Join the fold for a world of opportunity

A number of industry reports have pointed to bi-folding doors and aluminium as two areas that continue to grow, despite tough market conditions. As reported in the September issue of Windows Active, the annual Insight Data Fabricator and Installer report illustrated a rise in PVC-U fabricators incorporating aluminium into their core range. Additionally, D&G Consulting’s 2012 report on composite and PVC-U patio, bi-fold and panel doors, exhibited the growth experienced by the bi-folding door market over the past four years, even taking volume from both sliding patio and French doors.

Of course, much of the industry is already aware of where the opportunities present themselves, but why do these two areas in particular still see such demand?

Don’t move, improve

According to Alan Robinson, director of specialist aluminium door and window fabricator, Alumen, the need to improve rather than move in order to accommodate elderly relatives and children who can’t afford deposits has led to an increase in the use of bi-folding doors in extensions and garden rooms. Aluminium as the material of choice for such projects provides an aesthetically pleasing, light weight material, with good reflective properties. It is also infinitely recyclable – essential for today’s environmentally conscious customer.

Alan comments: “We know this because we’re seeing a massive growth in interest for our aluminium bi-fold and sliding doors, as more and more consumers wake up to the benefits of garden rooms, offices, pods, ‘chill out zones’, granny flats and orangeries. Our aluminium bi-fold doors allow homeowners a more flexible living and working space with a 90% opening to combine indoor and outdoor living. Whether larger country properties, a semi-detached house on a new build estate or a flat in London, the demand for products that allow this combination of space is on the up.”

The company is also in the enviable position of being able to meet their customers’ disparate demands because they supply both Schueco and SMART bi-folding door systems.

SMART Systems are highly popular in the domestic market, and Alumen offers the SMART Visofold 1000 and Visoglide systems; as well as the Schueco range of bi-folding sliding doors – one of only a select number of UK fabricators able to do so. With adjustable jambs and ultra slim sightlines, the Schueco Ass70FD is a great seller. The latest polyamide thermal barrier technology which creates a thermal transmittance barrier between the cold outside and the warm inside is also available on the sliding patio doors.

High end sales

Alan continues: “If you want break into the higher-end of the market, you’ll need to be sure that the aesthetics of the doors you’re buying match the quality of your room, so we have a retail-focused showroom which customers are welcome to visit with their own clients to see the door options for themselves. In addition, thanks to the comprehensive stock we hold in our Kettering facility, we can offer excellent lead times – as little as two weeks in many cases. The colour options include standard RAL colour, textured colours including SMART’s sensation range, with anthracite grey and other popular stock colours available on two week lead time.

For some installers, the back up and technical advice is as essential as the product itself, so they will be pleased to discover that Alumen offer a supply only or complete supply and installation service with full 10-year guarantee through sister company GRP Designs. Concludes Alan: “Our team is always on hand with bespoke advice and technical know-how, including at the planning and design stage. If you are looking for new product ideas, a profitable retail offering and a growing sector that will give your business a boost, why not have a chat with us?”