Des Moore

Should you invest in system scaffolding now? If ‘no’ is your gut reaction, perhaps it’s time to think again. Layher System scaffolding could not only get you through a downturn, but set you up to deliver new income streams when the economy improves, argues Des Moore, Brand Ambassador for Layher UK.

In February, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said we were in a ‘technical recession’. This was after the announcement that the UK’s economy had contracted by 0.3% in the final three months of 2023. 

Whatever you want to call it, all of us in business know there’s been a downturn or slowdown – and no real signs of significant growth. That puts a squeeze on our core markets and means that scaffolding contractors are under pressure to cut costs, or look for new ways to bring in money. 

Although there are sectors that can pick up quickly after a downturn – such as housing – scaffolding contractors always need to be aware of where their work is coming from. Scaffolding contracting companies rarely have their whole financial year planned out in terms of confirmed contracts, and this can be a real issue for concern when work slows down. 

And, of course, this is an election year. Most people are expecting an autumn election and although it looks like there will be a change of government, and therefore hopefully some additional investment in our key sectors, scaffolding contractors are unlikely to see any measurable financial value before the end of the year. 

What you can be, however, is in the best possible place to keep control of your costs during 2024 and to take advantage of new opportunities into 2025. And that means looking at the benefits of Layher system scaffolding.


My experience with Allround System Scaffolding

As I explained in my Scaffmag article earlier this year, I used the Layher Allround Scaffolding System in exactly the same economic circumstances as we have now. It was during the recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s when we needed to reduce labour costs and access new markets. 

It wasn’t unusual to hear stories of contractors’ turnover dropping by as much as 50% in a single year – we’ve never seen a recession as bad as that, but you still need to be prepared for difficult times. 

In my case, I used Layher’s system scaffolding to develop significant business in the aircraft maintenance industry, working across a number of airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Manchester and Filton Airport in Bristol. The versatility of Layher’s product made it ideal for the market, and it was a profitable venture, with margins that were significantly better than in our other markets.  

We became the main supplier to this market, for nearly five years. When we moved our equipment away from airports, we began using it in other mainstream commercial markets and, after an investment of around £20 million in total, between 60% and 70% of the work carried out by TRAD Scaffolding was done with Layher’s Allround System Scaffolding. 

“Unlock growth potential with Layher System Scaffolding”

This demonstrates how embracing the benefits of system scaffolding – and Layher’s product in particular – can play a significant role in your business’s growth, allowing you to access new sectors and establish new markets. What’s more, at a time when you need to make critical labour savings, it allows you to modify your business cost-effectively, to take advantage of new markets, which in turn will give you the opportunity to expand. 

For me, there are several key benefits to using the Layher Allround system:

  • Unrivalled stock levels on the ground across the UK in four locations.
  • A clear partnership approach – your success is Layher’s success
  • Brand awareness = everyone knows Layher is the go-to supplier for system scaffolding. What Hoover is to vacuum cleaners, or Monarflex is to plastic sheeting, Layher is to system scaffolding!
  • In-house training facility available to all customers to help them get the most out of system.
  • Often approached by Tier 1 and Tier 2 contractors, demonstrating that its product is first choice.

To hire or to buy?

There are strong commercial and financial arguments for investing in Layher system scaffolding – and I’ll cover these in a future article – but obviously not every scaffolding contractor has the money to invest up front. So the obvious answer is to look for options where you can try Layher’s product out on your projects without having to commit to buying a lot of stock in advance.

The Layher Rent-to-Own and Rent-to-Try schemes were launched to make its system scaffolding more accessible and affordable for companies across the UK. Supporting the company’s four core pillars: Service, Support, Solutions and Supply, this scheme gives companies a trial period with the Allround System Scaffolding product. 

This lets businesses test the materials and experience the benefits first hand, on live projects. If you then want to go ahead and make Layher’s system scaffolding part of your business offering, you can buy the rental materials you have been using, via a rental rebate process, so you turn your initial renting costs into an investment into the equipment.

The Layher system, planned and used properly, can realistically result in a 35%-40% cut in labour costs. I ran a successful scaffolding business using the product, so I know first-hand what difference it makes. I’m always happy to talk to anyone about this – you can connect with me on LinkedIn to get in touch.

Take the time to rethink!

While an economic downturn is a concerning prospect for any business, you should always use it as an opportunity to rethink the way you do business. Every scaffolding company should be saying, “If a recession happened tomorrow, what would I do?”. Then, whatever the answer is, start doing it today. 

That way, you’re prepared for the future, and able to adapt to the challenges the business faces. Putting your head in the sand risks your business, and the livelihoods of the people who depend on you, so you have to face these challenges head on and be creative about how you are going to meet them.

If you think system scaffolding could give you a new basis for growth, then watch out for Layher’s announcements on customer workshops, where I’ll be helping to demonstrate the operational and financial benefits of system scaffolding – and of investing in it wisely.