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Why to book your free stove installation estimate now.

(Because? You guessed it…Covid)

Contura stove in a kitchen with mother and daughter
Contura stove

Covid has played havoc with the world economy and the stove industry has not been immune.

Demand for woodburners, which initially dwindled, bounced back strongly in 2020 along with most home improvement products, as many fortunate citizens were stuck at home with furlough pay they couldn’t spend elsewhere. This was a freak occurrence, with unlikely policy responses by governments historically wedded to ‘market discipline’ and austerity. Plenty of businesses were unsurprisingly wrong-footed by the unusual circumstances of a pandemic, and by a Thatcherite government suddenly drinking (if somewhat inconsistently and while holding its nose) the Keynesian Kool-aid.

Alongside the vicissitudes of demand, global supply chains were severed or stretched, commodity markets went haywire and businesses crucial to UK stove production, like British steel, were allowed to collapse. Critical businesses, like a crucial foundry in the Netherlands that nobody had previously ever heard of, also closed, and spares for certain stoves – some of which had previously claimed to be exclusively UK-made – suddenly became unavailable for months. Who knew?

Lead times for some stove producers miraculously remained consistent, but for most, they stretched to months (when the norm is measured in weeks). Where this has been the case, it’s usually because they chose to prioritise safety over production – there’s no blame-game to indulge in. Some have since recovered and are now back up to full, or even enhanced production, others are still struggling.

Steel prices and stoves

Now they are also having to deal with a massive spike in commodity – especially steel – prices, that are wreaking havoc everywhere. Stove and flue prices have accordingly risen pretty much across the board. One or two companies have even instituted an unheard-of second price rise within a year, faced with dramatically escalating prices that have seen the cost of steel more than double in a year.

The consensus from central banks is that these price rises in raw materials are temporary, due to bottlenecks created by surging demand combined with reduced production. So several of our suppliers, to compensate, are now trying to add temporary surcharges to stoves until the commodities spike deflates (instead of increasing RRP).

What this all means for us and you

The net effect for us as stove dealers is that we have unpredictable supply and bobbling prices to deal with. Stove manufacturers are asking us to try to predict demand for the season ahead to even out production and supply. This kind of task isn’t easy at the best of times, let alone on the tail end of a pandemic.

But it’s good in a couple of ways. It’s making us think. It’s making us talk. Contemplation and communication have a history of inspiring fresh thinking and creative improvements. One lesson for us is that information is key, and timely communication with our customers is more critical than ever. We’re instituting systems to improve both.

We’re hoping to make this winter as smooth as possible for our customers, but we would urge anybody hoping to install a stove in 2021 to take action sooner rather than later. To enjoy the fullest choice and to avoid possible disappointment, get the ball rolling now. With some stoves taking two to three months to appear from the time of order, September could thus be the last month in which your dream stove could be ordered for installation before Christmas.

If you’re after a woodburner for this winter, don’t tarry – talk to us now, even if it’s only to explore your options.

And fingers crossed, by this time next year, things will be back to something more like normal…

Family enjoying their Contura stove.
Contura 556 woodburner