Radically restructured in 2017 to give our management team more flexibility to develop our product offer, Sliders UK is making specialism count
Commenting on its Management Buy Out in April 2017, Sliders UK Chairman, Ian Longbottom, said that the door specialist had to be ‘confident’about its future, citing the continuing development of its product offer as ‘key to Sliders UK’s future growth’.
Then speaking less than a year since the EU referendum and with the value of sterling showing little sign of recovery from the 31-year-low that it slumped to immediately post referendum result, ‘confidence’ was something in short supply in the economy at large.
This decision, however, was vindicated. Completed that month, the management buy-out saw the Sliders UK chairman and Sales Director, Steve Mines continue in post, joined by Managing Director, Alex Murphy and Finance Director, Jonathan Foxcroft to form a new senior management team.
“The restructure was designed to allow us to invest in offer for the long-term, putting in the funding and infrastructure to improve product offer but just as importantly, service levels. We realized that to move the business forward we had to invest and that this needed to be planned for”, says Steve Mines.
Two-years into its journey Sliders UK has invested significantly in its product and service offer. “The business is owned by the management team. We’re not working to pay back venture capitalists or the bank”, continues Mines.
“We’re also very clear about where we sit in the market. We aren’t and won’t be a mainstream fabricator. We’re a door and aluminium specialist. This is reflected in our product offer and the continuing investment that we’re making in it.”
It’s development of the Ultimate Evolution aluminium bi-folding door has played an instrumental part in is success. This features a highly innovative fully adjustable jamb option, which fitted to both sides of the door, makes squaring and setting faster – cutting installation time to as little as 45 minutes.
This means that it now accounts for sales of more than 100 frames per week. Alongside it’s pre-existing BSF70 aluminium bi-fold offer from ALUK and the addition of the BSC94 aluminium sliding door, it gives Sliders UK a flexible and highly competitive aluminium offer.
“Aluminium has been key for us and will continue to be going forward”, says Mines. “We’ve developed a strong portfolio of aluminium products and a growing reputation in aluminum supply and will look to extend that further this year.”
Added to its offer last year, the BSC94 is a new generation inline sliding door. PAS 24 and Part Q approved, it accommodates door heights of up to3000mm and maximum weights per panel of 400kg.
It’s also supplied by Sliders UK in a mono, dual or tri-rail option, offering the end-user a high degree of design flexibility.
The BSC94’s major selling point, however, is an ultra slim sightline 45mm interlock option, this minimises vertical sightlines, something which Mines suggests allows retailers to offer and pitch it as an alternative to aluminium bi-folds.
“The aluminium market is evolving and inline sliding patios are taking a growing share of it”, he says.
With a 10,000 sq ft extension of its factory completed in 2017, Sliders UK has delivered corresponding investment in its infrastructure. This has included the creation of a dedicated composite door line, the foundation for the door specialists’ 2018 relaunch of its composite door offer.
PAS24 and Part Q approved, this uses ‘intelligent timber’ inserts encased inside a foam core and durable GRP skin, to provide additional core strength without impacting on thermal efficiency.
This system is also highly resistant to warping, bowing and twisting, which means that the Ultimate Composite Door is supplied with an industry leading bowing tolerance of just 3mm – something guaranteed by Sliders UK.
It’s also invested in its service offer launching a new composite door spray facility last summer increasing flexibility of finish and shortening lead times on special order composite door colours.
The purpose built facility, giving the door specialist the flexibility to offer composite doors in any RAL colour, in addition to the choice of 34 different through-colour options available within its standard and premium ranges.
Sliders UK also introduced a second shift last year, boosting its overall manufacturing capacity by 60%. The new night shift creates new manufacturing capacity on the specialist fabricator’s aluminium bi-folding, French and sliding door lines, plus its composite door line.
“Product development has been a key element of our growth strategy. We’ve added a number of products to our range, which deliver a series of distinct advantages to our customers, including installation efficiencies, commercial opportunities and far better through-life performance”, says Mines.
“We’ve also been very conscious that growth needs to be sustainable. There’s no point us offering new products if the quality isn’t there or they don’t arrive on time.”
“The expansion of our offer is being delivered as part of an over-arching strategy that includes corresponding investment in our infrastructure, which has so far included the expansion of our facility and the launch of a second shift. We’ll continue that investment as we move forward.”
Included a six-figure spend on the expansion of its fleet, at the end of last year. Increasing flexibility within its delivery schedule and improving service to its customers, Sliders UK took receipt of two new 18-tonne lorries and one 7.5-tonne wagon.
Powered by Euro 6 low emission engines, all three have been specified with a slightly higher trailer to accommodate more and larger products, while they also feature a full enclosure tail lift, making handling and unloading at site easier.
“Aluminum is driving specification of larger products and that has implications for the supply chain. You have to get to site and then be able to handle it. The 18-tonne trucks have been designed to accommodate transport of bigger units.
“The addition of the 7.5 tonne truck improves our capability to deliver to sites with restricted access and weight limits. We’re working to bring new flexibility to door supply.”
It’s new product offer and increased manufacturing capacity and distribution, combined to deliver record year-on-year growth of as much as 45%, with average weekly increase in sales of 33% last year.
“We’ve continued to see strong growth this year. Forecasts are a little more difficult to make given the continuing uncertainty that surrounds Brexit and the wider economy.
“Our focus, however, is on the long term. The continuing popularity of aluminium, plus the product developments that we are planning for the future gives us and our customers a genuine foundation for confidence.”
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