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Freefoam Plastics

The Freefoam Plastics Survey

Roofline Sales Buoyant

Just over four in ten cellular foam installers reported an increase in sales during March to May 2000 compared with the previous three months. Fewer than one in six recorded a drop.

A useful way to look at the results is by the net balance of installers reporting either way. If, for example, 60% of installers saw an increase in sales and 40% a decrease, the outcome would be a net balance of +20%. A net balance of zero implies that nothing has changed.

On this basis, a net balance of 27% of installers had higher sales during the three months to May compared with the previous three months.

Increases were widespread. Large installers were the most active with a net 37% of firms expanding compared with the previous quarter.

Compared with the same period last year all sizes of installer in all parts of the UK reported increases. Overall a net 30% of cellular foam installers reported year on year growth in sales. The larger the firm in terms of numbers employed, the more widespread the increase.

March - May 2000 sales volume compared with the previous 3 months
March - May 2000 sales volume compared with the previous 3 months of last year


A net 32% of cellular foam installers improved their profits compared with last year. Medium sized installers and installers in the Midlands saw the most widespread increase in profitability.


Confidence in the prospects for roofline is high with a net 56% of installers forecasting sales to grow in the next three months compared with the previous three. All sizes of installers are budgeting for higher sales. Significantly, no medium or large firms expect sales to fall in the next three months.

A net 64% of firms in the Midlands, 56% in the North and 52% in the South expect a pick up in sales. No cellular foam installer in the North is forecasting lower sales in the next three months.

Compared with the same three months of last year sales forecasts are stronger with a net 60% of cellular foam installers forecasting higher sales over the period.

And the larger the firm in terms of numbers employed the more widespread are the expectations.

Installers in the Midlands have the highest expectations with a net 79% of firms forecasting an improvement. But in the North (a net 59%) and the South (a net 52%) expectations are also high.

Type of installer

Virtually all the installers interviewed were involved in roofline and cladding installations. Forty four percent of the sample of sixty three firms specialised in this type of job. Just 5% were roofing contractors, the remainder being window installers, fabricators and builders.

Roofline leads via the Internet

Just under half the cellular foam installers interviewed claimed recommendations as their main source of leads. Adverts in the press and telephone and door canvassing are also important methods of generating leads. But twenty two percent of installers, just over one in five of the sample, generated leads proactively via door canvassing, telecan or drop leaflets. One firm gained enquiries via his website.

Installation Jobs

Just under two out of five firms installed an average of less than ten jobs a month. Three in ten installed between ten and twenty five, and more than one in ten did more than a hundred installation jobs a month.

The average order value of a cellular foam installation job (ex VAT) was between £1,000 and £2,000 for more than four out of ten jobs. One in four had average order values between £2,000 and £3,000. One in eight were over £3,000.


Installers wanted their main supplier to hold more stock, improve their prices and improve their deliveries to better their service.

Many installers get deliveries from a long way off. Fifty four percent of specialist installers interviewed relied on a main supplier more than 50 miles away. Large companies also relied on long distance supply.


More than one in two roofline installers complained about price-cutting and squeezed margins. One in three were affected by supplier price rises in the quarter.


Paul Diment, Sales Director of Freefoam Plastics Ltd who sponsored the Roofline Survey comments: “An expanding roofline market provides significant openings for companies looking to grow, as we see from this survey. Those who have seen the opportunity and specialised in it, and those who are proactive in their approach to generating leads achieve higher order values, grow faster and have higher expectations of continuing growth. If you're seeking a market with big potential to build your business this could be it!”

The Roofline Survey is produced by Michael Rigby Associates and sponsored by Freefoam Plastics Ltd in conjunction with The Installer.

Michael Rigby Associates is a management consultancy specialising in marketing research and training programmes for the window and home improvement markets.

The survey covers a representative sample of 63 roofline installers. Telephone interviews took place between the 13th and the 16th June 2000 across a balanced spread of size of firm, geographical area, and type of installer. Numbers employed was used as an indication of company size. The categories are small (1-19 employees), medium (20-49) and large (over 50 employees).

Further information: Mike Rigby, Michael Rigby Associates (01453) 521621

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