Listening to stockists drives growth for FAKRO
Founded in Poland in 1991, FAKRO has become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of roof windows and loft ladders. FAKRO GB’s Commercial Director, Dave Robertson reveals how placing stockists at the heart of what they do has been key to their success.
On building FAKRO GB:
“When we started FAKRO GB 16 years ago, we were literally competing from scratch against one of the construction industry’s best established brands. There was no question that we had to be as good, or better than, the market leaders if we wanted to survive.
We based our offering on quality and innovation, and it’s these two values that have been at the heart of our success ever since. Whether we’re pioneering a new product or delivering a service to stockists, we’re always looking for new ways to give more to our customers.”
On growing the business
“We’ve managed to achieve growth year on year by constantly improving the service and technical support that we provide to stockists, architects, self-builders and roofers, but it’s FAKRO’s people that really make the difference.
We’ve extended our national sales team of Business Development Managers who support our merchant partners, we produce detailed questions and estimates in-house for stockists, a specification team working with architects, we have specially-trained technical engineers who go to site in support of roofers and self-builders, and we also have an internal marketing team to meet the varied needs of stockists throughout the UK.
We also manufacture bespoke products and give detailed design advice so that our customers can get the best fit for their project.
As a result, our stockist network is always growing, and we’ve been able to continue creating more patents for product design than any of our competitors.”
On finding new ways to drive sales to stockists
“We recently re-launched our e-commerce site roofwindows4you.co.uk.
We wanted it to do things differently to a normal online shop, by actively involving stockists, and the revamped site protects demand created for FAKRO products and shows that we are determined to offer brand support in new ways.
All of our online sales incorporate the stockist, directing customers to their nearest Appointed FAKRO Stockist and providing stockists access to sales of products they may not usually stock. It’s easier for the customer, and drives sales to the stockist, so everybody wins.”
On FAKRO’s impact on the UK market
“I think it’s fair to say that before FAKRO came into the UK market, the degree of innovation and product development in the roof window sector was limited.
We introduced products such as the FPP preSelect®, which allows you to change between centre pivot and top hung opening with the flick of a switch, and FTT U8 Thermo, the first quadruple-glazed roof window and still one of the most thermally efficient products on the market. We even received a coveted Red Dot Design Award this year for our DEF U6 flat roof window.
Many other developments, such as semi-automatic vents, better hinge and lock reinforcement, and a greater quality of finishing have also combined to raise the benchmark for our competitors.
We take great pride in achievements like this, which is why we consider ourselves to be the best at what we do.”
On the future of the roof windows market
“I believe that the roof window sector will continue to be a buoyant one. New builds are on the up again and the proportion being built with rooms in the roof is also increasing.
Even when the market was depressed, there was still a healthy number of homeowners who chose to convert their lofts or build extensions, rather than moving to a bigger home.
Most loft conversions now involve far more than just a bedroom with a single roof window either side of the ridge. Self-builders and loft converters are using roof windows as an intrinsic element of design to create light-filled spaces that can, in many cases, totally transform a space. Flat roof windows are also becoming a more popular design innovation.”
“We’re not unduly concerned about the impact that Brexit may have on our business, as we believe that UK house and commercial building will continue to create a healthy market for our products. Loft conversion will also continue to be a popular option, all the more so in towns and cities where the only practical way to expand is up!”
On driving innovation
“Our team of engineers and designers at our dedicated Research and Development centre in Poland is so large that we make a point of taking as many customers as we can to witness it at first hand.
With such a resource FAKRO is able to look at not only new product developments, but the continuous improvement of long-established ones. This is how we have been able to ensure, for example, that U-values, window fabrication, glazing units and product finishing are of such high quality.
We have nearly 80 patents registered and now routinely work with architects and self-builders to look at achieving specific elements of performance for a particular project. We couldn’t do that without such a knowledgeable Research & Development team.”
On future product ranges
“We’re currently working on a new concept called FAKRO Home, and as part of this we’ve developed Z-Wave smart home technology, which we’ve already installed in our electrically operated windows.
The technology allows windows and blinds to be operated by smartphone, tablet, or any other compatible appliances, and it’s evolutions like these which are putting FAKRO on a par with some of the world’s leading manufacturers such as Apple, Panasonic and Intel. It’s certainly fair to say that I’m very excited about what the future holds for FAKRO and our customers.”
If you’d like to check out FAKRO’s recently revamped e-commerce site, just visit www.RoofWindows4You.co.uk