, allowing us to get back to full capacity quickly.
Plus, we added more products to OSS, our unique ordering and quoting system. This allowed Partners to create customer projects in just a matter of minutes and make changes across the entire order with the click of a button. This saves them time on admin, so they have more for project completion and building their business.
For those that have been able to navigate through the uncertainty, the opportunities are there to be taken. For anyone that has struggled through, there is reason to be optimistic. As an industry, we are seeing a surge in demand, so make sure you capitalise on it.
By futureproofing your business now, you will be better prepared for anything thrown at you, even if that is a global pandemic. Bold business decisions can set you on a good path, and having a reliable and dependable manufacturer and supplier behind you will give you the confidence that you need to meet this demand.
For more information about Origin, please visit www.origin-global.com.