The Scandinavian market is different to the rest of Western Europe. In this interview, Søren Milter Nielsen, Roto’s Head of Customers and Markets Scandinavia, explains why.
Hi Søren, what are the most notable characteristics of the Scandinavian market when compared to Benelux, UK and Ireland?
“In terms of windows and doors themselves, the biggest difference is that PVC is such a small share of the market and less than 5% of the windows sold in Scandinavia. So we really are talking about a wood and alu-clad wood system market.
Within the industry, the biggest difference is the size and number of fabricators. Here, a handful fabricators of windows and doors are covering the majority of the total market. That is very different from other regions like the UK, where there are something like 3,000 fabricators.”
“The Scandinavian market is a mature market with powerful players. They need strong suppliers like Roto who can provide them with a wide hardware platform for windows, sliding doors and entrance doors.”
“In cooperation with Roto’s R&D teams, new demands from the market can be met, bringing projects to life.”
How big are the markets and is there much difference between the countries?
“The Swedish market is the biggest at €600 million. Denmark is next at £428 million, with Finland and Norway being of similar value at €365 and €343 million. All of these markets are projected to grow over the next few years.
Norway has the most pure timber windows, with a roughly equal split between wood and alu-clad wood systems. By comparison, in Sweden and Denmark alu-clad wood systems already account for over two-thirds of all windows. In Finland it is more than 80%.”
What can you tell us about the fabricators?
“As mentioned, a handful of fabricators of windows and doors are covering the majority and, since the 2008 financial crisis, many of the fabricators have grown by making acquisitions. The levels of acquisition have been enormous and this has led us to the current situation, where the biggest clients are of the same size company as Roto, if not larger. That is a scenario we normally only encounter with system houses.
This makes it very different to the rest of Europe, where the fabricators tend to view Roto as being a much bigger company than them.”
Scandinavia is known for open-out windows. Is that still the dominant style?
“Yes indeed. Open-out windows account for 70% of sales in Scandinavia. There is a trend in the Scandinavian market for more slimmer sash and frame construction to let more sun through a window, and also to create a more minimal architectural expression. Scandinavia is known worldwide for its wood furniture designs and this move has been led by designers, who of course are very influential here.
With innovation being one of our strengths, Roto has been able to work with fabricators to design slimline frames that are compatible with our hardware systems. We have also created new specifications.”
How about Tilt&Turn?
“This is something that is gradually growing in popularity. 90% of the business is for NT Designo because the hinges are concealed, so this is something that fits in well with Scandinavian design aesthetics. Although there is also a small market for Roto NX because fabricators appreciate how the modular system gives them cost savings and simplifies logistics with technology like the EasyMix system.”
In terms of sliding doors and windows, how much difference has been made by Patio Inowa?
“This is a product group where we are having a lot of success. Patio Inowa is the reason, because it has advantages that other sliding systems cannot match. The high level of sealing and resulting thermal performance is very important here of course, especially in the winter. It also provides noise reduction, something becoming more of a requirement in cities.
With Inowa you can make units that are outside running and achieve very high watertightness. You can also design your threshold to be less than 25 mm to achieve accessibility. That is something you cannot do with Tilt&Slide or Lift&Slide systems.”
How important are DEVENTER weatherseals as part of the product mix?
“Very important. DEVENTER products give us a super new product range to our product portfolio. I see a big future here for the TPE gasket.
At the moment around 60% of the existing gasket used on windows and doors in Scandinavia is made from EPDM. This type of material is difficult to recycle. The situation will change because companies are moving towards the next generation of gaskets developed as recyclable TPE solutions.
Our DEVENTER gaskets made from TPE are 100% recyclable and are also Cradle-2-Cradle certified. This is a big issue here due to concerns about the environment. Industry boards are already discussing the future scenario where C2C certification is a legal requirement, so it is only a matter of time before the legislation becomes a reality.
I see a big future here for TPE gaskets. Some companies have already started using this material exclusively on their windows and doors. TPE has another advantage because it can be made to very precise tolerances. This is ideal for high end window production of the type we have in the Scandinavian markets.”
What other trends are taking place in the Scandinavian market?
“Noise reduction is a theme we are hearing about more, especially in urban areas. This is perfect for us because we know that our products provide precise sealing tolerances. When you combine Roto hardware with DEVENTER gaskets the sealing against noise is market-leading.
The demands in Scandinavia for burglary resistance are growing year on year. This is another area where Roto already has a strong record with so many tested and certified products.
The Smart Home sector is growing and this will be a big part of the future. Again, Roto is in a good position with so many systems that are Smart Home Ready.
Another trend here in the Scandinavian market is that window fabricators are searching for consistent and solid partners for the future. Roto has proved our resilience in the way we have come through the global financial crisis of the last decade and also the coronavirus pandemic. This puts us in a strong position as a partner that can be relied upon for the long term.
I’m looking forward to Fensterbau next year, where we can meet our Scandinavian clients and build these positive relationships.”
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