France: Markets for awnings, shutters, doors, and gates totaled 3.1 billion euros in 2022 7 out of 10 French people suffer from heat in their homes

In a market study, the French group Actibaie has drawn up a balance sheet for the sectors of blinds, shutters, automatic pedestrian doors, industrial and garage doors and gates, which represent an economy of 3.1 billion euros by 2022 for manufacturing in France. Despite significant sales growth in recent years, uncertainties persist due to a lack of visibility. In this context, small and medium-sized businesses are the most vulnerable.

In a villa equipped with many windows in the south of France, the bright sun quickly causes temperatures to rise. Even on the south-facing terrace, the sun often burns a little too much. At Domaine Du Prieuré, a solution was therefore sought with the support of Renson. The corner windows and the large flat window sections received Panovista Max as well as a Fixscreen sunshade; on the terrace, in turn, an Aero louvre roof was installed. The screens prevent the sun's rays from hitting the large glass sections. The roof with its movable slats allows light incidence and air circulation to be controlled. And the terrace remains dry in the event of a rain shower. - © Renson

On the strength of these positive figures, the Actibaie group deplores the fact that summer comfort is still far too absent from renovation initiatives at a time when 7 out of 10 French people suffer from heat in their homes. This thermal suffering is therefore a priority for the member companies of the Actibaie group. Blinds, shutters, automatic pedestrian and industrial doors, gates, and garage doors. For all sectors, apart from interior blinds, sales increased. In value terms, the increases were very substantial, due to the integration of prices for raw materials and energy. This is a misleading observation, as volumes are tending to stabilize after two very intense post-Covid years.

Of the industry‘s 3.1 billion euros in sales, shutters account for the lion‘s share with 1.760 billion euros. They are followed by awnings (783 million euros), doors and gates (430 million euros), and automatic pedestrian doors (120 million euros). Actibaie Group members account for 80% of these sales. After a slight dip in 2020 due to the health crisis, the market for external shutters and awnings has been very dynamic since 2020, boosted in particular by the commitment to work by households after the pandemic and the savings accumulated during this period. Roller shutters are the leader in this segment, with a total volume of 4.7 million units sold in France in 2022.

The overall market for interior blinds (only made-to-measure blinds are counted) is on a downward trend, above all due to the sector‘s strong dependence on office markets, which have experienced a crisis in recent years. As for automatic pedestrian doors, the market has been growing slightly in recent years, boosted in part by building accessibility regulations. Finally, the garage door and gate markets also grew in the residential sector, following the pandemic, a trend which is now stabilizing. The industrial sector (sectional doors, high-speed doors) has been strongly boosted by the development of logistics sites, which are heavy consumers of doors and access equipment.

A sector that‘s hiring in France

Faced with this increase in activity, the doors, gates, shutters, and awnings sector is hiring en masse for all positions, but is struggling to find qualified people, particularly for technical jobs.

The relationship with work has changed considerably since the health crisis: many sectors of activity have seen their professions devalued, and the closure and solar shading sectors have not been left behind. Today, French companies wishing to expand have to limit themselves, as they do not know whether they will be able to meet their orders. For the next five to ten years, French professionals will be busy with handling crisis management to deal with recruitment issues.

This shortage of personnel will have repercussions on company managers, who will now have to assume several functions. Today, summer comfort is a well-regarded aspect of new building activities in France, but it‘s a subject that‘s completely missing in renovation projects. And yet, according to a study carried out by the Actibaie group and by IFOP (French Institute for Public Opinion) in the summer of 2022, 7 out of 10 French people will be suffering from heat in their homes. Referred to as “thermal suffering” by the French trade unions, summer comfort has become a health issue to offset the predicted rise in temperatures, again announced this month in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Intensity of simulated heatwaves in climate 2000 and in climate 2050 RCP 4.5

It‘s also an ecological emergency and a real social issue. We know that heatwaves are set to become more frequent and more intense, and manufacturers of closures and solar shading systems are well aware of the solutions that make it possible to combine the habitability of homes with energy efficiency. In France, we also need to train professionals in these issues. In direct contact with end-users, they are the prescribers who can ensure optimal use of these solutions. Automation and home automation can also optimize the performance of solar shading systems.

