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Over the last 15 years, Prefix Systems has experienced the rise and fall of the conservatory market. At 94,000 units per annum, the market has fallen somewhat, but Directors Chris Baron and Chris Cooke are adamant that the market is changing and that new opportunities are emerging.

We’re all well aware that the conservatory

market has fallen from the lofty heights of 300,000 units per annum down to 94,000 units, according to the latest statistics from Palmer Market Research. At the peak of the market, it was the relatively generic white conservatory in Victorian, Georgian, Gable and lean-to designs that made up the majority of installations.

Around eight years ago a new generation in conservatory roof glass began to emerge, surprisingly at the same time as the market was beginning to fall. The new glass technology was taking share from polycarbonate as a roof glazing material. From a 20% share in the market, glass now equates to over 50% of all installations and the trend is continuing.

Over the last 7 years as the conservatory

market has fallen, little has been done to re-ignite the sector. Consumers no longer viewed the generic, white PVCu conservatory as an aspirational product, put simply, the honeymoon period was over. The systems companies were relatively slow to react, so at Prefix Systems we started some years ago to expand our own, more diversified offering.

Since 2006 we’ve been offering a number

of foiled options from stock that includes foiled white, rosewood, golden oak, Irish oak, cream, sage green (Chartwell Green), fir green, grey and black foil. We also offer a unique cast iron effect gutter that looks particularly impressive on a white conservatory installed on an older property.

We have also launched our own in-house painting facility, which uses acrylic paints that have been developed from the automotive industry, for lasting performance and can be applied in any internationally accepted RAL colour. This is an important investment for our customers, as consumers continue to look for something more individual. Colours are also highly desired by homeowners

wishing to replace their existing tired conservatories.

The replacement conservatory market is our big focus for 2012 and we’ve launched RefurbishMyConservatory as a comprehensive marketing and lead generation campaign, to address this segment of the market. Palmer Market Research suggests that 16% of all installations are now replacements and we fully expect this percentage to grow. Our own research has shown that there are an estimated 3million conservatories in the UK, of which we believe that there are 500,000 in need of replacement.

Within the new marketing campaign is

a large and consumer focussed website and a wide range of printed and point of sale marketing materials. This will also be supported with more regional campaigns. With our investment in specific products for replacement conservatories, we believe that our customers are far better positioned to secure more sales. This initiative will also represent the largest ever marketing investment by Prefix Systems.

Over the last 12 months we’ve also invested in product development to help re-ignite the sector and to provide solutions for the trade so they can increase their portfolio of conservatory and glazed extension designs. Our new Bi-span system is the industry’s first universal support kit and has been engineered for the vast majority of conservatory roof systems, including Eurocell, Synseal and Ultraframe.

Bi-span is perfectly suited for bi-folding door openings and can be run across one side of the conservatory or the front face. A typical kit provides reduced sightlines, offer identical returns for more uniform aesthetics and eliminates the need for any window frame add-ons. Importantly, it’s also the most cost effective support solution available. The products within the Bi-span system, namely Multibeam and Retro-fix, which were jointly developed with Window Widgets, are also harnessed in our replacement conservatory strategy, which adopts our complete colour range.

Livin Room is the latest product development from Ultraframe, to quite 80 « Clearview NMS « January 2012 «

literally open up a new market sector. The price tag of a traditional orangery for most people is simply prohibitive, but Livin Room is a cross-over product aimed at the masses. It combines the light and airy feel of a conservatory with the walls and ceiling of an extension. As consumers look at new ways of extending their living area, this is another new sales opportunity and may appeal to those homeowners who are looking for something a little more aspirational.

Other new products designed to provide the style conscious homeowner with something a little more different include Pilaster and Cornice. Pilaster is a structurally proven corner post system that’s been designed to take the appearance of a traditional, architectural post and adds an element of period detailing.

The Cornice product shrouds the conservatory gutter and hides the ends of the glazing bars to provide smooth clean lines at the eaves. There are also a number of connectors, so it can be used on a wide variety of styles and is a worthy upgrade option for consumers, looking for a more modern conservatory.

With the changing face of the conservatory

market, installers need to benefit from new products, new initiatives and greater support than ever. With a number of value added products on offer and the emerging replacement conservatory sector now a reality, there’s never been a better time to look at your conservatory sales strategy.

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