Retail installation, redefined

With FIT now behind us, MD of Bohle Dave Broxton discusses what the show tells us about trends in the UK glazing industry.

Innovation and diversification go hand in hand with industry exhibitions. If you track industry expos such as Glassex from the early 1990s, we’ve had the white PVC juggernaut, coloured and wood grain foiling, the rise and fall of the conservatory, and the explosion in composites and bifolds.

This year has perhaps been what could probably be best described as a shift towards a wider range of home improvements – ‘windowcos’ becoming home improvement businesses and embracing interiors.

This theme defined our own strategy at this year’s FIT Show. Installers, by definition, have a certain skill-set. The window industry may be their core market but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be applied to other areas.

That was really what we saw at this year’s FIT. Installers are changing, they’re offering a more comprehensive home improvement service and reaching-out into new markets.

The addition of balustrading to your offer as an installer is a logical step. It utilises pre-existing skills set of fitters but delivers some very high margin returns as part of an added-value sell.

We supply base rail systems, which are easier to install than traditional post and rail systems, are suitable for a wide variety of applications, and which deliver high margin opportunities.

Bohle’s most popular system is the flexible EasyMount Vario. The system is suitable for floor or lateral mounting, supporting fast and easy installation.

Fully tested to BS6180:2011, the EasyMount Vario offers variable glass adjustment via a moveable base shoe.

Accommodating glass thickness of 12mm to 31.52mm, the Vario uses a simple sliding movement to allow installers to achieve new precision in panel positioning, which, combined with simple fitting requirements cuts installation time by as much as 30%.

The other significant benefit is that this adjustment can be achieved from the balcony side alone. This delivers significant savings on costs associated with access at height, for example the rental of a tower or scaffolding. It’s an obvious add-on sell for anyone working in the home improvement arena.

As well as our extensive range of glass consumables, and of the usual giveaways, we also showcased two new modular and easy-fit sliding door systems which support entry for installers into the architectural glazing sector.

This includes SlideTec Optima 50. Part of our Optima range of internal sliding doors, the easy-install system supports weights of up to 50kg. Mounted to either the wall or ceiling, it can be installed without the pre-drilling of glass, using smart clamping technology.

Accommodating 8mm and 10mm tempered and laminated glass, and spanning openings of up to 6m, it represents a high margin alternative to traditional door installations, or in areas where space may be tight.  

Available with or without dampers, with easy adjustment from the front of the door, it’s a highly effective internal partitioning system that’s easy to install using a standard door installation skills set. It’s less a ‘giant leap’ than the smallest of ‘steps’ to move from one service or product offering to a new one or, potential new markets.

What we saw at the FIT Show is that retail has and is continuing to change. The positive from the last downturn was that a lot of people looked at their businesses and decided to diversify.  

This was in part because they had to but also because they could see how in doing so, they could not only grow but access higher margin opportunities utilising an established skills set.

It’s triggered a cultural and structural change that’s redefining retail installation, driven by the aspirations of consumers.