September 2020

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Brave in the new world

DOORCO MD, Dan Sullivan discusses with GGP Magazine, his thoughts on the current market and what comes next for the independent composite door supplier.

Brave in the new world

DOORCO started out 2020 with big plans. New products, new marketing, growth. Come the end of March and seemingly this all came to a grinding halt. With so much uncertainty, we debated and discussed our previous plans for hours on end: Do we continue with new product investment? Do we put it on ice? We wrote scenario after scenario, and we were glad to just be able to open our doors and unfurlough our staff as lockdown started to ease. Setting up a safe working environment for them meant that we could start making doors again to meet our customer’s demands – whatever they might be. We certainly didn’t expect the boom we saw in that first week, but it quickly became apparent homeowners were looking to invest in their homes. All those initial contingency plans were in the bin – we had not written one where the script read double digit growth!!

According to the 2020 Renovation Nation Report published in early August by money.co.uk, homeowners have spent over £50billion on renovations since lockdown, which equates to £4,035.70 per household.  The report suggests that the majority of spend (63% of homeowners spoken to) is made on making homes more comfortable because they are spending more time at home, while 27% are intending to increase the value of their home, diverting funds that were intended to be spent on travel. 40% have also admitted to ‘Zoombarrassement’ over the appearance of their homes too! While many are focusing on specialist areas – offices, gyms, bars – I think it is fair to say the fenestration industry is enjoying its share of this spending spree.

Bolder choices

DOORCO has certainly seen a rise in composite door sales post lockdown. Comparing July 2019 to July 2020, we’ve seen a 34% increase in manufacturing slab sales & 10% increase in distribution slab sales, but the detail of those sales is where it gets interesting.  Consumers are making bolder choices when it comes to design and colour. Our contemporary doors – Monza II, Flush and Links – make up 75% of that increase. Grey is still the most popular colour in this range, demonstrated by our standard Anthracite/ White slab sales nearly doubling, but we’re seeing more and more bolder colours coming through our paint line.

We’re adding some new colours too such as The Pink Door Range which is available from 1st September. Pink has always been available as a special, but it was missing from our standard and premium colour range, which is devised from popular colours. It seems its launch is right in fashion; thanks to the Hinchers (followers of Instragram star, Mrs Hinch) who have recently started a wave in pink front doors.

DOORCO’s Pink Door Range will be supporting industry charity We Mind & Kelly Matters with 20% of its sales.

Streamlining

The other big shift we have seen is the use of technology to reorganise communications.  We’re all busy so this makes sense and while those of us that work in manufacturing are ‘back in the office’ now, we’ve all had to adjust to working from home, and only technology has made this possible. Some of us that are less IT literate have certainly become more comfortable with online meetings, online ordering and the like (although there’s still no place like my office!).  Thankfully over the last three years we have made big investments in IT, so we were well prepared to support customers in their bid to carry out technical upgrades, updating content and improving integration with our ordering systems.

DOORCO is also supporting customers to streamline their manufacturing, too. Many are facing increased orders with restrictions manufacturing and staff, and DOORCO is able to offer added-value services such as prepping, painting and glazing to help ease the strain. More than 1000 extra doors went through our in-house manufacturing lines in the first few weeks in July. Customers also know that they can rely on DOORCO to deliver, and to be honest if we can’t. We place huge emphasis on stock holding, of doors, glass and accessories, and were determined to maintain our OTIF levels as best we can in these challenging times. But we’ve faced huge challenges in meeting stock expectations on all fronts, and so further work is needed for us to reach the new levels of demand post COVID. We have introduced extra shifts both here and Korea to meet demand, we are investing in more storage space for increase stock holding, and we will recruit key people to help us achieve the service levels our customers need.

Long may it continue

Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know how long this boom will continue – 2020 has hardly been textbook so far and the true fallout of a national lockdown is still to come. There have been bumps along the way and tough decisions to make, but having confidence in these decisions, your business, products and team, staying on top of trends, talking to your customers and adapting to the evolving market conditions is paramount to riding out this uncertainty.

This is why DOORCO is taking lockdown as a blip on the landscape and moving forward with the plans we set out with at the start of 2020. We’ve got some very exciting products just around the corner, including a new innovative slab that is really going to mix things up…watch this space!

Read the full article on Page 14 of the GGP Guide to Doors supplement

Security & Style

In the regular column in the September GGP Magazine, Jayne Sullivan, DOORCO’s Operations Director looks to the trends the company is seeing in hardware for its prepped doors. Obviously hardware choices determine the security, legal compliance and functionality of a door, but in parallel with the increasing importance of design, it’s the hardware that adds the finishing touches aesthetically.
DOORCO preps for any lock, hinge, letterplate or door handle configuration. We are totally impartial and led by demand from our customers, so we won’t be naming any names in this column!

Getting a handle on it
The first and foremost important aspect of a door – for practicality and aesthetics – is the way you open it. We are prepping more and more doors for hardware every month. As a recent example in July, 80% were prepped for a separate handle, and the majority were for Lever/Lever handles from various manufacturers. This may only be one month, but looking back over last year, the results are very similar. Where we prepped for a handle, the top 5 choices were identical (which make up over 84% of all the handle prepping across both periods). We posed the question to customers and the feedback was the same – Lever/Lever handles are still the most popular choice.


Putting the focus on locks, we prep for a wide variety, but the majority are multipoint systems. A big change in trends here is the growth of smart hardware, or at least locks that are “ready” for smart (we don’t know if these functions have been activated after installation). Last July, smart locks represented nearly 5%; in July 2020, over 16% & rising to top position on the lock trends chart.

Letters through the door
The largest proportion of doors we prep do not have provision for a letter box – around 35% in both periods. Whether it is for additional security, to reduce heat loss by removing the need for a letter flap or for aesthetic reasons, it seems many are moving away from in-door letter boxes. When we look to those we do prep for letterboxes, there is a definite correlation between handle and letterplate manufacturers, suggesting homeowners are looking for a more suited door furniture.


Keeping a spy out
It seems that only 7.5% of our customers’ customers need a spy hole in their door.

Looking forward
As suggested in previous columns, we are seeing an upward trend in contemporary door design, so we would expect to see the styling of hardware following the same trajectory. We’ve already reported an increase in the number of doors being prepped for a handle, suggesting a move away from more traditional door knobs. When it comes to the style of handle, we may continue to see increasing demand for contemporary pull handles, but when it comes to practicality, pull handles are no rival for the “all-in-one” Lever/Lever; the design of which is becoming more and more contemporary, with some good-looking suites of door furniture on the market.

The move is likely to be towards more advanced locking systems, which use fingertip or retina scanning to activate the lock. Smarter hardware that talks to an app and tells you if your door is open or closed has been growing in popularity since it was first launched at the last FIT Show. Pre-lockdown demand was steady, but post-lockdown we’ve seen a significant rise. We are also seeing increased demand for key-less security. Many of the products that offer this functionality are still Lever/Lever handles, although there are also handle-less options available too.

When it comes to doors, design is a personal choice, but security cannot be compromised. Thankfully in our industry, this is commonplace, so we don’t have to compromise on either.

We’d love to hear your thoughts? Do you have a favoured lock, handle or suite of door furniture? Are you seeing an increase in enquiries for smarter hardware for doors? Please get in touch via social media – @doorco_official on twitter, DOORCO Ltd on LinkedIn and Facebook or @DOORCOUK on Instagram.