By Steve Bohling February 14, 2020 Painting & Decorating

Early in the new decade, what’s happening in and around the painting & decorating category?

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Calling around the players in painting & decorating in January reveals the DIY category as being as crowded, tight and competitive as ever.

And, judging by how hard it’s been to get people on the phone or answer emails, it’s been a busy peak DIY season and suppliers and their customers have been fully occupied replenishing and stocking the shelves!

It’s clear that the two big DIY retailers are now year-round businesses, PlaceMakers too, pretty much, while trade-facing operations including CARTERS and many ITMs for example shut their doors over Christmas and the New Year for relatively extended periods unless fulfilling commitments for customers.

Sika’s Tony Smith for one confirms that his retail customers now “expect service 52 weeks of the year” and that this places demands on his Distribution team to meet expectations.

“No doubt it’s busy out there,” he adds, looking at his sales for the month and growth which clearly reflects the effort Sika’s been putting into replenishing its customers’ shelves.

Given the ongoing growth in the proportion of multi-unit dwellings – apartments, townhouses, flats & units grew to 34% of total residential consents in November 2019 from 30% of the total in November 2018 – I’m keen to find out whether the change in the sort of new dwellings being consented and built is having any effect on the painting & decorating category.

If you take 20 apartments or townhouses versus 20 standalone houses, logically there would be fewer windows, less floor area, roofing, less materials per dwelling?

Having said this, an intensive 50-60-apartment development could be far better for sales of products and materials…

What’s Tony Smith’s take on this?

Too early to read, perhaps, but, closely related to the above, he will confirm that Sika’s now complete, tested and appraised suite of passive fire protection products, “will be big” for the brand in 2020 and will feature large around Sika’s various trade shows and conferences planned for the year.

We’ll be looking more closely at the effect of multi-unit dwellings as the new year develops.   

Aalto Point adds gold…

2019 was a busy year for Aalto Paint. A large brand refresh saw Aalto take home three Gold awards at the Best Design Awards, the annual showcase of Kiwi design excellence run by Designers Institute of New Zealand.

Aalto and Auckland designers Studio South were awarded Gold in Packaging, Colour Graphics and Design Craft, with the judges saying: “Beautifully done. An everyday item elevated to a real premium product. No other paint looks like this.”

The awards recognise Aalto’s commitment to creating a premium paint and colour range and making it accessible to a wide market in NZ, says the company.

Looking ahead, 2020 will see Aalto continue to develop its range of scientifically-formulated, premium paint products and further expand its multi-pigmented colour range.

Generational turnover paints a changing future

In Europe, as elsewhere, professional painters are ageing and retirements will soon enough add tension to an already substantial skills shortage.

Fully one third of Europe’s painters are over 55 years of age, says USP Marketing in The Netherlands, and will likely leave the profession in the next decade or so.

In the UK, where 60% of the painters are currently 55 years or older, this development is expected to hit hardest.

This generational turnover will also impact how merchants and paint brands address this changing professional market over time.

For example, of the painters that are 55+, less than half ever use online sources, whereas more than two thirds of the younger generation of professional painters say they use online sources for information and inspiration.

In Spain and Poland, for instance, thanks to the lower average age of these professionals, there’s greater use of online sources than in other countries (where 78% and 62% of pro painters use the internet respectively).

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