The holiday park and holiday home decking market has remained buoyant for several years, benefitting manufacturers, distributors, and installers alike. However, as with many industries, the COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark. But how has it affected the sector and what does the future hold?  Mark Cartwright, Commercial Director at DekBoard, shares his thoughts:

Business before COVID

“In this sector, our pace of work has obviously been dictated by the sale of caravan and holiday homes. Before the pandemic hit, the market for holiday homes had been reliable and consistent, enabling manufacturers, such as DekBoard, to keep up with demand and provide installers with the products they need on time and on budget. This consistency has allowed manufacturers and installers to have a ‘proactive’ approach to sales, which has led to a gradual upward growth trend in the market. 

“However, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions has turned all this on its head over the past few years.

The consequences of COVID

“Unlike other industries such as hospitality and the arts, which have been hard hit by the pandemic and associated lockdowns, the holiday home decking market has seen demand soar. ‘Staycations’ have become the norm due to holiday makers being unable to travel abroad. This has led to the expansion of many holiday parks, as owners add new holiday home bases for additional accommodation. Although this sounds great for the sector – and it is! – this increase in demand has placed immense pressure on the supply chain.

“The lead time for materials required to build new holiday homes has increased dramatically due to a raw material shortage. This has meant that decking installers have been ‘put on hold’ whilst holiday park owners await the arrival of their new holiday homes. Unfortunately, this means that installers have had to become more ‘reactive’. They must now hold more stock to enable them to meet the requirements of their customers as and when they are needed. For some this may not be an issue, but for others the initial increased material commitment and the additional space needed to store excess stock, combined with the uncertainty of when the holiday homes will arrive, has provided its challenges.

“From a manufacturing perspective, we haven’t had any issues. As we manufacture in the UK, our facility is efficient and our raw material supply chain relationships are strong and closely managed. Because of this, we’ve been able to keep ahead of our customers’ requirements and react quickly to the needs of our customers and installers. Personally, I believe this ‘reactive’ trend will continue for at least the year ahead.

Post COVID positivity

“Preparing for a more ‘reactive’ approach to business over the next few years will enable more businesses to thrive. However, in general, the holiday decking market is on the up. The continuing trend for ‘staycations’, particularly in higher end accommodation such as lodges and residential specification units, means there will always be demand for new or replacement decking.

“Our industry is forever changing, and I believe because of this, the future is looking very positive. There will always be a need for our products and the services of those who sell and install them. There will also be a constant demand for new, more innovative products, the development of which will help our industry evolve and move with the times.

Tomorrow’s trends

“Trends will always be dictated by our customers and the most current trend we’re seeing is an increase in lodge sales. In turn, this is leading to a rise in requests for foil balustrades and contrasting decking.  Most lodge exteriors have a timber effect or look, which naturally lends itself to foiled balustrade and either wood grain pattern PVCu or wood composite decking.

“Composite decking can be made to replicate the beauty of natural timber but comes with the added benefits of being virtually maintenance free, rot and split resistant, and splinter free. Accompanying balustrades can also be foiled to imitate the window and door frames of a lodge, allowing them to blend beautifully into their backgrounds.

“Another trend we’re noticing is the increased popularity in glass balustrading, the installation of which allows more of the surrounding area to be seen from the lodge and its deck, providing a panoramic ‘infinity’ look. The colour palette of holiday homeowners is also shifting from traditional browns to more contemporary greys, which is being reflected in their choice of decking and accompanying products.

“It is important for the industry that manufacturers keep up with these new trends to support those businesses further down the chain and their customers. For example, here at DekBoard, we have an inhouse technical team that leads our product development programme. This programme is driven by our customers and installer interaction. By listening closely to the requirements of the end user, we can develop new and innovative materials and products that will help strengthen our customers’ businesses as well as the wider industry.

“Offering a bespoke service is also an important aspect of our business. As the holiday home and park sector expands, so does the need to have a unique selling point.  Although a lengthier process, enabling installers to offer a range of different, specifically designed solutions, helps to raise both them and their customers above their competitors.

An optimistic outlook

“As previously mentioned, the model of our market has changed significantly over the past few years. There is now a need to be ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’ – having the ability to respond to customers quickly and professionally whilst remaining commercially viable. We understand the pressure this places on our customers and installers and are working hard to support both through this period.

“However, if the sector continues its current trajectory, it is a positive outlook for all of us. The continuing trend for ‘staycations’ and the subsequent demand for new holiday homes and lodges will hopefully keep us all in business for a long time to come.”