Revolution to evolution

Distinction Doors pioneered the composite residential door in the UK, something that has turned the market on its head, according to Chantel Roach, Distinction’s sales and marketing director. We have come a long way in that time, with composite doors now a thriving home improvement sub sector in its own right. 

Until little more than 15 years ago composite residential entrance door sales were largely confined to the public sector. Composite doors for private home improvers were expensive and relatively rare in those early days, but local authority specifiers clearly knew something, as they were the key drivers of the product’s development.

Composite entrance doors provided excellent energy efficiency, security and robustness and at a reasonable price. Led by Distinction, greater emphasis was given to the aesthetics of the leaf and the overall quality of the product, and sales began to grow to private sector home improvers.

The potential of the market was immense, which is reflected these days in the enormous number of products on offer with a huge price differential between the highest and lowest quality and specification. And, even with an estimated 1.5 million doorsets installed each year, residential composite door sales continue to grow. And although this has been forecast most recently by Palmer to be relatively modest at 0.9% (Palmer Market Research: The Market for Domestic Entrance Sets in Great Britain 2017) installed values are increasing by as much as 8% per annum.

After leading the sale of composite door blanks in the UK for the past 20 years, there are more than four million Distinction doors installed to date. And the market is well placed to continue growing.

Despite the political upheaval being caused by Brexit, sales of composite doors are standing up well and we believe that the growth will continue. As the largest supplier of composite door blanks in the UK we have invested very heavily to support this belief, to ensure we have enough products, in the right combinations of styles and colours and types, and able to supply customers quickly and reliably from stock.

Distinction has focused significantly on IT automation and systems, such as Business Micros, as well as an £850,000 first phase of infrastructure investment late last year, which was designed to further drive our capacity to handle the extraordinary growth in demand for our prepped door products, as well as logistics for door blanks sold in volume.

With prepped door volumes now increasing, investment has been made on saws, CNCs, edgebanders, painting and related equipment, and ancillaries in anticipation of further growth in demand and to create a margin to contain peaks in demand.

Quality control continues to be important through the introduction of the latest production technology, with a significant reduction in waste and therefore cost.

We are also very keen to encourage the increasingly positive perceptions of composite doors by helping to grow and sustain the market. We do this both directly through proactive partnerships with our customers, with comprehensive support that even includes IT integration – as well as supporting development of the composite door market generally.

For example, the Distinction website includes a door designer that proves very effective at engaging homeowners, following which the customer’s name will be passed to Distinction Door suppliers in their area. When contact between the homeowner and local installer is made, our printed literature will reflect the messages given on the Distinction website with which the homeowner engaged in the first place. It’s a joined-up process.

By working hard at this and looking at the bigger picture, our market share – and that of our customers – will also grow. That is why we continue to market our products all the way through to the end user. From playing our part in revolutionising entrance doors in the UK, we are now very much involved in evolving and growing the market.