Darwin wrote in the Origin of Species that it was ‘not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change’. In a period defined by the economic and political turmoil of the Brexit era, the words published by naturalist more than 150 years before have something of a haunting poignancy for business.
“I don’t believe things are disastrous but to suggest things haven’t changed since June’s referendum would be naïve. Things are tougher and are going to be tougher and it’s the businesses which adapt to that change, which will continue to grow”, says Steve Mines, Sales and Marketing Director, Sliders UK.
Sliders UK has been going through a period of significant growth. It reported that it was 30 per cent up year on year Q1 2016 – something which has gone hand-in-hand with product development and for a large part, it’s aluminium portfolio.
The launch of the Veka Imagine as a second PVC-U bi-fold system in addition to its established Eurocell Ultimate Aspect PVC-U offer, was immediately followed by that of PremiLine PRO inline sliding door from Kömmerling in the Spring.
But while reporting continuing demand for its PVC-U ranges, its aluminium which has been the engine house of Sliders UK’s expansion – this included a 225 per cent jump in aluminium bi-fold door sales last year.
There continues to be a definite shift towards aluminium among fabricators and installers, driven, by the ‘Grand Designs effect’. Pre-Brexit referendum forecasts identifying the end user appeal of aluminum with its slim sightlines as s a key driver of overall market growth of around five per cent.
“Brexit has probably been less of an influence on our thinking than consumer and market trends before the referendum”, continues Mines. “The ceiling on aluminium has always been end-user affordability. It has appeal but for a strata of the market there is a potential affordability gap.
“PVC-U systems pick up some of this but we believe that there are other significant areas of opportunity and by offering our customers an alternative aluminium system, we can help them to access them.”
Sliders UK has now followed the launches of its two new PVC-U its two earlier product launches with the launch of the Ultimate Evolution. A second aluminium bi-fold door system to its existing ALUK range, it gives Sliders UK one of, if not the, industry’s largest bi-fold door offers.
“We have seen growth across our portfolio”, continues Mines. “We have seen a real coming of age of the PVC-U bifold systems that we carry, the Veka Imagine and Ultimate Aspect from Eurocell, which have both been drivers of growth and with slim sightlines, are really strong products.
“Time is money. It’s not just the installation efficiencies at the time the door is fitted that count but in making it easier to fit it square, it’s also the potential time saved in call backs”
“But it’s probably aluminium which has underpinned our longer term growth. We have seen sustained demand for the ALUK bi-fold, which again, is a really well-consider and well-designed product.
“The Ultimate Evolution compliments that core offer. It’s technically very advanced – there are some great hardware innovations. But it’s also that little bit more affordable, which opens up a new sector of the market.
The Ultimate Evolution draws on innovation in hardware, combining a ultra-smooth bottom running system with impressively slim sightlines – even compared to other aluminium systems.
This may give it end-user appeal, but it’s an innovative fully adjustable jamb option which dramatically simplifies door squaring and setting and increases tolerances, which is perhaps the biggest single innovation. An easy-adjustment system making if far simpler to align the door even where apertures are out of square.
“Time is money. It’s not just the installation efficiencies at the time the door is fitted that count but in making it easier to fit it square, it’s also the potential time saved in call backs”, adds mines.
The Ultimate Evolution is available in multiple panel configurations including open-in or open-out, with a maximum sash height and width of 3000mm x 1200mm. With colour-matched handles and magnetic door holders, a low threshold option and 30mm polyamide thermal break for increased thermal values, it is also fully tested to PAS 24 and BS6375 Part 1 Weather Testing.
“Given the changes that we’re seeing in the market you really do need to be able to offer end users choice and in reality, a lot of that is going to be based on pressures or otherwise on household income”, says Mines
He concludes: “There is no question about the end-user appeal of aluminium, it comes down to price-point.
“We offer some really good high-end PVC-U systems but the addition of the Ultimate Evolution as a technically advanced but high margin system, gives us and our customers the additional flexibility to sell into a different strata of the market where we believe that their competitors can’t.”