Keep things simple

Steve Mines, sales director of Sliders UK, explains how the company built its entire business model around doors.

We’ve certainly seen a massive increase in demand for our products in the last three or four years, with the majority of our customers serving the home improvement sector, with a few picking up trade and commercial work.

If we focus on demand generated by retail and home improvement first, it’s come primarily from demand for bifolding doors, and then composite doors.

On the former (and as much as it pains me to say it) Grand Designs was pretty influential in generating significant early demand for aluminium bifolding doors, and generated a high degree of consumer aspiration.

That’s generated some pretty amazing growth – 9.3% for all bifolds as at the last count – with notable long term growth forecast for aluminium bifolds specifically, of 50% by 2020 (Palmer).

We have two aluminium bifold door offers: one from Aluk, and the Ultimate Evolution.

This features a fully adjustable jamb option which dramatically simplifies door squaring and setting and increases tolerances to 8mm, making if far simpler to align the door even where apertures are out of square.

This is also a key point. A new generation of aluminium bifolds are not only more energy efficient but much easier to fit; the Ultimate Evolution can be installed in 45 minutes.

Our customers are tapping into this by being more competitive without sacrificing margin, expanding their audience reach.

Aluminium inline sliding doors are also now seeing growth – consumer demand in part generated by a shift in architectural focus and popularised on TV.

We have, for example, recently added Aluk’s BSC94 aluminium inline sliding door to our offer, which is also available in an ultra slimline BSC94-S configuration.

Available in mono, dual or tri rail options, the Ultimate Aluminium Inline Sliding Door delivers flexible design options combined with slim sightlines and advanced technical performance. This includes PAS 24 certification and Part Q approval.

There’s also been massive innovation in composite door technology. Entrance doors are a very personable part of your property. Homeowners have embraced composite doors and the market has responded with some very good products and strong designs.

It’s about people ‘keeping up with the Joneses’; there are new products but also organic growth in demand. More than half of all entrance doors installed in the UK are now composites, that by definition increases awareness and drives growth. According to Palmer this has contributed to a forecast increase in sales of 22% through to 2020.

We’ve again invested in our offer, changing our door leaf to Capstone earlier this year. Part Q and revised PAS24 tests have redefined the composite door landscape creating new requirements.

The Capstone slab meets these by introducing 15mm thick LVL timber inserts to key areas of the door. Intelligently encased inside a foam core and durable GRP skin, these provide additional core strength without impacting on thermal efficiency.

This combination means that it not only achieves U-values of as low as 1.0W/m2K but has also been independently tested to PAS24:2016 – including cut-through testing.

These factors combine to massively increase the appeal of doors in general. If it’s a composite door it looks far better, and offers a far higher degree of insulation and security. It’s tangibly different to a PVCU panel and will perform better than a timber alternative.

How do fabricators and installers take advantage of the opportunities that this delivers? Well the opportunities are there but if you’re a fabricator do you want to interrupt core supply to manufacture an aluminium bifold or sliding door when you could buy-in?

There is a real argument for keeping things simple. The same goes for composites. Do you want to tie-up cash in stock, when you could buy-in? We’d argue, and I appreciate a little self-interestedly, that as a fabricator or an installer buying in from a specialist gives you access to the best product range and the right levels of service.

Ultimately, it’s how we earn our crust and the foundation on which our reputation has been built.