S POT L IGHT
Consumer expectation of service is
changing. In short, we all expect
more. More choice in product offer,
more flexibility in service; and more
and better communication. That is, according to
commentators, driving a radical shift within the
window and door supply chain as a whole – and
not everyone, including fabricators, are going to
“Companies Like Amazon, Apple – they’ re
changing what we expect from retailers,” says
Liam Hulme, joint-MD of Global Windows in
Sheffield. “It may sound very different. Something
that doesn’t affect us. But it does, and we have to
change with it.”
This shift is impacting the whole supply chain,
he argues, or at the very least is about to. “To
meet customer expectation in retail you need
your supply chain to change, to offer increased
flexibility,” Liam says.
“Fabrication wasn’t working for us anymore.
We were buying in bi-folds, we were buying in VS’,
but we were holding on to own-manufacture of
casements when it didn’t make sense to.
“We didn’t get the service we needed to meet
the demands our own customers were placing on
us, we weren’t getting the reliability in supply. The
cost of foils was too high because we weren’t doing
volume in individual colours,” Liam says.
“We were a small player without real influence
on our supply chain. We were let down by our
systems suppliers and that impacted on the levels
of service that we in turn were able to offer our own
customers. The model wasn’t working.”
The Global Windows brand was founded in
by Liam’s father, Russell with Liam becoming
a director in . “As a second generation in
a business, you’re always open to the charge
that you’ve inherited something, that you don’t
understand the business. Trust me, I’ve worked
in every role in this business – and I could see we
needed to change,” he said.
That process took three-years. Russell had
stopped fabrication once already in but had
encountered supply issues when buying in. “It
wasn’t a good experience…,” explains Liam.
This meant that, second time around, Global
was particularly rigorous in the appointment of its
new supply partner. “There are a number of big
fabricators and they have impressive set ups but
Emplas had more.
“It had online ordering, it had EVA, the support,
the D factory tour, videos, marketing material
but there was also a cultural fit. They are a family
owned business, run by the second generation of
the family but still with a level of influence from
“The team there are in their mid-thirties or
forties. They’re taking a longer-term approach,
they’re not looking to get out in five-years.”
Liam has also been impressed by
communication within the business. “We have our
own-branded tape. It wasn’t coming off cleanly
but in strips, so we raised it with customer service.
A couple of days later we had a meeting with Jody
Vincent, the national sales manager, Emplas and
he was able to explain what had gone wrong and
that Emplas had corrected it.”
In fact, own-branded tape was another reason
that Global opted for Emplas, Liam arguing that it
supported it in retaining its identity after stopping
fabrication. “I don’t think consumers necessarily
care if you’re manufacturing your own window,”
“The quality of the installation, your reputation,
your focus on service, are far more important and
that’s what stopping fabrication has allowed us to
bring new focus to.”
This is a key element of Global’s strategy.
Although its focus had been on fabrication for
its own retail business, it had also developed
a smaller trade supply operation. Increased
competition from other trade fabricators, plus the
impact of trade supply on its own retail business,
driving the company’s change in approach.
“For consumers it’s confusing. ‘Why does it cost
us ‘X’ amount more to buy a door or window from
you, when I can get it for ‘X’ amount less if I get my
builder to buy it’,” Liam explains.
“You’d get into this explanation, ‘Do you
want your windows to be fitted by a FENSA
or CERTASS registered installer, do you want
someone who’s going to underwrite your
guarantee? Or do you want someone who’s going
to be long since out the door by the time you
realise your bi-fold wasn’t installed properly?”
Stopping fabrication has also meant that
Global has been able to re-purpose its 6m2
former factory floor as warehousing and a new
showroom, while its former shop-floor workforce,
has been reallocated to seven installation teams.
“It’s been an opportunity for people,” Liam
continues, “to get off the factory floor and work
with people to learn new skills. The advantage for
us as a business is that they also have the skills
having manufactured windows and doors to fix
or adjust things like hardware on site. That also
makes our service to the customer better.
“Ultimately, we want to be in a position where
our competitors are playing catch up with us and
where we are setting the standards for service
- not the other way around,” concluded Liam.
“That’s what our decision to stop fabrication has
been about. To focus on what we do, which is retail
and bring a better service to our customers.”
GGP Magazine talks to Global Window’s joint MD, Liam Hulme, about
the advantage it has gained by stopping fabrication, and buying in product