Getting warmer

“Its warmth was not heat, and its cool was not cold”

At last, there’s a government-organised scheme which is going to benefit some builders merchants – two schemes actually.

The controversial, complicated Carbon Emissions Reduction Target scheme sees energy companies forced to fund promotions on energy-saving initiatives, whether that be free low-energy lightbulbs or money of insulating your loft. Since B&Q ran their high profile CERT-funded ‘million rolls at a quid each’ insulation promotion in March it seems the issue has taken on more and more importance and we’ve been following the developments closely and reflecting them in BMJ – that’s our job.

This particular promotion was controversial, it seems to me, because it so blatantly cut anyone who wasn’t a DIY retailer firmly out of the scheme.

Slightly partisan I may be, but I certainly don’t blame Knauf for their part in that particular deal. Business is not so great that any of us can afford to turn away deals from some of our biggest customers, no matter how distasteful it might seem to other customers.

The problem is that the CERT scheme itself is very, very complex and slightly flawed – August’s issue of BMJ, out next week, features the BMF’s standpoint on this – and tied up with the big DIY retailers. But the energy companies also have tie-ups with the major insulation contractors under this CERT scheme too, which is another way that the merchant distributor is cut out of the picture.

Until now, with the launch of Superglass and Rockwool’s two 2:1 promotions which make the cheaper product available through merchants, in Superglass’s case its merchant customer base, in Rockwool’s Build Center. Hopefully, with the amount of advertising that the relevant energy companies are putting behind the deals, there will be a real benefit and boost to sales.

A couple of questions keep buzzing round my head: Would any of these deals have been done without the furore of the B&Q deal? Possibly, possibly not. And, if they weren’t being forced into this by the government, would the energy companies give a hoot? After all, don’t they make their profits from selling us energy?

It just strikes me as all being a very messy complicated way of doing things. There must be a better way, but the issue’s too complicated for me to work out what that might be.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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