With so many political, economic, and industry, factors currently influencing the fastener market we decided to invite leading fastener businesses, from all European countries, for an insight into the prospects and challenges of their domestic markets.
We asked them to consider not just economic and financial issues but also technology drivers for the fastener industry and to identify priorities for the future. We are really grateful for the time and thought generously invested in assembling a unique perspective of the European fastener landscape.
For space reasons we have edited some contributions but have been careful to retain the core of each contributor’s insight. Of course, there will be other, and perhaps divergent, viewpoints. Yours may well be one and we would be very happy to hear it for a future issue: firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, we hope you find this anthology as fascinating as we have.
Ian Doherty, chief executive officer
No review of the UK market is possible without considering the looming shadow of BREXIT. The uncertainty, will we or won’t we and if we do will there be a deal or not, has adversely impacted the manufacturing and commercial construction markets.
However, the domestic housing market, both in terms of new build and repair and improvement, has continued to grow.
The UK manufacturing sector has had to cope with slowing economic growth in the UK and globally; stock building in anticipation of a BREXIT in March followed by destocking as the deadline moved; uncertainty delaying investment; and a marked slow down in the important automotive sector. These challenges pass on to the fastener industry where having the financial stability to cope with these peaks and troughs has been important to Hexstone’s continuing success.
We remain well prepared for any BREXIT outcome, having become an Authorised Economic Operator to facilitate fast-track imports and exports to the EU and the rest of the world, carrying deep stocks and having set-up a subsidiary in the Republic of Ireland.
Like many other markets we see increasing demands from customers for supply chain assurances, whether they be in terms of product traceability, certifications, environmental or ethical trading standards. In parallel, regulation worldwide is increasing, BREXIT will not change this, in fact it adds further complication with the introduction of UKCA to replace CE Marking.
The UK will recognise CE Marking as equivalent to UKCA, but the EU will not be reciprocating. For those of us who export to the rest of the EU, CE Marking will remain a requirement, which means two separate certifications and higher costs for UK players. At Hexstone, we have continued to invest in our systems and processes to meet these needs and consolidate our position as the first choice wholesaler in the UK market.
Having input into the development of regulation and standards is critical. The UK and Irish trade association BIAFD and in turn its membership of EFDA in a wider European sense, not just EU, fulfils this role. Continuing industry support for these trade bodies is vital if our voice is to be heard. Looking forward, I believe that whilst there will always be a place for the independent distributor, we will continue to see consolidation within the industry. I also think there is real opportunity in bringing the industry supply chain into the 21st century.
Compared to the fast moving consumer goods industry many of the industry’s supply chains and approaches are decades behind. I am not talking so much in terms of automated warehouses – which may or may not be appropriate – but more in terms of data, systems and communications. There will be many challenges, opportunities and exciting times ahead!
Ian Jennings, managing director
2019 has been an interesting year so far for the global economy and the role of politics in that, but the core fundamentals of the clamping business remain unchanged.
With the ever increasing technical knowledge and understanding of the end user, through the spread and osmosis of information, Jubilee® Clips sees continuing trends towards demand for higher product performance, on top of commercial drivers such as consolidating suppliers to control costs, as well as a growing appetite for supply chains to achieve higher levels of ethics regarding green issues and staff welfare.
Certainly, the first half of this year has seen some erratic market activity, perhaps for entirely logical reasons, but with a neutral net effect on businesses with a truly global footprint. In March we saw some European distributors stocking up to protect them from any market impact they might foresee and we saw some UK distributors destocking domestically manufactured items to invest in their stocks of imported products.
Then in April we saw those distributors with high stock levels run them back to normal and those with low stocks build them back up to regain service levels. Jubilee Clips also has an exposure outside Europe greater than inside (hardly surprising when you consider how much of the global economy exists outside of Europe) and there market confidence has been driven by entirely different factors meaning that our well diversified distribution network has protected us well from the wide range of approaches seen inside Europe.
In emerging markets, Jubilee specifically has seen the trend towards value over pure cost per unit continue. Factors such as corrosion resistance, higher clamping force, and durability torque, are increasingly the topic of conversation in markets that traditionally might not have had such drivers as well prioritised in their sourcing strategies.
That is inherent in a developing market and conversations regarding material type further than simply carbon steel or stainless steel are now as common in some ‘emerging’ markets as they have been in developed markets for some time.
We see the importance of strong brands such as Jubilee growing in the MRO sector across the globe with buyers relying on trusted brands in product selection more than ever. With those making buying decisions decreasingly afforded the opportunity to handle products before making purchasing decisions, especially with online ordering increasing. This offers growth opportunities for distributors carrying the best regarded brands in the UK and in all markets.
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 12 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.
Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.