A new game plan

Sliders UK completed its MBO in April. Steve Mines, sales director and part-owner of Sliders UK explains what it means for its customers and the industry.

If you look at the stats, MBOs are almost without exception good for businesses and their customers. They lead to product development, investment, improved services and growth – and we’re already a long way on that journey.

Created without debt-funding, the management buy-out, chairman Ian Longbottom and I will remain in our respective roles, and we are joined by Alex Murphy (previously operations director) and finance director Jonathan Foxcroft.

Mike Spain, who co-founded Sliders UK with Longbottom in 2002, will leave the business. Mike decided it was the right time to go – the MBO was the obvious way forward and we have been working towards that for some time.

Given how long we’ve been working towards it, our customers aren’t going to see much change on a day to day basis. However, the new senior management team is committed to long-term investment in our business and geared up for growth.

A recent study of more than 300 companies by Nottingham University found 84% said that MBOs had delivered increased growth. It also revealed that 70% had increased their product range, 63% had expanded into new markets, and 52% had invested in their infrastructure.  

We were very conscious that the MBO didn’t delay our investment programme or impact on service. This has included major investment in a new composite door line, our fleet and manufacturing facility – a 10,000 ft2 expansion.

Offering lead times of just two weeks, Sliders UK also launched four new products last year. This includes PremiLine PRO patio from Kömmerling, which was added to its Part Q-approved Ultimate inline sliding door and bifolding door ranges.

The Ultimate Evolution and Duraflex bifold doors were launched last autumn. PAS24:2012 and Part Q compliant, the new Duraflex bifolding door is fully integrated with our Diamond suite; featuring beveled and chamfered options it achieves a DER ‘A’ rating and U-values as low as 1.1Wm2/K.

It also features a fully adjustable jamb option, which fitted to both sides of the door makes squaring and setting faster – cutting installation time to as little as 45 minutes.

The Ultimate Evolution is our own product. It delivers some very strong commercial advantages and it’s been important in driving our growth. We see this kind of Innovation as  key going forward.

At the end of 2016, product innovation contributed to a 16% jump in our turnover year-on-year.

‘The Window, Door and Conservatory Markets in Housing in Great Britain’, from Palmer Market Research paints a mixed picture through to 2020, reporting a 0.7% fall in volumes for the industry as a whole in 2015. It also warns of the potential negative impact of hard Brexit on UK construction.

Brexit is still an unknown quantity – there are market and wider economic challenges but despite this we remain confident of continuing growth and are investing in our product and service offer to drive it.

We’re a specialist within the industry, and for that reason we have been a little more insulated from the economic drivers affecting it more broadly.

A lot of our products are also growth areas: aluminium bifolds are tipped for major growth; patios were up industry-wide by 6% in 2015; while composite doors are forecast for growth of 22% through to 2020.  

What we can’t afford to do don’t intend to do, is sit back. The MBO gives us the springboard to future product development and service innovation.