Pineapples are Top

Customer satisfaction has never meant so much for Louise and David Howard, customers of Pineapple Systems.

Following the successful installation of their brand new conservatory, part of an extensive renovation project at their beautiful stone cottage in the heart of Lancashire, Louise and David are at pains to praise the hard work and professionalism of Pineapple Systems, conservatory fabricators based in Radcliffe, Manchester.

“This conservatory was central to our extension. As we wanted an open plan area to enhance the feeling of space we opted for a high performance glass roof to provide us with added light as well as ensure we would be able to use the room comfortably throughout the year, rain or shine”. Peter, from Pineapple recommended the use of Celsius Glass, from K2 Conservatories; Louise commented “it certainly did its job well during this winter’s extreme weather”.

Peter added: “We have worked with Celsius for some time now; it is a fantastic product that we would always recommend, for roofs or conservatory glazing. It really does make a difference to how the space can be used”. However the planning of the build does need to take its weight into account. “We were originally tasked with a straight forward supply and installation job, but it quickly became apparent that the specifications prepared for the building did not take into account that weight. Louise and David turned to us for help as their designers did not seem able to resolve the issue.” “To ensure the glazing was of the highest standard we used Darwen based JB Glazing, run by Ian Sumner; they have worked on over 50 projects for us in the last 12 months and have an excellent customer satisfaction record”

Louise finished: “Pineapple Systems did a truly fantastic job. Somehow the original specifications ignored the roof’s weight and we would have ended up with a structure that was unable to support it appropriately. We’d had a conservatory with a polycarbonate roof before and knew that it was no longer for us, both because of the lighting and its lesser insulation capabilities; so we had to ensure that the roof glass was going to go on, safely, no matter what”

And that is exactly what was achieved, to Louise and David’s absolute delight. A combination of a great Celsius product, skill and professionalism means Pineapple Systems are a company to be relied upon.

A clear partnership for Celsius

Celsius glass, from K2 Conservatories, is solid proof that good partnerships bring success. Sharon Owen, National Sales Manager for K2 Glass, and Steve Dakin, Business Development Manager for Ritec, tell us how the partnership between the two companies was a key ingredient to Celsius becoming a market leader.

Increased demand for glass

When Celsius was launched, back in 2003, polycarbonate roofs were present in 80% of all conservatory installations. The market was crying out for direction as existing glass options were extremely limited.

The opportunity was there for a high performance glass to dominate the market; Celsius was going to fill this gap perfectly, offering a unique combination of heat reflection and thermal insulation. Anti glare, UV protection and an easy clean element were to be added to create the ideal product.

Sharon Owen says: “After carefully researching the options available Ritec was identified as the most suitable supplier, with their market leading ClearShield System, which is chemically bonded onto the glass for increased performance”.

Key partner - Ritec

Ritec International, established in 1987, is renowned for its glass surface protection products. With an array of high profile projects under their belt, all of them highlighting the superior quality and performance of their product (Heathrow Airport, Shanghai World Finance Centre, Lloyds of London, to name but a few), it was quickly becoming a product of choice with architects and specifiers. For K2 it was undoubtedly the product to use.

Ritec and K2 developed not only a successful buyer / supplier relationship but also a key partnership that would see the arrival of a leading product that would change the face of the conservatory glass market.

And so Ritec has worked to develop K2 as the key UK applicator of the ClearShield System for conservatory glass, allowing K2 to dominate the high performance glass market with their innovative Celsius product.

Steve Dakin comments: “When K2 approached Ritec it quickly became clear that an opportunity had presented itself for a long-term partnership where we wouldn’t just supply a glass product, but instead work with K2 to help them develop a range of solutions on which they could build a solid and unique brand”. From this came the full range of conservatory glass products including Celsius Blue, Celsius Plus and Celsius Clear - with more innovations to come - all aiming to make conservatories more energy efficient.

Today, hundreds of glass processors and fabricators worldwide have followed suit and enjoy the benefits of the ClearShield System in a wide range of applications, including architectural, decorative, shower, marine and residential glass.

The future

The Conservatory glass roof market now represents 40% of all installations (up from 20% in 2003) and is still growing.

