Last year was not an easy time for the window and door industry. The still-felt effects of the conflict in Ukraine, worldwide inflation and then the clashes in the Middle East strongly influenced, and continue to influence, the deterioration of consumer sentiment. This, in turn, is negatively impacting demand for windows and doors in Europe. So what was the past year like? What did it look like from Aikon Distribution's perspective? Take a look back at the year 2023.
A difficult year behind us
Rapidly rising inflation, rising prices for raw materials and building materials, as well as a weak economy, meant that demand for windows and doors in 2023 fell sharply. Although the construction industry was seen as the sector that best coped with the effects of the pandemic and other global turmoil, it did not escape the slowdown.
Lower demand in Europe is evident both in new construction, where one third of windows go, and in the renovation market, which accounts for two thirds of all sales. In the case of new residential construction, building permits were issued for more than 24% fewer houses and flats in the EU in H1 2023 than in the previous year. In contrast, the significantly lower start-up activity translated into fewer windows being installed in new buildings in H2 2023.
All of this affects the sale of windows and doors in Europe, and according to the Industry Analysis Centre, in the first half of 2023, the distribution of joinery in the countries of the Old Continent decreased by up to several per cent.
Export of windows from Poland in 2023
The year 2023 was one of the most difficult seasons for the Polish window and door joinery industry. According to reports, window exports from Poland declined sharply in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the beginning of 2022. This is the first decline since the beginning of the pandemic, and yet if this specific and very unusual period were to be excluded, we would be facing the first decline in exports since 2013, i.e. in more than 10 years!
The first reliable summaries show that exports of windows and doors in the first half of the year were down 10.4% year-on-year. The 8 months summarised so far, on the other hand, show that exports are several percent lower than a year ago.
However, the main directions have not changed. We still sell the most windows and doors in Germany. Here too, however, exports have decreased by 8 per cent. The French market, on the other hand, recorded a decline of 0.5 per cent. Of the main importers of Polish joinery, only Italy is in the black - an increase of 23.4 percentage points. On the other hand, the smallest markets suffered very large percentage drops - Lithuania purchased 19.1 per cent fewer windows and doors and Hungary 27.6 per cent.
Experts explain the drop in window sales by the aforementioned inflation, the economic downturn and the unavailability of credit. And it is hard to deny them, as these factors, otherwise strongly linked, influence financial insecurity and thus refrain from major purchases.
2023 - a decline in production
The Centre for Industry Analysis also estimates that in the first half of 2023, approximately EUR 28 billion worth of windows and doors were produced in Europe, 6 - 7 per cent less than in the same period in 2022. In volume terms, however, the decline was far greater. CAB analysts estimate that around 41 million windows were produced between January and June 2023, which is as much as 13 - 15 per cent less than a year ago.
The first half of 2023 also proved to be unfavourable for Polish joinery manufacturers. Production of windows and doors fell by around 20 per cent for both windows and doors during this period. 4.16 million PVC windows were produced, representing a 7.9 per cent decline in relation to 2022. In the case of timber joinery, 3.08 million windows were produced, a decrease of as much as 15%. The figures for aluminium, on the other hand, were - 0.34 million units and - 10.8% respectively.
Everyone is wondering when the economic conditions will improve. According to estimates, there are many indications that we can expect a recovery and an increase in dynamics only in 2025. There is a chance of more sales in 2024 than in 2022, but the expected slight increases will by no means make up for the losses of the current year.
*Source: Centrum Analiz Branżowych
And what did 2023 look like for Aikon Distribution?
Aikon Distribution in figures
In 2023, Aikon Distribution shipped more than 6,000 PVC, aluminium and timber windows and doors to its customers. Our customers also ordered more than 1,100 external blinds and facade shutters and more than 150 door panels.
We have also created many unusual and stunning designs for our customers, which we boast about in our article series: "Curiosities from Aikon Distribution newsletter".
Timber window by Aikon Distribution in 2023
And what else was happening at Aikon Distribution in 2023?
Aikon Distribution in 2023 also saw a lot of changes. We welcomed some talented and qualified new professionals on board. We climbed the Ogrodzieniec rocks and socialised in 'castle' style, near the ruins of a Renaissance castle. We celebrated the 14th birthday of our company, we even moved for a moment to the 1980s and deep into Poland's communist era. Together we welcomed Santa Claus to our company and had a Christmas celebration dinner. We had some very inspiring training sessions and expanded our knowledge of windows and doors. All in all, we had a great time.
Photos of the Aikon Distribution team from various events in 2023
What will 2024 bring us? We enter it full of hope, optimism and the belief that it will be more fruitful than the one we have just said goodbye to.
If you're looking for very good quality windows and doors - get in touch with our salesman. He'll be happy to advise you on the right product and help you buy the joinery of your dreams.