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HomeNewsEXCLUSIVE: Loughton Contracts sales director: 2021 will be bumper year

EXCLUSIVE: Loughton Contracts sales director: 2021 will be bumper year

NICK Perkins, sales director of Loughton Contracts, has told CFJ in an exclusive interview that while the trade stuttered somewhat during the pandemic lockdowns, 2020 wasn’t a bad year in the end, given the circumstances, and that 2021 is shaping up to be a bumper year. But, he adds, the pandemic has had an impact.

‘Back in January 2020 our secured order book was very strong, and the pipeline of work was just the same. But Covid-19 hit and everyone’s lives were turned upside-down. Nobody knew what to expect. Despite everything slowing down enormously at the end of Q2, the industry picked itself back up.

We were fortunate to see our customers put the required safety measures in place, allowing us to return to site.’ Loughton Contracts describes itself as the UK’s leading flooring contractor and says its’ more than 30 years’ experience help it fulfil architects’ and contractors’ designs, on-time and within budget.

The company has been well-represented with outstanding installations at the CFJ/CFA Awards. In the interview with Nick, which is published in this month’s edition (page 30), he points out that it’s by no means been an easy journey – especially for Loughton’s project managers and installation teams ‘on the coalface… to whom we’re extremely grateful’.

Fortunately, since then, orders have increased month-on-month and Nick says it’s now returned to the levels the company was experiencing at the end of 2019. The interview also covers Nick’s views on retentions. They’re a problem for the industry and ‘it’s something Loughton has a firm focus on recovering… at the end of the day it’s the profit sitting there in someone else’s bank account’.

While he understands why they’re in place, he’d prefer retentions gone: ‘I think if you asked any contractor in our position, they’d prefer that they were abolished and replaced with some other mechanism; it’s not right that we should have to wait longer for payment than the agreed period because other trades haven’t completed their own defects.’

Perhaps the most alarming comment made by Nick is that the industry is ‘running out of time’ when it comes to ‘new blood’ in the industry. ‘Getting enough young people into the trade is always a concern as there just doesn’t seem to be the numbers coming through, especially on the installation side of things.

Laying floors isn’t an easy job, it can take years of training while working on construction sites in all sorts of conditions and that isn’t always the most attractive prospect to the younger generation.’

Nick has been in flooring since he was 16 and he tells CFJ that with nigh on 24 years under his belt, and despite his longevity, it wasn’t a career he proactively sought out. Instead, as the story goes, he’d always done quite well at school. ‘I was never in trouble and did well with my GCSEs. But the defining moment came when I was about to start on A Levels.
While I was progressing well in two of the subjects, it became apparent the third wasn’t something I was going to excel at.

After a bit of debating with my parents, I was faced with the choice of staying at school and getting my head down or looking for a job pretty sharpish – my mum wouldn’t have let me leave school without a job.’

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