In order to meet the needs of its customers and the market, ForgeFix has taken several steps in recent years to develop the products and services it can provide as a specialist supplier of fixings and fasteners.
Established in 1991, ForgeFix can supply in excess of 5,000 different product lines to trade customers, including builders merchants, plumbing and heating merchants, DIY outlets and hardware stores. The company has also successfully developed brands that are well known within the market. “With the introduction of our Spectre™ brand we were finally able to offer our customers a ‘good, better, best’ range of brands – F&F, Spectre™ and Forgefast,” points out Paul Swift, managing director at ForgeFix. “Since the launch of the Spectre™ brand it has proven to be our fastest growing brand as it delivers in terms of both performance and price.”
ForgeFix has also looked to develop products and lines to meet the developing needs of the market. “In the construction industry there have been a number of changes in the last few decades, with timber frames replacing brick for many internal walls, etc. We have therefore introduced a range of products to meet these additional demands and continuously review our product lines to meet our customers’ expectations for the future,” mentions Paul.
Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a major challenge to the business over the last two years, it has also led to ForgeFix looking to redefine how it manages its supply chain and customer offering. “A prime example is that we are now far less reliant on just one factory for each product range and also less reliant on the major shipping lines, opting to use a far more reliable service of charter vessels. From our customers’ perspective, we have also amended the format of our price list, introducing further price breaks in order to pass on incremental savings to our customers. These price breaks can be viewed on our upgraded website.”
The subsequent foreign policies aimed at controlling the transmission of Covid-19, such as travel restrictions; as well as the high shipping costs; and erratic supply from the Far East; plus the anti-dumping duty on Chinese fasteners into Europe; have all been factors that have shaped ForgeFix’s future purchasing decisions when assessing product development.
“The pandemic has taught us all some very difficult lessons. We cannot continue to rely on purchasing the vast majority of our products from the other side of the world in the hope that everything will return to the way it was ‘pre-Covid’. We cannot control the greed of the shipping companies; the political decisions made by other countries; or ‘Mother Nature’ herself. All we can do is mitigate and reduce risk, and to do this we need to explore new markets to ensure we do not have ‘too many eggs in a very large, unwieldy basket’,” explains Paul. “With this in mind, it is also far more likely that we will purchase products far closer to home than we have in previous years, with European manufacturers being the obvious first choice. Purchasing nearer to home will also reduce our carbon footprint, which is something that many of our customers have expressed as one of their chief requirements for the future, as part of sustainability policies.”
Another area in which ForgeFix has looked to develop to meet the needs of customers is its stock availability, which has been an issue for the whole industry over the last twelve months. “To ensure that we have sufficient stocks in the event of future lockdowns, shipping disasters, or raw material shortages, etc, we have invested heavily in both additional stocks and warehousing to accommodate this,” points out Paul. “We currently have the highest stock value we have ever had, even after factoring in the huge increases the industry has experienced over the last two years.”
Paul continues: “We have seen the cost of our goods increase between 30% – 50%. We have absorbed much of this cost, but have been forced to review our prices far more regularly than before. For our September price review, we have actually been able to reduce the list price for many of our products – with the vast majority remaining unchanged. The good news is that the high cost of shipping appears to be abating and raw material costs have slowly started to fall. Unfortunately, we will not see the benefit of these reductions until current and pre-ordered stock washes through, and this could be Q2 of 2023.”
ForgeFix has also looked to provide solutions to customers when it comes to the anti-dumping duties that were announced at the beginning of the year. “ADD have made a huge impact on our customers in both Ireland, Northern Ireland and the continent. As Forgefix did not have a warehouse outside of the UK, we were unable to act as the importer and reclaim VAT at point of import into the EU. This meant that our customers had to take on this burden of responsibility, which for many was not ideal. Currently, we are trialling a third party logistics operation in Europe, which will eliminate this burden for our customers. We can also ensure that all stock going into that building is of non-Chinese origin, supplying Europe and Northern Ireland with a more limited but ADD free range of products. This is just another example of how we monitor factors in the market and how we listen to our customers and strive to meet their demands.”www.forgefix.co.uk
Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 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.