The importance of innovation

Ultraframe’s ambition is to be the only roof system manufacturer than can build an entire extension. At this year’s FIT Show, the company said that ambition became a reality with the launch of UltraSky Roof, an aluminium orangery roof system, which builds on the success of the launch of the lantern system UltraSky at the 2016 Show. Alex Hewitt, Ultraframe’s marketing director, explains why there will never be an end to innovation in the extension space.

Component by component, Ultraframe has now got all the parts of a fully kitted extension system. Unlike a traditional build that requires many and varied tradesmen, including the ‘hard to come by’ bricklayer, a retailer can now offer every conceivable build from a simple classic conservatory right through to a solid roof extension by using Ultraframe’s Loggia columns.

With the addition of the UltraSky Roof, retailers can now even offer an elegant, contemporary orangery at a fraction of the price of a traditional build. Integrating this with UltraSpan, a hidden structural ‘goal post’, bifolds can be easily designed into the build without clunky reinforcement separating the roof from the large span of doors.

Twelve months ago, we reported that Ultraframe was on an innovation mission to get to the point of offering an entire range of extension choices.

We’re constantly talking to retailers and installers about their experience in the market. Similarly, we spend a great deal of time capturing feedback from homeowners about their home extension wishes. Our job is to stitch all that feedback together, and it’s that process that guides our R&D.

UltraSky Roof is a classic illustration of that point. When we originally set out our ambition to redefine the conservatory industry, we made a commitment to design a range of roofs and components that would allow a retailer to walk into any home and be able to offer an extension system from Ultraframe regardless of whether the homeowner is looking for glazed, hybrid or a solid, tiled roof. We’ve got all the boxes ticked.

UltraSky Roof was developed after we exhibited our dual-finish lantern UltraSky at last year’s FIT Show when our customers told us how much they loved the ‘less bars, more sky’. It’s through those conversations that we realised there was a gap in the market for a cost-effective orangery roof system.

Using all the inherent strength properties of UltraSky, we’ve been able to develop an orangery roof system that can achieve spans of up to 8m by 5.5m, still allowing the retailer to offer traditional brick piers, or more contemporary Loggia columns. Either way, the opportunity to ‘bespoke’ the design stays true to our desire to offer complete design flexibility.

In truth, our innovation programme will never stop. But we don’t just view innovation as a roof and component thing. Exhibitors to our stand at FIT will have seen our partnership with Which? Trusted Traders – their endorsement of our Ultra Installer scheme is a first for the glass and glazing industry and sends out a clear message to homeowners about the professional integrity of an Ultra Installer. This partnership adds a further layer of assessment that focuses on customer care, professional conduct, and so on. It’s a powerful partnership and one that gives an Ultra Installer even greater local brand integrity.

We’ve got a short reprieve now from FIT planning in 2019, and I for one am excited about getting the Which? Trusted Trader alliance into the market and securing new Ultra Installers in certain parts of the UK.

Day to day, I always look forward to our regular innovation meetings with my colleagues in R&D; I love the speed of change and their capability to make things happen. It’s an exciting time to be in this industry – watch this space for the next chapter in our extension story.