CLADDING & SHEETING
Five big trends shaping
the roofline market
Freefoam commercial director, Colin St. John, says five big trends are shaping the roofline market and explains
how Freefoam helps independent roofline stockists grow
The roofline market is changing,
driven by five big trends: climate
change, demographics, housing
wealth, colour, and market
Most of us think of hotter, drier
weather when we think climate change.
Over the past decade, the UK has
recorded nine of the hottest years on
record, but warmer also means wetter
and windier with strong winds and
violent storms becoming more common.
Extreme weather puts pressure on
our buildings, particularly the roofs,
rainwater and roofline. They will need
to be better-maintained to keep the
wind and rain out.
People ‘see’ roofs and walls, but
rarely look at their roofline; the fascia,
soffits and rainwater that protect the
exposed edges and corners of their
property. Small problems can develop
into big problems, and the roofline is
probably the most vulnerable part of a
house. A leak can do a lot of damage.
When homeowners realise they have
a problem and installers explain what’s
gone wrong, they want a fit-and-forget
solution and don’t want to do it again
soon. Thankfully, the latest generation
of high-performance PVC-UE rainwater
solutions come with compressible seals
and watertight joints to give longlasting,
house prices, improvements pay for
themselves. Installers, who sell to the
‘haves’, and stockists who supply them
have done well.
When today’s consumers buy
windows and doors, they are
increasingly in colour. They don’t want
‘shiny white’ fascia and soffits with
their new chartwell greens or anthracite
greys. Instead, they want colour to
match. Colour is getting on for a third
of window and door volumes, but
those who sell to these house-wealthy
homeowners frequently sell half or more
in colour. Darren Beaumont, general
manager at C&A Building Products,
said: “Customers want a full suite of
colours with matching accessories.
Roofline manufacturers like Freefoam
can offer a choice of 16 colours in fascias
and soffits, and six colours in rainwater
guttering with a 10-year guarantee.”
The 2008 recession sparked intense
competition among suppliers for space
on independent stockists’ shelves. It
spurred several to build their own
route to market by acquiring stockists
and setting up trade counters to sell
their own roofline. While they
build their own distribution, they
also sell through independent
stockists. This strategy has led to
fewer roofline brands and fewer
We estimate around three
quarters of roofline is now sold
through owned-distribution. That
affects installers who may have to
travel further to use a favoured brand.
It also affects independent stockists
who like to offer installers a choice
of roofline brands, because they
increasingly find themselves competing
with their suppliers as supplier-owned
chains expand. Stockists are busy,
focusing on installers in the areas they
supply, so they may not notice the
threat of competing with their suppliers
until it happens. When it does, there
can be only one winner, because only
the supplier can bridge the gap between
buying and selling price.
The UK’s population is growing fast.
People are living longer and healthier.
More people enter the country than
leave, and most who stay start families.
A growing population puts
pressure on services and housing.
There’s a surplus of houses where the
population is declining, and a shortage
where it’s growing.
Restrictive planning regimes and
‘not in my back yard’ movements that
stop houses being built means demand
outstrips supply. And prices have risen
dramatically in the past 25 years.
Rising house prices puts new
houses out of reach of many and puts
pressure on under-45 homeowners
with high outgoings on mortgage
payments, childcare and general living.
They are, as Theresa May says, ‘just
about managing’, barely able to afford
essential home maintenance or home
improvements. They’d like the best
products for their homes, but have to
buy on price.
However, the big increase in house
prices over the years has boosted the
housing wealth of older homeowners.
This largely mortgage-free group own
much of Britain’s housing wealth, and
most of its savings, and they can
afford to invest in their homes.
They love quality, style and colour
and want the best. With rising
36 www.rcimag.co.uk May 2019