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The potential is there for the year ahead, says CDW Systems Group Chairman

After a challenging 2020, CDW Systems’ group Chairman Jeremy Phillips discusses the year ahead for the renowned Gloucester based aluminium fabricator and the glass and glazing sector.

Jeremy, what kind of year are you expecting in 2021?

It depends on so much that we can’t really control but the potential is definitely there. There was strong domestic demand in 2020 as people couldn’t go on holiday so spent money on their homes and I think once things start to gradually relax as far as COVID-19 is concerned it will have a slightly detrimental effect on the domestic side of things, with people bored of spending on their homes and wanting to go on holiday and enjoy themselves. I think commercial demand will bulk up and replace the domestic.

The supply shortage on glass, and slight increase in lead times as a result, looks set to carry on. But the glass shortage in the industry and prices increasing is no bad thing. Everyone tends to see price rises as a negative but it’s not always the case as it adds value to things and provided you can manage it; it can be a positive.

What trends are you expecting to see around products in the sector?

I think we’ll still see a good demand for patio doors and large glazed areas, and there will be more demand for acoustically efficient product as well, as acoustic performance is being built into the spec more and more now.

We will also see a shift towards thermally efficient commercial products. Although there is still good demand for the old fashioned non-thermal systems, that will perhaps start to wane a little in favour of products with good thermal efficiency. I think the focus on sustainability and thermal efficiency slipped a little because of COVID-19, but it will always be there and carry on being a factor.

Looking back on 2020, how was it for CDW Systems?

As for everyone, it was a year nobody could have predicted, but we made the decision not to stand still and for us it worked. We used the enforced shutdown to look at how we could cater for customer’s increasing needs and invested in new products, such as flat roof lights, Designer Doors, and the Smart Alitherm Heritage Range, and machinery to do that.

Following a phased and controlled reopening, we were able to get up to full capacity for all our product lines quickly and we saw our order intake has been at record levels, particular our commercial doors.

What does the year ahead hold for CDW Systems?

After our investments last year, we are looking at 2021 very much as a year of consolidation and to bed in with the new products. We are already seeing the benefit of adding them to our portfolio, with the Heritage Range off to a particularly strong start. A lot of the projects that we had to put on hold last year are now coming off hold, and just before the turn of the year we had a huge influx of window orders.

But the market is very artificial at the moment and this year will be about trying to see how all the changes work in a normal market. COVID-19 is impacting on our us, our customers, and our suppliers and only when we put this behind us will we be able to fully understand how these changes will affect us.

What challenges do you foresee?

The supply chain issues will carry on being a challenge, and accessories in general seem to be the main problem. We can make it, but we can’t put a lock or handle on it and that is slowing us down and that will carry on slowing us down if the supply chain doesn’t improve.

And, again, things out of our control, such as businesses in our supply chain having to shut down because of COVID-19 will potentially cause us a problem. We have spread the risk by having several different suppliers so if one does have a problem we can cope.

So, the challenges will still be there, but with our new investments we are confident we are in a strong position moving forward to meet them and continue to provide our customers with unrivalled support as we have always done.

Established in 1992, CDW Systems is one of the UK’s longest running aluminium specialists, and its expertise and extensive market knowledge has seen it grow into one of the most well-respected specialists in the trade supply of high-quality aluminium window, door, and curtain wall products to installers across the UK. Operating out of a 13,000ft² factory premises in Gloucester, CDW Systems is part of the East Manor Group.

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