130 GGP 0416

GGP 04 Apr 2016

I N T H E H O T SEAT Closer to the warm edge GGP talks to John Cooper, Swisspacer’s head of marketing and sales in the UK & Ireland, on the challenges he faces at the leading warm edge manufacturer. GGP: What prompted the move to Swisspacer? JC: I’ve worked in this industry since I left school, over 30 years ago. I started at Alcan, and was asked by a visiting supplier (Cotswold Architectural Products) to go out on the road as a sales representative. I then returned by invitation to Alcan as field sales manager before joining Schuco as an area manager in PVCU. There I progressed through the ranks to be national commercial manager in the residential division, which I also set up. I then moved back to the commercial division as national commercial manager to implement a new venture in the light commercial market. I like to push myself and I held seven different jobs at Schuco, but, as my milestone birthday approached, I needed a fresh challenge. I knew Swisspacer by reputation only and I’ll admit it wasn’t an area of the industry I’d had much dealings with. It was the perfect opportunity for me to broaden my experience. GGP: Has it been more or less challenging than you expected? JC: Definitely more challenging! It’s more difficult than my previous role but I like a challenge! The warm edge market has changed in the past few years. It’s a mature market and in recent years we’ve seen a number of new entrants, making it a lot more competitive. We estimate over 65% of new installations in the UK in 2015 were warm edge, and because of demand for the most energy efficient windows, there is constant product innovation – it’s an exciting industry to be in. GGP: You have a lot of industry experience, working at Schuco for 24 years, but has moving to Swisspacer revealed parts of the industry that you were otherwise unaware of? JC: Yes – and that’s despite being in the industry for most of my adult life. I’m a lot more aware of how glazing products such as spacer bars and sealant improve a window’s overall performance. GGP: You obviously work closely with the Swisspacer team in Europe – is the UK market significantly different to the rest of Europe? JC: There are clear differences between the UK and Ireland and other markets in Europe. On the continent, many customers buy spacer bars directly from Swisspacer. But there are several routes to market in the UK, with distributors and companies supplying a number of different products. The UK is a mature market whereas in other Swisspacer markets, such as those in Eastern Europe, warm edge is still in its infancy but growing very fast. I like to think we have the best of both worlds – the UK team has our own business model, marketing programme and network of contacts, and we are very much centred in the UK, but we are supported by a fantastic head office, R&D centre and three manufacturing plants in mainland Europe. GGP: The EU referendum – are we better in or out? JC: I don’t think anyone has the definitive answer – how can they? Nobody knows the implications of going it alone, and how it would impact on business. But I strongly “We’ve been working on new product innovations, such as Swisspacer Air, which prevents sealed unit breakdown caused by believe being part of a bigger team brings more benefits than being a sole player. GGP: Triple glazing – is it really ever going to get off the ground in the UK or is it destined to be forever a niche product? JC: It is my belief and that of Swisspacer that triple glazing will grow in the UK. Triple is the most effective way of getting the top energy ratings future building regulations will demand. Previously clunky designs have been replaced with sleek, attractive windows, and the likes of the nationals are bringing triple glazing to the mainstream. Across Europe, it’s no longer a niche product: 80% of windows in Nordic countries are triple glazed and it’s reached 60% in Germany. Closer to home in Ireland, triple glazing accounts for 25% of new installations. It’s only a matter of time before we see the same growth in the UK. GGP: Your predecessor, Vic De Costa, retires in May after 29 years at Saint-Gobain and five years at Swisspacer – are you looking forward to taking over the reins fully, and can you see yourself putting in such a good innings? JC: Vic is a hard act to follow and is extremely well-liked and respected in the industry. But yes, I’m looking forward to taking over the reins. Vic has helped extend Swisspacer’s lead as the number one warm edge spacer in the last five years. I’m looking forward to building on this success and growing Swisspacer’s sales even further. Saint-Gobain is a fantastic company to work for and I would like to see myself developing a longterm career at Swisspacer. GGP: The UK industry at large seems to be full of confidence at the moment, despite some uncertainty in global economies and markets, with stories of big investments and lots of big product launches – are you excited about the future at Swisspacer? JC: Most definitely! As you say, the market is growing in confidence and we are very optimistic about the future. We’ve been working on new product innovations, such as Swisspacer Air, which prevents sealed unit breakdown caused by changes in altitude. We have further exciting product developments in the pipeline too – watch this space! 130 www.ggpmag.com April 2016 changes in altitude.” John Cooper


GGP 04 Apr 2016
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