Picture Above: The foiling hall with six lines
Glass News Editor, Chris Champion, joins trade editors for a visit to Deceuninck UK’s HQ.
It really feels as if we’re moving into a new era and away from that time of being locked away with communications limited to ‘phones, emails, Zoom and Teams. Being wrested from my northern hovel and despatched to fight with everyone else for tarmac space on these pot holed monstrosities we call roads, was probably the best thing that could have happened, and an invitation to join other trade editors at Deceuninck’s UK base at Calne in Wiltshire was a great re-introduction to work-associated social life.
Having visited Deceuninck on a number of occasions I wasn’t really expecting any great change save for what I expected to be a warehouse decimated by demand from their fabricator customers. Was I wrong! The vast warehouse was stocked to the gunnels. As MD Rob McGlennon pointed out, we have had three lockdowns, a home improvement boom and a supply chain that has come under tremendous pressure, so how has Deceuninck managed?
The answer is relatively simple. It has been business as usual, albeit following Covid-19 guidelines, and Deceuninck has concentrated on providing its usual exemplary service. They are all about people and relationships and keeping in touch with their customers so there are no nasty surprises. Rob and his team are always very open in their discussions with either customers or the trade press. They tell it as is. Will the wheels come off this current home improvement boom? Certainly not yet, they say. Forecasts are buoyant through to the end of the year even though there will be pressure on the availability of PVC-U through into 2022. Steel prices will remain high and glass supply will continue to be disrupted plus, of course, the cost of containers continues to rise. Amazingly, with all these issues, Deceuninck has maintained a service to their customers. With a normal OTIF of 97% a drop from that high must be expected but to still have an OTIF at 90% is a significant achievement.
Rob McGlennon has a smile on his face when he declares first half turnover in excess of £25m. This is a first for Deceuninck in the UK and Rob fully expects to hit a record £50m plus turnover for the full year. What has made him smile is how that has been done under the current circumstances. Although new business wins play their part the real key is customer growth and that is very satisfying for Deceuninck.
One might expect a system house having a jump in sales in the current boom but this is not a one off. Looking right back to 2013 when the turnover was in the £12m to £13m, the growth has been pretty steady with a nicely curved parabella with the 2021 increase replacing the very slight slowing in 2020 with a fair amount to spare!
It can’t be just good service and relationships that has made this happen, surely? Rob is quick to point out that colour has been the driving force behind the growth. The fact that there are 30 colourways in stock – and yes, there are and we’ve seen them – and another 20 colours can be ordered on a 15 day lead time results in Deceuninck customers selling twice as much colour as their competitors. Colour accounts for 60% of all Deceuninck sales. However, for me, it isn’t just the fact that all these colours are available, it’s that they can be ordered from stock.
We reported recently on a YouGov survey Deceuninck commissioned and this clearly showed the importance colour has in the decision making of the homeowner. In short, 75% of homeowners said that colour was an important part of the decision making while 96% said that matching to the look of the property was key. I could go through the full survey but suffice it to say that colour choices vary by age group, and price is less important to the elderly than the young. No great surprise there but where the surprise came is in the regional splits in popularity of colours and woodgrains – very useful information for Deceuninck customers. No surprise to anyone: flush is the look 62% are looking for.
With all this information and with their own in-house research it’s not surprising that Deceuninck continue to invest for the future. Q4 in 2020 saw increased foiling capacity added as part of a £multi million investment in both extrusion and lamination capability. New combi-lift slide loaders were added to the warehouse armoury and all this was aimed at providing capacity for a number of customer acquisitions that were coming on stream.
Sustainability and recycling have become watchwords and with a 15 million euro investment Deceuninck now has the capability to process 45,000 tonnes of PVC-U per annum. This goes a long way to answering the questions over pollution from plastics and the company’s profile contains up to 50% of recycled material. Cleverly, the profile is manufactured using leading edge co-extrusion technologies, which isolate recycled content in areas away from the surface of the product, guaranteeing finish and performance. Importantly this means that Deceuninck prevents 3 million frames going to landfill, annually, reduces carbon emissions by 90,000 tonnes and saves 90% of energy normally used.
While there has been investment over the past year there has also been product development, too. On the stocks are a triple-track patio solution, a mechanical jointing solution for flush windows and doors and a dedicated outerframe for composite doors. All valuable additions to Deceuninck’s range but it is also important to remember that the company has moved into aluminium, too. Decalu is fast getting a substantial following as installers report back to fabricators about how easy they are to fit. What is interesting is how both sides of Deceuninck fuel each other: PVC-U customers who are looking at adding aluminium to their offering naturally look to Deceuninck but it also works in reverse with a number of aluminium customers seeing that the PVC-U range is worth offering as well.
What is very clear is that the whole team at Deceuninck are customer focussed and understand that relationships are just as key as great products, choice, and stock available from the warehouse. And that’s not forgetting the colour choice, something that puts Deceuninck at the front when choosing a system house. Did I mention that Deceuninck hasn’t lost a customer in four years? Well, it’s a fact….
The ability to foil a wide range of shapes
Just one aisle in the warehouse
Co-extruding on the line
Decalu’s Nigel Headford shows the aluminium range
Deceuninck MD, Rob McGlennon
Foiling in action
Foils in every colour and size
Just one of the many tests, in this case testing the adhesion of the foil
Part of the extrusion hall
Picking in the vast warehouse
Profile comes off the line
Small components are foiled by hand