Dedicated to growth
This year, Caribbean Blinds says it is dedicated to business growth. Over the past two years, the Sudbury-based firm expanded its facility, intensified recruitment, and launched the immersive ‘Dream Gardens’ show site. We talk to Stuart Dantzic, managing director, about plans for 2024.
Glass Times (GT): Caribbean Blinds has undergone some extensive projects over the last two years, including the completion of a factory extension at the end of 2022. Can you tell us more about how this has impacted your operational efficiency?
Stuart Dantzic (SD): After a 117% increase in turnover from 2021 to 2023, we decided it was time to expand our facility with a 10,000ft2 factory extension, resulting in a combined floor space of 30,000ft2. The expansion of our factory has been a pivotal move for Caribbean Blinds, enabling us to hold higher levels of stock (£1.5million+ at any one time) and allowing us to meet demand.
With increased storage and production capacity, we’ve been able to cut lead times in half, from four to two weeks. This means we can deliver our products more promptly and aligns with our long-term plans and commitment to contributing positively to the local economy.
GT: Can you elaborate on the company’s recruitment drive and its impact on the local community?
SD: As a UK manufacturer, it’s our prerogative to recruit within our local area and add value to our community – all whilst meeting our growth objectives. Our ongoing recruitment drive is a key element of our long-term strategy to keep pace with the projected growth. The completion of our factory extension marked the initiation of this drive, and we’re proud to have already welcomed so many new members to the Caribbean Blinds family.
GT: Growing your trade installer network has become more of a focus for Caribbean Blinds over the last two years. How have you achieved this?
SD: We made our debut at the 2023 FIT. As the perfect platform to showcase our entire range of external shading systems, our stand allowed installers to see and feel the superior quality and finishing touches of our products first-hand.
We also introduced our latest awning and pergola sales aids, including sample kits. Our louvered roof pergolas attracted the most interest from installers over the course of the three-day event, with a total of 239 installers registering as partners at the show, and 10% investing in sampling there and then.
We thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many installers – so much so that we have signed up to the next FIT Show in 2025.
GT: Caribbean Blinds has experienced remarkable growth, with a £6 million turnover in 2023 and ambitious plans for the future. How has the company adapted to changing consumer behaviours, and what factors do you attribute to this success?
SD: The pandemic was a catalyst for change in consumer attitudes, and it played a significant role in our growth. We adapted by recognising the increased value people placed on their gardens during lockdown. This shift in perception, coupled with our commitment to Sudbury and a locally sourced workforce, has propelled us forward.
We’ve also adjusted our hiring practices, focusing on attitude over skill, and actively engaging with the community.
GT: What inspired you to launch the Dream Gardens show site?
SD: The idea behind our Dream Gardens show site was to offer more than just a showroom – we wanted to create a transformative ‘shopping experience’ for our customers. In recent years, more and more people have started to recognise the importance of outdoor living and are constantly looking for new ways to enhance their outdoor spaces.
We wanted to provide our customers with an immersive experience where they could visualise the potential of their own outdoor space.
GT: The Dream Gardens feature numerous collaborations with premium outdoor living brands. How did these partnerships contribute to the overall success of the project?
SD: Our collaborations were integral to the success of our Dream Gardens. Working with brands like Bridgman, Easigrass, in-lite, Charlie Oven, DeliVita, Primo Grill and Millboard allowed us to create a space that goes beyond just shading solutions. It’s a curated experience that empowers visitors to envision a complete outdoor lifestyle.
GT: Looking ahead, what can we expect to see in the coming year? Are you hosting any more events at the Dream Gardens?
SD: The soft launch of the Dream Gardens was just the beginning. In 2024, we plan to host regular outdoor events at our show site, providing visitors with an ongoing opportunity to experience the epitome of outdoor dining and living.
However, we welcome all visitors to our show site, at any time, as a friendly member of our team is always available to advise and walk you through. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more updates on these events!