Twenty-five years of firsts

Aluk’s managing director Russell Yates casts his eye back a quarter of a century.

Aluk celebrated its 25th anniversary in style at the FIT Show, with a special 1990s themed party for customers and colleagues held on late night Tuesday.

Anyone who saw the social media campaign in the lead up to the show can’t have failed to notice the retro theme of the event, which remembered fondly the days of cassette tapes, floppy disk computers and the hits (and questionable fashion choices) of the Spice Girls.

For Aluk, there is plenty to celebrate of course. A company which started life in 1994 as Beaufort Secure Design with just a single residential aluminium window system is now a £40 million plus turnover business with a huge, market leading product range serving the residential, trade and commercial sectors.

My father Nigel was one of the original shareholders in the business, and a key aspect of Aluk’s success has been its consistent ability to be ‘first’ at things.

Even when we started out on the Elvicta Trading Estate in Crickhowell with just six staff, we knew we were the first aluminium company in the UK to have a window system with a PVC groove in the sash using a PU thermal break.

Since then, Aluk has been: first to develop a double-beaded aluminium window to remove the need for dummy vents on internally glazed windows in 2002; first to achieve a WER A rating for a double glazed aluminium window in 2007; and first to achieve PAS24 on a bifold in 2010.

That desire to constantly push the boundaries in terms of product development continues today and at the FIT Show we showcased our up and coming new Aluk C70S, which we believe is the first aluminium window system in the UK available with pre-inserted gaskets.

There have been a great many changes at Aluk since 1994 of course – not least in terms of the name. Beaufort Secure Design was acquired by the Belgian Blyweert Group in 2009 when it became known as Blyweert Beaufort and then, in 2012, the business was bought again by Luxembourg based Valfidus and rechristened as Aluk (GB).

It had grown steadily in its early years, recording its first £1 million annual turnover in 2003 when we relocated to a 30,000ft2 facility in Newport, and it reached a turnover of almost £13 million in the Blyweert Beaufort days. However, following the acquisition by Valdifus, growth has more than trebled and the new factory in Chepstow dwarfs that earlier Newport facility at a vast 350,000ft2.

Much of the recent growth at Aluk can be attributed to our ability to keep on creating the products that the market wants, from our iconic BSF70 bifold to our new Infinium slider.  But it also comes down to a willingness by Aluk as a group to keep on investing in the business so that we continue to lead the way in everything from service and quality, to training and customer support.

We have never taken our position in this market for granted, hence the substantial investment in 2017 and 2018 in our inline vertical powder coat paint line with fully integrated flash oxidisation pre-treatment plant, which gives us such a critical advantage when it comes to the quality of our finish.

Looking ahead, our focus is on continuing to expand our product range and strengthening the partnerships with our customers which are so integral to our success. The FIT Show demonstrated once again that what this market really values is new products and new opportunities. We are delivering those products for our customers and working alongside them so that they can make the most of the opportunities which they represent.