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Public Sector Quarterly Trends Report

Sponsored by System10 this survey is the fourth in a series of Quarterly Trends Reports on the public sector window and door market.

Successful Partnering for Serious Partners

Current replacement windows and doors programme

Ninety-two percent of the Local Authorities in this survey have window or door replacement programmes. Looking at materials, replacement windows installed are 98% PVC-U and 2% hardwood. Replacement doors installed are 68% composite doors and 32% PVC-U panel doors. Little change in this mix is expected for the next 12 months.

Housing stock

Local Authorities continue to transfer stocks to Housing Associations and in this survey everyone we spoke to expect their housing stock to decrease.


“As far as Gleeson is concerned, Partnering is about the way the participating members view and manage a project, based on co-operation, openness, and trust which ultimately benefits the whole team. The core ethos of our organisation is teamwork, working together in a non-adversarial arrangement with clients, consultants and stakeholders to achieve a common goal.

We have found that the key to a successful Partnership is to select the right members of the team that have a commitment to and belief in partnering, a track record of working closely with Clients and Designers in a co-operative framework.

The most important single lesson that every member of our project teams have had to learn is that we must break down the “us” and “them” mentality and barriers that drive conventional contracting arrangements and start thinking as the "we" that will form the team.”

John Matthews, Business Development Manager,
Gleeson Construction Services Limited


Frames put out to tender

One third of Local Authorities say the number of window and door frames they put out to tender became larger in the last 12 months. Seventeen percent say they became smaller and 50% stayed the same.

Window and door contracts LAST 12 MONTHS
Supply onlySupply and fit
1st survey2nd survey3rd survey4th survey1st survey2nd survey3rd survey4th survey
DLOs23%13%13%4%20%16%20%4%
Direct to fabricator/ installer26%22%37%25%26%19%21%38%
Via main contractors51%61%50%71%54%65%59%58%
Other0%4%0%0%0%0%0%0%
Total100%100%100%100%100%100%100%100%

Budgets

A net 42% of Local Authorities increased their replacement window budgets in the last 12 months.

What Local Authorities want from sub-contractors

When choosing window and door sub-contractors, Local Authorities are looking for quality of workmanship and materials, best value and reliability. They comment that quality of installation is still hardest to find.

Partnering

Fifty-four percent of the Local Authorities in the survey are involved in partnering. We asked them what they think of partnering. On a scale of 1-7 where one is very poor and seven is excellent, two thirds rate it as five or more. Positive comments from local authorities with replacement partnering programmes include: "You get accountability"; "the focus is on customer care not just price"; "a lot less hassle". On the flipside though some are concerned about "putting so much trust in one partner."

Most important issue in the next 12 months

Once again in this survey, The Decent Homes Standard along with Health & Safety are both rated the most important issue for Local Authorities in the next 12 months. Funding and skills shortages continue to be seen as issues most likely to cause difficulty in complying with the Decent Homes Standard (chart 1).

WINDOW FABRICATORS

Sales to Local Authorities

Window fabricators' sales to Local Authorities increased in May to July compared with the previous three months. A net* 18% of fabricators reported quarter-on-quarter growth. Compared with the same time last year sales were also up with a net 29% of fabricators improving sales (chart 2).

*The difference between the number of companies reporting an increase over those reporting a decrease is the net balance, expressed as a percentage. A positive net balance indicates growth, a net balance of zero implies little has changed.

Outlook

A balance of 3% of fabricators expect to improve window and door sales to Local Authorities in August to October compared with three months ago. More large fabricators expect to increase sales. Fabricators in the South and the Midlands expect to sell more (net 8% & 22% respectively) over the period. This contrasts with a net -25% of fabricators in the North expecting a drop, and equal numbers in Scotland forecasting decreases and increases.

Compared with the same time last year a net 29% expect to sell more in the next three months.

Prices

A balance of 6% of fabricators improved Local Authority prices in the last three months compared with the previous three. In the next 12 months a net 35% expect to put up their Local Authority contract prices. Prices are being pushed up by higher labour and material costs and the knowledge that PVC resin prices in particular are forecast to rise.


Successful partnership involves making sure everyone has a clear understanding of goals and objectives from day one. Ensuring that companies with the right skills and attitude on board is vital too so that everyone is pulling in the right/same direction. It's a great opportunity to create new innovative successful ways of working together for the benefit of everyone. Partnering will happen more and more.

Mr Ed Barnes, Partnering Manager,
McCann Homes Ltd, Leighton Buzzard


Comment

Mike Stevenson, Sales and Marketing Director of System10 who sponsor this survey, comments: “It's interesting that some people still see partnering as a bad thing and a threat to their business or organisation. It's true that partnering is probably the most abused word in construction's vocabulary these days with many people and organisations using the words and phrases associated with it without a clue as to what it is to partner. Similarly there are many businesses that have chosen to ignore partnering and the culture it brings in favour of tried and tested old methods leading to ever decreasing profits because they still compete by the traditional differentiation through price method. A clearly unsustainable strategy.

“It needn't be this way. There are many companies that are thriving at the moment. Particularly companies that have embraced partnering with open arms and open-books for that matter. Continuously improving their knowledge of partnering, sharing the pains and gains with clients and even competitors. System 10 has had a partnering philosophy known as 'In Business Together' as a key part of its strategy for many years. This has helped customers and clients understand partnering, identify that tenants are the customers and so are the key focus for everyone in the supply chain leading to great successes for clients and window fabricator/installers alike.

“Our System 10 developed Partnering Health Check has been developed specifically to identify at what stage in the partnering journey your organisation is at. It's powerful and will objectively highlight a serious action plan to put your organisation up there with the best when it comes to partnering.”

The Public Sector Survey, a quarterly trends report, is sponsored by System10 and produced by Michael Rigby Associates. It keeps a finger on the public sector's market pulse, and views fabricators' and specifiers' expectations of market movements.

The survey covers a representative sample of 40 window and door fabricators and 60 specifiers. Telephone interviews took place between the 2-8 August 2004 across a balanced spread of size of firm and geographical area. Numbers employed was used as an indication of company size.

The categories are small (1-19 employees), medium (25-49), large (50-200) and very large (over 200 employees).

© Michael Rigby Associates 2004. Full report available free: call Pam Fay on 0121 749 3000 or www.specifiernewsline.com

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