“We needed a supply partner for the long-term”, says Graham Shemmings, Managing Director, Homestyle. “I have perhaps another five or so years in the business but my son and daughter will take it over and we needed a supplier that would provide us with the right product, the right service but also who we felt we could partner with for the long-term.”
Operating throughout the Anglian region, Homestyle set up by Graham in 1999 operates across sites in Ipswich and also Newmarket, as Micron Windows, acquired by the Homestyle MD in 2014. It also has a separate trade counter business, Trade Supply Windows, which started trading in 2002.
“We’ve been fortunate, we’ve seen sustained growth right the way through but I don’t think that you can always assume that that’s going to continue and you need to invest in your service but also your product offer”, continues Graham.
“We’d been with our previous supplier for a long time and had been happy with the service and support from them – we tend to be pretty loyal and not to jump around.
“But they simply couldn’t offer us the product range that we needed to remain competitive in a retail environment. The market has changed significantly and will continue to change. We needed a supplier who could deliver on service and support – but also product.”
He cites the shift to colour as a key driver. Homestyle has reported significant growth in sales of foiled product, with anthracite grey now accounting for 30% of all windows it supplies. “Demand for grey has been phenomenal”, continues Graham.
“Ironically it’s been driven by demand for aluminium. Programmes like Grand Designs have raised the profile of that sort of urban, contemporary aesthetic and PVC-U has also benefitted because of its greater affordability.
“We manufacture our own aluminium bi-fold door system because of the growth and the demand that we’ve seen for it but that’s been accompanied by demand for grey foiled PVC-U.”
Emplas announced the expansion of its ex-stock colour range at the end of last year. Cutting lead times and reducing costs it’s new offer, has been carefully designed to support installers in tapping into growing end-user demand for premium foiled finishes.
It means that foiled Cream, Anthracite Grey, Anthracite Grey on White, Black Brown, and Black Brown on White are now available as ex-stock standard colours.
Sitting alongside existing ex-stock foil colours including White, Golden Oak and Rosewood, Emplas’ most popular foils are now available in lead times of 10 days or less.
That this offer has also been developed drawing on Emplas’ direct retail experience, gained through its G-Award winning installation business T&K Home Improvements, is another plus for the Homestyle MD.
“The product offer from Emplas is right but also the service and support. It’s been incredible. They get retail and have their own retail business. The support is there but it’s also the right support and founded on something that they have genuine experience of”, says Graham.
He argues that demand for foils has also contributed to a higher installed-values – a trend also identified by industry commentators.
Published at the end of last year, The Window, Door and Conservatory Markets in Housing in Great Britain, by Palmer, argues that a flattening of the market in 2015 saw total volume fall by 0.7%.
This was, however, offset by a shift towards higher-end products and higher value installations, which delivered a 2% increase in installed value to £4.20 billion – something attributed to the shift in premium PVC-U products.
Emplas added its own premium offering, the Optima Flush Casement to its range in March this year. Opening-up significant new opportunities in retail, Optima has been designed by Profile 22 to emulate traditional timber window design.
This includes a defining flush casement finish, mechanically jointed options, traditional top and deep bottom sash rail options and heritage dummy sash on frames with fixed lights. It’s also available with integrated hardware including monkey-tail handles and dummy peg stays.
With a simple chamfered finish to the sash externally, the outer-frame is available in either the Optima sculptured (QS) or chamfered (QC) finish internally. Available in 24mm glazing with astragal bar options, Optima Flush is supplied by Emplas as a WER A+ window as standard. Typical U-values start at 1.3W/m2K.
“The flush sash is another important trend”, says Graham. “It’s clearly going have reach into the heritage market and appeal with owners of older properties so being able to access it is an advantage.
“The other area where we’re seeing a lot of interest and growth both in volume and in installed value is in the conservatory market – by this I mean glazed-extension and orangery-type installations – and particularly solid roofs. We see this as being a real growth area in retail going forward”, says Graham.
This again rings true with Palmer’s wider analysis. According to The Window, Door and Conservatory Markets in Housing in Great Britain, (October 2016) the market for replacement conservatory roofs was up 62% in 2015 to 11,200 installations and is forecast for continuing growth through to 2020.
Emplas launched the new tiled UltraRoof380 light-weight and high performance solid roof system in late spring. Manufactured by Ultraframe, the UltraRoof380 is a highly-engineered solution weighing in at only a little more than a traditional glass roof at 38KG/m2. This means that it can sit on existing window frames and fitted in as little as a day.
Available in carbon grey, harvest brown and terra brick finishes, engineered copolymer interlocking roof tiles offer a strong aesthetic match to traditional roof tiles and slate finishes.
The lightweight modular system can also be designed to accommodate Velux-style roof-lights or far lower cost roof windows. Inside an internal pelmet, and plastered roof replicates a traditional vaulted ceiling, a stepped detail, also providing an ideal location for spot lights.
“Product is moving forward all the time and retail changes very rapidly”, says Graham. “I also believe that building a strong working relationship with your supplier, the trust – not just service and delivery is key.
“The minute it gets out to market that you’re changing supplier the phone starts ringing and you get a lot of approaches but no one came close to that made by Emplas. We felt straight away that we could work with the team.
“We went up to Wellingborough and met Ryan [Johnson, Managing Director, Emplas] but also almost everyone else – customer services, dispatch, quality control (I think they had about four guys working on it alone) – and by the time we got back in the car the decision was made.
“They’re a business that not only offers great products but the support and the relationship and we felt that they were the right company to help us achieve our own goals of future growth.”