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The BWF CERTIFIRE Fire Door & Doorset Scheme Quarterly Trends Report

Continuing confidence for fire door market

Sales, quarter-on-quarter

A balance of 20% of merchants saw a rise in sales of timber fire doors over the last three months (January to March 2007) compared with the previous three months (October to December 2006) - see chart 1. Of those reporting an increase, the majority, 74%, saw a rise of 10% or more.

* The difference between the percentage of companies reporting an increase over those reporting a decrease is the net balance.

Large and mid-sized outlets (net 22%) did best but small companies (16%) also saw growth. Merchants in Scotland (net 27%) and North (22%) did slightly better than those in the South and Midlands (18%).

More builders’ merchants (net 26%) increased sales than timber merchants (13%). National chains (31%) performed better than independent outlets (11%) or local chains (5%).

January - March compared with the previous three months - by size
SizeIncreaseDecreaseSameTotalBase
Small30%13%57%10037
Medium34%12%54%10041
Large41%18%41%10022
Total34%14%52%100100
January - March sales compared with the previous three months - by region
RegionIncreaseDecreaseSameTotalBase
South38%19%43%10037
Midlands35%17%48%10029
North30%9%61%10023
Scotland27%0%73%10011
Total34%14%52%100100
Demand was strong across all sectors compared with three months ago. The new-build housing sector and commercial repair, maintenance and improvement (RMI) sector (net 22%) saw improvements over the period as did housing RMI (18%) and new build non-housing (17%).

Sales, year-on-year

A net 36% of merchants also increased sales in January to March 2007 compared with the same period of 2006 (chart 3). Large (net 46%) did best but mid-sized (37%) and small outlets (30%) also did well. Firms in the South (net 54%) did better than those in Scotland (36%) or outlets in the North (26%) and Midlands (21%).

Both builders’ merchants (net 36%) and timber merchants (26%) improved sales. Independent merchants and outlets belonging to national chains (net 39%) did better than local chains (25%).

Over the last 12 months, 93% of all fire doors sold by merchants had a 30 minute fire door rating fire resistance. Six percent were 60 minute fire rated doors. The remaining 1% was a combination of both FD90 and FD120 fire rated doors. A balance of 25% of merchants sold more FD30 fire doors over the period, 24% of merchants selling FD60’s also saw an improvement.

Merchants see new legislation and building regulations as the main drivers for timber fire door sales. The 'other' reason for the increase is that there is generally more work (chart 4).

Sales forecasts

A net 53% of merchants expect to sell more timber fire doors in April to June 2007 compared with the previous three months (chart 5). Mid-sized firms (net 56%) are slightly more bullish than small or large companies (51%). Those in the South (net 60%) are most optimistic although firms in the Midlands (52%) and outlets in the North and Scotland (47%) are also upbeat.

Both builders’ merchants (55%) and timber merchants (44%) are positive for sales next quarter. More outlets belonging to local chains (net 75%) expect growth than national outlets (52%) or independents (39%).


“Tighter regulations have stimulated more business for our company. People have an increased awareness of the new legislation and the realisation that these rules must be adhered to. This has meant that demand this year has been greater than last year and I anticipate this will continue throughout the rest of 2007.”

Mr Sean Monico, Branch Manager
Howdens Joinery Ltd, Keswick


Buying Prices

A net 70% of merchants reported an increase in their buying prices of timber fire doors compared with three months ago (chart 6). Merchants of all sizes, type and in all regions reported an increase with none of those interviewed reporting a drop in prices.

Selling Prices

Fifty-seven percent of merchants raised selling prices compared with three months ago (chart 6). The trend continues in line with purchase costs.

Outlets of all sizes raised prices, particularly large merchants, with very few dropping back. More merchants in the South, Midlands and Scotland (net 62%) raised prices than those in the North (39%).

Price forecasts

A net 78% of merchants expect to put up prices of timber fire doors over the next 12 months compared with the previous 12 months (chart 7). Firms of all sizes, type and in all regions forecast an increase with very few merchants expecting to drop prices.

