Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2022

Steve Winslet, Managing Director of Victorian Sliders

Facts and Figures:

First job: I started as Pioneer Concrete’s youngest trainee Plant Manager in London. Following several promotions, I was appointed to manage the Byfleet Plant, one of their biggest sites in London. 

Favourite gadget: I’m not massively into technology, however, like most people, my phone is never out of arm’s reach as I like to be as contactable as possible.  

Favourite website: As someone who spends a lot of my week on the road, Google Maps is fantastic for helping me plan journeys. 

Favourite restaurant: It’d have to be Darwin Brasserie, on the 36th floor of 20 Fenchurch Street in London, the skyscraper known as ‘The Walkie-Talkie’. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and the views there are amazing. 

Business person you admire: Harry Cremers was the Managing Director of EcoTherm Group. I worked for him as part of the European Management Team whilst I was MD of EcoTherm UK. I admire him for both his personal and professional skill sets and learnt an enormous amount from him in leadership, strategy and business management in my first role as an MD. We stopped working together in 2009 but I still talk to him to this day despite him living in The Netherlands.

What lesson have you learnt about business in the last 12 months: The world has obviously evolved greatly since the pandemic began. Organisations have had to become more flexible, innovative and people and customer centric. In times like these, you need to go back to the basic fundamentals of business leadership and management and make sure you’re doing them very, very well. Customers, suppliers, colleagues and costs are vital to a business’ performance; get close to all of them!

Best business decision: It seems tongue in cheek, but taking the huge opportunity that exists here at Victorian Sliders has been brilliant. It has meant a slight lifestyle change, however, the enjoyment of working with the team here and the opportunity to add value is worth it.  The potential for organisational performance and growth is absolutely phenomenal. Commercially, operationally, financially and culturally, I believe I can add value at every level; ultimately, for the benefit of our customers.

Other interests: I am passionate about the outdoors; sport, walking, cycling and skiing with my partner and kids take up the majority of my spare time. I am involved in rugby and cricket as well as being a fair-weather golfer. My partner, son and daughter are all very sporty so we get to enjoy all of the above together.

Working location: Typically, I spend the majority of the week at HQ, however, I balance that with meetings at or near the various depots around the country.

Working Day:

I typically find myself at HQ in Ammanford, Wales at least three days a week. However, with distribution and sales depots in Weston-super-Mare, Harlow, Warrington, Scotland and Ireland, I also arrange meetings there so that I am able to maintain communications and visibility with the regional teams.


Last year, I was appointed Group Managing Director of Victorian Sliders to help lead the business into the next phase of its phenomenal journey. 

Scot Starkey, the company’s founder and CEO, has done an incredible job developing the business to the scale it is at the moment. 

Scot will always have a major input at Victorian Sliders – but with the £14m investment the company received last year as BGF acquired a 31% stake, I was brought in to take responsibility for the Group’s day-to-day management. 

That investment was a huge vote of confidence in Victorian Sliders. BGF are one of the UK’s most respected independent investment companies, with a balance sheet of more than £2.5bn. Scot and myself retain day-to-day control of Victorian Sliders, but Edwin Davies (BGF) and Mark Huxtable (Chairman) have joined the board.

At the moment, we’re still in the handover period – but eventually, whilst Scot will focus on specific projects, I’ll be focusing on delivering an improved business performance to all of the company stakeholders.

The business foundations that Scot’s laid already are incredibly solid. The infrastructure we have at Victorian Sliders is unlike anything you’ll find at any of our key competitors.  

By investing to extrude our own profile, manufacturing our own hardware, making our own glass units and more, we’ve become the UK’s most vertically integrated window manufacturer. 

Huge opportunities

However, the opportunities for further improvements are huge, too. Victorian Sliders has undergone tremendous growth in the last year – we’re 35% bigger than we were this time in 2021. As the business grows, we need to ensure that the business processes, procedures, plans and people also improve in order to support and further grow the organisation. We are in a very different world than we were two years ago. Since the pandemic, organisations have had to become much more flexible and innovative to succeed. 

Whilst focusing on performance and costs, we must always remember we are here to service our customers and I firmly believe in a customer-centric approach. 

I think that 2022 will be very strong for fenestration, and building products more generally.  Even with the severe supply chain disruption that’s hampered the sector over the last year, the Construction Products Association is predicting that construction will grow 4.3% in the 12 months ahead. 

Some of that is expected to be through major infrastructure projects that don’t directly involve fenestration, like the ongoing construction of the third reactor at Hinkley Point power station. 

However, we know very well that projects like these indirectly stimulate other parts of the sector, by encouraging the construction of houses for workers for example. It is expected that the house-building sector remains buoyant, even if some supply issues persist, and rising prices see consumer spending slow down somewhat.  For companies like Victorian Sliders, the opportunities remain huge. We’ve all seen how the home improvement market has changed over the last 20 years.  

Once, products like windows and doors were viewed in very practical terms. Sometimes you’d find people replacing them for aesthetic reasons, but in many cases, they were a distress purchase.  You bought new ones when the existing ones started to fail – and when you did, your overriding priority was almost always the price.  From the early 2000s, that started to change. Suddenly, shows like Grand Designs, Changing Rooms, Ground Force and others were shifting the culture, and creating demand for products that were much more aesthetically pleasing.  The reason that put vertical-sliding sash windows in such a strong position is that over a third of Britain’s housing stock had been specifically designed to feature them. Millions of UK homes were built in the era when sash windows were the norm – but in the decades since, many have had those windows replaced with PVC-U casements. 

Sash windows today

It’s for that reason that sash windows today only make up about 6% of the overall window market. 

However, that drive for more aesthetic fenestration products – combined with the owners of homes originally installed with sash windows seeking to restore them – has created a booming market for the kind of cost-effective, energy-efficient, installer-friendly sash windows Victorian Sliders can provide. 

Essential to the success of Victorian Sliders is to change the perception of sash windows. To all specifiers, installers and users of windows, the supply and installation of sash windows is far more simple, easy and convenient than many people imagine. 

Traditionally, many casement installers have shied away from the opportunities that exist in the sash window market – largely because of an outdated perception that the products are hard to install. When it comes to 21st century sash window products like ECOSlide, that couldn’t be further from the truth. They are simple to install, require extremely little maintenance once fitted, and therefore provide a fantastic alternative to other window styles.

I’m confident that in the decade ahead, we’ll continue to see demand for sash windows soar – and at Victorian Sliders, we’ll be striving to meet that demand with the best products on the market.

Tel: 01269 846200