Both K2 and Ritec will continue to work together to develop this market which will only become more demanding as the older generation of conservatories are upgraded with high performance glass roofs.

K2, with its Celsius product range and Ritec’s ClearShield System have played a major part in this transition, and aim to see further developments in the years to come.

In conclusion what makes for a successful partnership?

• Identify a partner that can offer you a complementary service or product which is unique or superior to that already present in your market

• A vision that both companies are prepared to work hard to achieve, trials and errors included

• The identification of a clear benefit for both organisations.

Refresh your conservatory offering

There’s never been a better time to refresh your conservatory offering says K2’s Charles Fox. New roof materials, portal frames and different designs are just some of the elements that installers should add to their portfolio. Charles give’s his top 5 recommendations for 2010...

The conservatory market grew rapidly on the back of relatively standard designs and even some of the PVCu window systems companies got in on the act. However, we are now in a more maturing market and one in which is seeing the emergence of new sales opportunities, which as any salesman will tell you, is great news.

The core conservatory market will always remain, but the challenge is to identify new products and designs which can be integrated into your existing offering. There’s always a group of consumers looking for something a little different and we need to satisfy their needs. It’s also a perfect way of standing out against your competitors and ensuring you don’t just sell on price, but on a little innovation.

1) Aluminium Roof and Other Materials

Aluminium is making a comeback in the conservatory market. While PVCu has taken the lion’s share, people have always liked the look and feel of aluminium for the roofing structure.

Given the nature of the product it also lends itself perfectly for coloured installations and K2’s own aluminium system is proving popular in standard and even in milled finish options. An aluminium roof is also perfectly suited to go with portal framed applications and loved by specifiers.

2) Portal frames

There’s an increased number of large scale conservatory/glazed extension projects both in the commercial sector and at the domestic level as K2’s own architectural division has experienced. With some project management and technical expertise, installation companies can now look at some of the large jobs with increased confidence and the backing of their supplier.

At the domestic level, bi-folding doors are becoming increasingly popular and due to their size require a portal eaves beam. K2 has been able to develop theirs using the existing internal claddings for a more uniform finish.

3) New designs inc Orangeries

Over the past 18 months we’ve seen a shift in conservatory design from Victorian to Edwardian/Gable and even a renaissance in lean-to’s. The latter design is now a far higher specification product than those pre-packed roofs from yesteryear. Consumers are also looking for cleaner lines in their conservatory and there are fewer fanlights installed now, with consumers opting for large top opening windows.

Orangeries are very much in vogue and are more affordable than ever as are individual glazed extensions. There are an increasing number of conservatory installers focusing on a more affluent market sector and have integrated bi-folding doors into many of their installations. Some have even combined timber windows and doors with an aluminium roof.

For many consumers, some of these newer designs may just be in reach in terms of budget and they will add a considerable element of flair to any project. In the past there’s not been much between the top end PVCu conservatories and the bespoke hardwood timber offerings in terms of price and product, until now. The conservatory has moved on from its traditional roots to a more contemporary design.

4) Conservatory Makeover

There are around 2 million conservatories in the UK that are over 5 years old and that means there is an emerging replacement market. Many of the older roofs will have polycarbonate, whilst the side structures may have unwieldy tilt and slide patio doors for example.

Using a little technical expertise and the supporting materials from conservatory systems suppliers, installers can now assess what needs to be done to carry out a conservatory makeover. Either from window and door frames upwards or even just the roof, it is a relatively cost effective option for the consumer.

The added weight of glass will add increased structural loads and may require tie bars, bolster bars and other means of support.

5) Colours

Historically, over 80% of the conservatory market has been white with the addition of a few woodgrain options. However, new technologies in terms of paint application/bonding and the growing demand for powder coated aluminium roofs has seen the emergence of a marked trend towards coloured conservatories.

There are also many more players in the coloured market now which has also been helped by the introduction of new foiled finishes by several of the leading window and door systems companies. Such products are also perfect as part of a conservatory makeover.

Now is a good time to look at these top 5 ways to refresh your conservatory offering, before the conservatory market picks up in typical style in the Spring. It’s also timely to have a look at what your supplier offers you in terms of new products, support and an overall package that’s designed to help your business. Have a great year!