Prospects

On balance 36% of merchants are more optimistic now about the overall prospects for the timber fire door market than three months ago (chart 8). Large outlets (net 46%) are most positive but mid-sized (37%) and small firms (30%) are also confident. Those in the South (net 43%) and North (39%) are slightly more upbeat than those in the Midlands or Scotland (28%).

Both timber and builders’ merchants (net 34%) are more optimistic. Local chains (45%) are slightly more upbeat than independents (39%) or national chains (31%).


“If people were not aware before of new government legislation regarding fire doors and fire safety, they certainly are now. They are being made aware and they have to work to the rules. This has been the main factor influencing our growth in sales of timber fire doors this year.”

Mr Ian Fleet, Sales
Build Center Ltd, Oswestry


Sales of Fire Door components

A net 32% of merchants increased sales of all fire door components over the last three months compared with the previous three (chart 9). Merchants of all sizes (net 32%) saw an increase. Those in the North did best (net 48%) followed by merchants in the South and Scotland (35%). In the Midlands a balance of 14% reported growth.

National (net 37%) and independent outlets (33%) did better than local chains (16%).

A balance of 38% of merchants also reported higher sales of all fire door components over the last three months compared with the same period of 2006. Outlets of all sizes and in all regions saw an improvement.

Fire Door Component Sales Expectations

A net 54% of merchants forecast better sales of all fire door components over the next three months compared with the previous three. Merchants of all sizes, type and in all regions anticipate better sales.

Stocks

On balance, 12% of merchants increased stock levels compared with three months ago (chart 10). More mid-sized firms (net 21%) raised stocks than small (8%) or large outlets (5%). Those in the South, North and Scotland (net 21%) increased stock levels but a balance of 7% of those in the Midlands reported a drop.

Problems

Margin squeeze (68%), supplier service and availability (61%) and price cutting in the market (55%) were the main problems facing merchants this quarter.

The single biggest problem was supplier service and availability, mentioned by 34% of merchants (chart 11).

Internal & External fire doors sales

Eighty per cent of sales of timber fire doors this quarter were internal doors. Twenty per cent were external.

Fire door components

Seventy-seven percent of merchants said they recommend compatible components every time a fire door leaf is sold. Twenty-three percent still ignore this opportunity for added sales.

Eighty-six percent of merchants are confident that they are able to give correct advice on compatible fire door components. This figure has increased steadily from 63% when the survey first began in October 2003.

Just 39% of merchants say they have had training on components.

Comment

“Was it really only six months ago that we were wondering whether the growth in the fire doors market had peaked?” says Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the British Woodworking Federation. “After four years of strong and consistent growth, it would hardly be a surprise to see sales level off, and I think few would complain if the market had stabilised 75% above its 2001 level. But the results from this survey reflect the information coming back to us from Scheme members that, if anything, the market is moving forward faster than ever.”

“And this was before Approved Document B came into force on 6th April. The general expectation is that the newly revised guidance will lead to more fire doors being sold, not least because of the change in guidance relating to loft conversions.”

“There’s now an explicit recommendation in AD B to check that the fire door assembly installed in the building complies with tested design because small differences in detail can significantly affect the rating, and ultimately the fire performance. This is the ideal opportunity for merchants to build up their cross-sales by ensuring that they stock the right components for the fire doors they carry and that their sales staff are trained to understand what to recommend and why they should do so.”

“It still astonishes me that the number of merchants saying that they are confident that they are can give correct advice on compatible components is more than double the number who have had training on this topic. Time and again, the merchant branch staff who attend the BWF Approved Fire Door Centre training courses tell us that there was so much in the session they did not know. You have to wonder where those who aren’t training get their confidence from.”

The Timber Fire Doors Survey, a quarterly trends report, is produced by Michael Rigby Associates, and sponsored by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door and Doorset Scheme in conjunction with Builders’ Merchants’ News. The aim is to keep a finger on the timber fire doors’ market pulse, and to view merchants’ and manufacturers’ expectations of market movements.

The survey covers a representative sample of 100 timber and builders’ merchants as well as manufacturers. Telephone interviews took place between the 2nd - 19th April 2007 across a balanced spread of size of firm and geographical area. For survey details call Jenny Reilly on (01453) 521621.

© BWF/Rigby Research, 2007

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