The single biggest problem reported by merchants over the period was a lack of confidence in the market, mentioned by 28% of respondents as shown in this chart.
“The first quarter of the year is always quiet for the joinery market," says Richard Lambert, chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation. “This time last year, that natural lull accentuated how the market had fallen away over the previous quarter at the recession bit hard. I expected to see things fall back following the gradual improvement over the rest of 2009, but not as much as the year-on-year comparison we see here. It shows just how far the fire door market has to come back.
“So what are we to make of the sentiments in the market, where the single biggest problem appears to be lack of confidence in the market, but the survey records one of the highest ever levels of optimism for future prospects in the history of the survey? For my money, the former strikes me as reflecting day-to-day experience, the latter the more general sense across the construction sector that things this year are nowhere near as bad as they were at the same time last year. It will be interesting to see how that plays out through the year. Only hindsight will tell us whether the mood is genuinely improving, or whether it owes more to comparisons with the desperation of a year ago.
“The RMI market is still stronger than new build, and I’m afraid that the recent high profile fires will keep up the pressure on those responsible for fire safety in buildings to make sure that their risk assessments are in place and have been acted upon. Over the past two months, the BWF’s technical helpline has been inundated with questions about fire doors.
"There is evidently a greater awareness of the importance of fire safety, but the lack of understanding of fire doors, how they are constructed and how they work is frightening. Is there a role for merchants in guiding customers towards buying the right components – and taking the advantage for cross-selling while they’re at it?”
The Timber Fire Doors Survey, a quarterly trends report, is produced by Rigby Research, a Division of 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’ expectations of market movements.
The survey covers a representative sample of 50 timber and builders’ merchants. Telephone interviews took place between the 1-9 April 2010 across a balanced spread of size of firm and geographical area. For survey details or a copy of the full report call Paula Swaine on 01453 521 621 or from www.rigby-research.co.uk