How to more than double sales

As a specialist supplier of a niche product, is there still room for Victorian Sliders to grow? Sales director Mark Richmond told Glass Times editor Nathan Bushell that he’s never been more fired up.

The market for PVCU vertical sliding sash windows in the UK is around 4% of the overall window market, and competition is fierce among the handful of fabricators that make increasingly authentic-looking products.

Arguably, what stands Victorian Sliders apart from its competition is its focus on a single product at a single price for a modern set of features regardless of size. Uniquely, Victorian Sliders controls the manufacture and supply of practically every component part, including profile, window units and hardware.

When Glass Times visited Victorian Sliders recently at its home in Ammanford at the end of the M4 in Wales, there was no doubting the company’s ambition to dramatically increase sales and grow the company – the evidence is there for all to see.

For a start, the company recently built a 127,000ft2 extension, taking the total floor space at the fabricator to almost 250,000ft2. This doesn’t include the five satellite distribution depots. That size of factory is large in anyone’s books – about the size of five football pitches – but when you consider that the company only makes one product it clearly demonstrates intent.

However, with seven extrusion lines working full time to service an order book of 1,900 windows every week, a glass processing department that makes the majority of the units, its own profile bending department, its own spray booth, its own foiling line – it is easy to see how that space can be filled. In fact, the company is already looking forward to its next phase of development.

A 2,000-windows-a-week benchmark is usually considered a good achievement for any fabricator, but Victorian Sliders has already a strategy in place to reach a target of 4,500 vertical sliding sash windows a week within two years.

The capacity of the current factory is about the 4,000 mark. When the extension is fully operational in the third quarter of 2017, this capacity will rise significantly – the management team has worked out that its automation and workforce can produce a window sash every 40 seconds, and that is providing the impetus for its nascent sales strategy; the company’s current sales figures were achieved without any particular reliance on an external sales team.

Today, sales director Mark Richmond has been handed the reins of a department that is now 30 strong, and when Glass Times visited, some of the newer recruits were going through their structured induction training. Already 14 demonstration vans kitted out as eco-slide mobile showrooms are visiting Trade Customers nationally.

“Rather than the average sales person dragging a tatty sample from the back of their estate car and wasting time preparing the relevant parts, these demo vans have ten assorted operational windows ready to view, including a bay window sample, prepared to give an excellent choice of the products available and how they perform,” Mark said.

If Victorian Sliders’ sales strategy could be distilled to one simple idea, it is that the 4% market sector for vertical sliders is too low.

“There is the perception that PVCU vertical sliders are expensive and they should only be considered for heritage properties,” Mark said. “However, if you walk up and down any street in the UK, you will see endless examples of poorly replaced windows – the old sliding sash window removed and an inappropriate modern plastic window put in its place.

“Instead of ‘good, better, best’ versions of plastic casements, why not put a sliding sash in there instead, bringing the style and period back into the property?

“Complete with toughened glass top and bottom and many features considered extras by our competitors, Victorian Sliders’ offering is well within the reach of every trade customer.”