Within the home improvement sector aluminium products are enjoying a degree of success, in part due to the popularity of the bifolding door. Over the last 10 years bifolding doors have become more desirable with consumers as illustrated by this chart demonstrating the rise in the volume of people searching Google for information:
As you might expect this rise in consumer demand has driven a corresponding rise in the number of systems companies producing Bifolding door systems. This leads to a dramatic increase in the number of fabricators electing to manufacture more than one system, and thus an increase in the number of traditional double glazing firms electing to start selling aluminium bi fold doors. Which in turn leads to greater consumer awareness of the bi folding door market.
An increase in competition amongst trades suppliers of bi folding doors.
Insight Data reports that there are around 800 aluminium fabricators in the UK. Even though that is a small proportion of the overall number of fabricators in the double glazing sector these fabricators will know that in order to grow and avoid being swallowed up by the larger non-aluminium fabricators they must look to develop the range of products they offer.
Aiming for the premium end of the market
One area that is showing growth in the door and window trade market is the availability of “luxury” door and window products. There is a growing list of established trade manufacturers adding to their existing product range and offering a high-end bifolding door and window solution.
Lister Trade Frames, Dekko Window Systems, Everglade Windows and other well-known names now have a high end side to their trade business.
Some of these trade suppliers are even rebranding and separating the luxury brand of their business from their core products with new websites and a different brand appearance.
Moving away from “mainstream” bifolding doors.
A few years ago when visiting a typical double glazing firm it was quite likely that the consumer would encounter the same product on display in multiple showrooms. Products by systems companies such as Smarts and Beaufort (now AluK) were often the norm. There is nothing wrong with these products and they remain great sellers. However it stands to reason that if a customer sees the same bifolding door everywhere they go, price then becomes the deciding factor rather than the product itself.
Therefore, in an attempt to broaden the market we have seen a shift in both trade manufacturers and trade buyers of bifolding doors to add premium and designer ranges to their existing product offerings.
Offering a comprehensive range of doors.
Some trade manufacturers are actually manufacturing more than one system. CDW Systems in Gloucester, an established trade supplier of fabricated aluminium to the trade, offers five different bifolidng door products. Other trade installers are also looking to introduce new doors by systems companies that some may not have heard of such as Kaye Building Systems.
Bifolds Bi Design based in Colchester are a good example of a company that set up to manufacture bifolding doors but instead of opting for SAPA, AluK or Smarts, chose Kaye and Reynaers.
The typical double glazing installer is seeing the benefits of increased consumer demand for a product that is very much in the growth stage of the product cycle.
The bifolding door is in the growth stage of the product cycle, with the market still adapting to increased consumer awareness and demand. This can only be a good thing for the typical double glazing installer as they are seeing dynamic growth in demand and availability of new products.
The wise installer is opting to display multiple bi folding door brands in their showroom, not least to keep them in their showroom for longer. With the systems companies opting to build brand awareness by marketing directly to the consumer the importance of having a choice of products on display will increase. This, we believe, is the correct way for an installer to grow their business.
Bifolding doors customised to make them “unique”.
KAT UK manufacture AluK doors but they offer them with their own range of door handles not available elsewhere. This makes their doors unique to their customer base. So whilst it’s still an AluK door, the hardware offering makes it different from the many other fabricators of AluK bifolding doors.
Some trade manufacturers elect to work with hardware Suppliers like Debar Hardware to offer hardware outside of the systems company’s standard range.
There are other ways for fabricators to customise their products, such as offering colour matched handles at no extra cost, or providing glazed doors with high specification glazing of 1.2Wm2K U Value.
Brand Loyalty is shifting.
Anecdotally we know that 10 or 15 years ago most trade suppliers of aluminium products would state that they have been loyal to their systems company from the outset. However over recent years whilst still fabricating their original system they’ve also diversified into others. And rightly so. If the market demands greater choice it is the backward thinking business that does not offer it.
So what next for bifolding doors? Quality, Choice or Price?
There are now many trade suppliers of bifolding doors offering mainstream systems and even lesser known ones at cheap prices. They have set up to provide aluminium bifolding doors to their customer base meeting a homeowner need for an aluminium door at the best possible price.
Trade fabricators of bifolding doors are continuing to add to their existing product ranges with a second or third system. The demand for luxury products is definitely there.
Often installers are changing their business models by moving away from their core websites and creating second websites focusing only on the architectural aluminium side of their business.
Systems Companies are also helping their customers sell more bifolds with slick marketing campaigns and professional dealer support. This support extends to helping their customers put new livery on their vehicles, offering improved point of sale materials and providing leads through their own marketing efforts.
All of this is great news for the aluminium sector, cements its continued growth and awareness with end users and provides consumers with even more choice.
Have your say about the changing bi folding door market:
We want to hear from installers and trade manufactures, particularly those that have recently added to their product ranges.
- Are you a trade manufacturer that has recently added to your product offering or introduced a high end system?
- Perhaps you’re an installer that like many has shifted to also selling more than one product?
- What were your reasons for doing so?
- If you’re an installer, how are you finding the service you get from your trade supplier?
We would love to get some feedback, so over to you….