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Like most aspects of the construction business, this category has seen decent growth as building matures in Christchurch and Auckland. Marley’s Group Product Manager Scott Townsend is happy also to report healthy signs of recovery in Wellington and Tauranga where the company’s Stratus Designer Series (see sidebar on page 36) has seen good uptake.
Murray Brown of Browns Brushware also reports steady demand for products such as Gutter Whiskers that provide cleaning and maintenance for roofs and guttering systems. Brown feels that consumers are steadily realising the benefits of recognised brands in this category.
“I believe there is demand for quality brands that have been proven over years in a demanding market and consumers are becoming wary of the failure associated with the growing number of ‘me too’ mostly Chinese made lines,” he says.
“The current high dollar does affect local NZ manufacturers like Marley as it encourages importing of foreign products, many of which haven’t necessarily been designed, tested or proven to perform in the New Zealand environment,” he says.
Murray Brown elaborates on the practice as he has seen it done in all areas of the hardware channel: “The low-cost import products pervade all categories and, let’s be honest, there is still a lot of gas left in the Chinese tank,” he says.
Many would argue that there are plenty of very reputable Chinese manufacturers currently working with New Zealand companies however. So how do we sort the wheat from the chaff?
Brown continues: “Most importers visit a Chinese trade fair and buy a generic product at a low price, providing they comply with the MOQ to enable them to slap a house brand on it they can take a position in the market.
“The key to the offer is can the importer claim authenticity of the raw material content in their product and that it matches that of the local manufacturer who deals with the composition of raw materials involved in the production of an item?”
A stalwart of the category, Marley is continuing to work on the mix of materials in their products to remain competitive and meet the needs of its consumers.
“Marley continues to innovate to reflect changing customer needs,” explains Scott Townsend. “The local manufacturing model can and does work but it requires constant and agile innovation. The companies that best embrace technological change and recognise how it can benefit the end user, are those that will thrive. For instance, in the rainwater category, manufacturing technology advances are allowing Marley to increase our rate of product development and be first to market with new innovations.”
So meeting the need of consumers will remain paramount for spouting and guttering. But the ever-lurking threat of cheap imports hovers over suppliers who in turn must continue to provide the market with new, innovative products. Watch this space…
HARVESTING RAINWATER: THE BASICS
Lifestyle homeowners have been actively harvesting rainwater for years although the subject has continued to just bubble along below the surface of the mainstream hardware channel. Still a little bit of information goes a long way as they say so here’s a short guide to doing it right.
To ensure a healthy supply of rainwater, the roof, guttering, pipes and other features need to meet certain criteria so water collected isn’t contaminated by decaying vegetable matter, faecal matter or dead animal remains from birds, possums and rats.
To reduce the risk of contamination:
Refer to the sustainable building website www.level.org.nz for more information on all aspects of water supply and drainage.