The sealants and adhesives industry is a mature one and generally follows the economy in its highs and lows. As a result, the industry has faced more challenging trading conditions in recent years, but the positive news is that the outlook appears bright and sustained growth is expected over the coming year.
The economy is certainly more buoyant and the property market is moving once more, so the signs are strong as this confidence permeates the sealants and adhesives sector.
With the wheels of the property market moving faster, we have certainly seen general trading in the industry increase of late – across the board and within DIY. Confidence is starting to grow among DIY-ers and more are taking on projects as their disposable incomes increase. Their faith in the marketplace is also growing. On top of this, people are backing their own ability more readily, and it is great to see the notion of ‘repair not replace’ becoming the norm.
We are seeing new customers emerge in the do-it-yourself market, as more people are now starting to own their own property, hence the increased need for products.
That said, young DIY-ers taking their first step onto the property ladder are, and will continue to be, a challenge for the industry, as they don’t have the skills of previous generations. It is becoming much easier, and cheaper, to pay for someone else to do the work, so the sealants and adhesives market must continue to develop products that are easy to use.
I would like to see more focus on encouraging millennials to go back to grass roots and develop the woodwork and general fixing skills of previous generations, before they become dying arts. All we can do as an industry is educate and offer simple solutions.
A productive year ahead
In terms of suppliers and how the land lies for the next year, I am again positive. I firmly believe that people are baffled by too much choice. It was nice to see a focus placed on developing core products within ranges and less new product development (NPD). Reduced concentration on NPD was no doubt due to the changes in legislation taking precedence, but this has in turn, allowed the consumer to become more accustomed to products. They have been allowed time to build an affinity with brands and the products – a fact suppliers hope will lead to long-term loyalty.
The changes in legislation via classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) have diverted time and attention from the number of new launches we have come to expect. CLP of substances and mixtures means chemicals now need to be classified for their hazards and labelled accordingly. Ensuring this was rolled out to exact standards demanded prioritisation. However, we are still expecting to see further improvements to the key subcategories of adhesives and I suspect we will see a number of manufacturers improving and updating their product offerings.
I envisage an increase in the size of the overall adhesive market in the UK, with a larger share being taken by the new breed of adhesives that could surface from a revised focus on research and development.
Several manufacturers have increased their market exposure over the past couple of years and, with the merger of Sika and Everbuild, 2016 could be a year of increased competitiveness for the bigger, more established manufacturers, which ultimately leads to an overall better product offering. I see existing suppliers consolidating and keeping themselves competitive as opposed to seeing new suppliers take to the stage.
The sealants and adhesives market has always been complex and differs from country to country. Gorilla Glue has been available in the UK market for a number of years and 2015 was excellent for the company. We’re looking forward to an even better 2016 - both for us and the wider industry.
Simon Damp is managing director of Gorilla Glue Europe.