There is no question that the plumbing and heating industry was affected during the recession. Where do you think the market is heading now?

Question from Paul Ricketts, via e-mail:
There is no question that the plumbing and heating industry was affected during the recession, with new bathrooms, kitchens and boilers falling to the bottom of homeowners’ priority list. Where do you think the market is heading now?

Answer from Kelvin Stevens, managing director of PTS:
The recession was an incredibly difficult time for the majority of UK industries and small businesses were of course hit hard. Job numbers dropped with homeowners having less disposable income. However, I believe that the industry has seen a big improvement since this time last year and it is continuing to get stronger.

A big turning point was the boost given by the boiler scrappage scheme last year. The industry is definitely noticing the absence of a similar scheme in 2011, so the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been warmly received.

The imminent arrival of the RHI should result in a greater take-up of the Micro-generation Certification Scheme (MCS), as applicable installations must be completed by an accredited installer. PTS lends its support to the MCS scheme as we believe it is an opportunity for installers to stay ahead of the game in a market that will only continue to grow.

With the success of EcoBuild 2011 alongside the international pull of ISH 2011, it seems that it won’t be much longer until installers find renewables an essential part of their working lives. We hope that by offering MCS training and by continuing to educate our own staff, it will be easy for customers to learn more about the benefits of investing in schemes of this kind.

Many market analysts warned about a possible ‘double-dip’ recession. Although it is still difficult out there, I don’t believe this will happen in our industry. However, government support continues to be vital. The switch to ‘A’ band boilers and the boiler scrappage scheme have demonstrated the willingness of homeowners and the industry to respond and the benefits they bring when successful.

The close-knit nature of the industry is a real strength and makes it ideal for the sharing of knowledge and the development of new ideas. Therefore, I’m confident the plumbing and heating industry will continue going from strength to strength and that we’ll see some exciting developments in the years to come.

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