Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

The changing face of conservatories

Synseal’s Mark Schlotel explains how new designs are proving to be invaluable in an evolving marketplace

Mark Schlotel b&wConfronted by another two years of gradual decline forecast by experts Palmer Market Research before the UK conservatory market starts to recover from 2015, Synseal concluded that innovation would be key to remaining competitive and delivering long-term success for retailing customer partners. Underlying market trends are clearly defined. A tendency for consumers to feel ‘uninspired’ by conservatories (Palmer Market Research 2013) is offset by relatively stability in terms of average retail sales project prices. An important market driver is the fact that roof glass now accounts for 65% of installations with polycarbonate declining to 35%, which is a complete reversal of the market positions enjoyed in 2005. There is substantial sales volume potential to replace the many thousands of tired old polycarbonate roofs right across the UK.

Although the Edwardian remains the most popular conservatory design, the number of projects in this style have dramatically halved since the market peak in 2004. The humble lean-to has now usurped the Victorian to become the second most popular style, and volume demand for this budget-end solution has interestingly avoided decline over the last 4 years. Meanwhile, since 2010, orangery-style conservatories have stimulated some welcome new consumer demand.

Following the acquisition of K2 in May 2012, Synseal is now able to service an unrivalled network of professional installers with products to suit all requirements. Notable technical features from both systems have been integrated to provide the most effective solutions – for example, K2’s discreet glass paddle stop and the Synseal wide-spanning bi-fold support are now available options for both conservatory roofing brands.

However, each roof systems’ unique features are what make them highly sought after by their respective customer champions. Global’s single-locking bolt for glazing bars or K2’s adjustable eaves beam connector are popular details that differentiate each system from rival offerings.

Respective brand loyalty remains very strong with more than 3,400 UK-based installers purchasing either Global or K2 roof, with little or no cross-over. Each system retains a strong position in the market, confirming Synseal’s original perceptions of the underlying strength of the K2 brand when acquiring the conservatory roof supplier. As the old saying goes: ‘the Devil is in the detail’… Continually developing product ranges is key to keeping pace with market changes and showing long-term commitment to both the fabricator and installer customer base. With the roof replacement market on the up (there were more than 10,000 refurbishment installs in 2012 on top of 81,600 complete conservatories), installers can now source products from a network of fabricators for each of Synseal’s proven roof systems, significantly increasing potential to win this kind of work.

Global Summer orangeryRecognising Palmer’s findings about homeowners’ jaundiced view of traditional conservatory designs, innovative ‘hybrid orangery’ solutions such as the Global Summer and the K2 Capella seek to bring some welcome inspiration back into the standard conservatory offering. Each is designed specifically to fit either the Global or K2 roof and have shown their ability to please otherwise jaded buyers. This is especially true of homeowners who want the fancy exterior decorative guttering and internal soffits, but who shy away from the sizeable investment involved when installing a fully structural orangery.

At least 8% of the market volume and rising is now commanded by orangery installations. K2’s Orangery Collection has now been championed to become an integral part of the Synseal product range, so both sets of customers can present these aspirational design solutions as part of their portfolio and provide options for homeowners who desire an extension featuring a glass lantern roof.

Training is crucial, so Synseal will be inviting direct purchasing customers and also approved Synseal Registered Installers (SRIs) to attend technical installation workshops to demonstrate our Orangery Collection and explain in detail the key design concepts: a single structural system, which can be adapted to create four highly distinctive styles (Integra, Rio, Venetian and Modena), simple and fast to install, and backed up by the two entry-level market solutions (Global Summer and K2 Capella) for projects where budgets are tight.

Global Glass, a subsidiary business unit located just a short distance from Synseal’s Head Office complex in Huthwaite, produces all insulated glass units for frames whilst all roof glass units, including the premium Celsius performance glass brand, are produced at the plant in Blackburn. Synseal’s combined IGU manufacturing operation has become one of the largest in the UK and is experiencing significant sales growth, as the one-stop shop commercial approach is efficient and helps installers to remain competitive. The ultimate aim is always to deliver a range of fitter-friendly and value-adding solutions to meet the ever-changing demands of our valuable conservatory market.

Tel: 01623 446207