“Today, we need to move away from technical discourse, so that professionals can ensure that solutions are used correctly. Remember that according to the International Energy Agency, the number of air conditioners in use around the world today is estimated at 3.6 billion, a figure that is increasing by around ten units – per second. In France, the increase is equally spectacular, with private individuals expected to be equipped with 25% by 2020, compared with 14% in 2016/2017” (source: ADEME – French Environment and Energy Management Agency).

Faced with these figures, the French closure and sun shading sector has a major card to play in guiding and accompanying our fellow citizens towards an increasingly reasoned use of air conditioning to limit its impact on the environment. A role reinforced by an IPCC report dated February 27, 2022, which states that “cooling energy demand in Southern European buildings is projected to increase by 81-104% by 2035 and 91-244% after 2065 compared to the 1961-1990 period, depending on the level of global warming. Increases of 31% to 73% by 2050 and 165% to 323% by 2100 compared to 1996-2005 have been estimated for Northern European buildings.”

Record demand for pergolas in France,with annual growth more than 20%

Year after year, the pergola confirms its breakthrough in the world of outdoor protection. Already enjoying double-digit growth rates until 2019, the pergola market will benefit from further momentum in 2020 and 2021, with record demand. The health crisis has reinforced the theme of living well at home, prompting French households to invest in their homes to improve comfort and, in particular, enjoy their outdoor spaces. Confined to their homes for several months, deprived of some of their leisure activities and with record savings thanks to public aid measures (long-term partial activity in particular), households are committing to home improvement work.

The “bioclimatic” pergola (with adjustable slats) is benefiting from this craze, thanks to its modern aesthetic and, above all, its hybrid positioning between the veranda (more expensive) and the awning (less protective). For more than a decade, the success of aluminum-framed pergolas has been undiminished, proving that this equipment is not just a fad (aesthetics), but a demand driven by long-term needs (utility).

In 2021, the aluminum pergola market has broken the 30,000-unit sales barrier for the first time, with annual growth in excess of 20%. Industry players estimate that the aluminum pergola market has not yet reached its full potential, which stands at around 50,000 sites a year, like the in-ground pool before its record years of 2020 and 2021.

Motorization becoming standard

When it comes to louvered pergolas, then motorized and adjustable systems clearly dominate sales volumes. With the virtual disappearance of fixed-slat systems and the decline of manual systems, this type of equipment tends to become a standard feature of the product range (although there will always be a demand for this economical offer). Pergolas with adjustable and retractable slats remain a familiar product for the moment, with a limited range and a high entry price for the buyer. This range functions as a showcase product, enabling manufacturers to demonstrate their innovative expertise ("technological showcase") and thus standing out in a market that has become more competitive. Behind the slatted pergola, canvas structures enjoy a favorable dynamic, with a competitive price and a greatly enriched/modernized offer.

However, the French industry has had to absorb significant price increases

Despite this momentum, the health crisis is causing a profound imbalance in the French pergola market. The residential sector is flourishing, while demand in the non-residential sector is plummeting (particularly as for cafés and restaurants and the hotel sector). Products with an economical profile (sometimes referred to as "pavilion pergolas") were a big hit. At the same time, the global crisis in raw materials and components is catching up with the industry, which is having to absorb major price increases (+10-15% in 2021) and longer delivery times. Continued price rises could ultimately slow down the democratization of aluminum pergolas, calling into question their future growth prospects.

The future is connectivity

The trend over the next few years will be towards a simpler pergola with a limited number of accessories, with the aim to offer an attractive introductory price. Nevertheless, the pergola product will continue to benefit from innovation in the future, from accessorizing to connectivity and upgradability. The pergola is an item of equipment that now attracts a great deal of interest, but still benefits from a relatively low take-up rate, especially when compared with other protective equipment (such as the veranda). Households are also often unaware of the budget required to purchase a pergola. Apart from price and available options, pergola manufacturers will be stepping up the battle of distribution and communication (brand, product) to differentiate themselves.

Frédéric TaddeÏ, Verre & Protections Mag

Sources: Actibaie, MSI Reports, TBC Innovations, Xerfi, IFOP, AIE/IEA, ­GIEC/IPCC, Verre & Protections (periodical).