An Alternative Approach?

Liniar fabricator Alternative Windows is one of the largest window and door manufacturers and suppliers in the North of England, with a turnover of over £7 million, 70 staff at its Leeds headquarters and 12 teams of fitters.

Founded in 1988 by Directors Nigel Fletcher and Darren Barraclough and initially focusing on the trade and retail markets, the company has seen a marked shift in the split of its work over recent years – with commercial work now reaching around 70% of its overall revenue. Since emerging from the recession, the new build and social housing markets have been reinvigorated, with Alternative Windows ideally placed to fulfil a large proportion of the new contracts out for tender.

Sales Director Darren Pratt, who’s been with Alternative for 21 years, explains why their approach is so successful.

“We took the decision a long time ago not to try to compete on price,” says Darren, “which means we do lose out on some jobs. But it’s clear to us that when it comes to choosing new windows and doors, price isn’t always the prime factor; local developers are looking for thermal efficiency, lead-free profiles and faster supply and installation, all of which is deliverable with the Liniar system.”

“It’s also about developing relationships,” Darren continues. “Over the years we’ve been able to get involved with local councils, architects and property developers to the extent that now they know our product range and how we work, getting through the tender process is that bit smoother.”

“The interesting thing is that we’ve recently picked up a couple of jobs that we lost out on as we weren’t the cheapest. We’d written them off, but the developer has now come back to us to finish the jobs as they’ve had problems with the supplier they originally chose… after all, you get what you pay for!”

The Leeds City Centre regeneration PFI project spans 7 blocks of high-rise apartments totalling 550 dwellings, together with almost 1,500 low-rise and new build houses. The project is being managed by developer Keepmoat, who’ve allocated the supply of windows and doors to Alternative.

The lead-free and energy efficient aspects of the Liniar profile were important to us in creating a sustainable development.Sean Corcoran, Regional Director, Keepmoat

Worth around £5 million to Alternative over two years, the project commenced in December 2013 and is set to be completed in late 2015. Darren goes on to describe the reasons the Liniar system is ideal for large-scale projects such as these:

“The Liniar system goes through the factory much faster than other systems, so it’s more cost effective for us to manufacture. It’s also much easier to achieve an ‘A’ rated window, as we have to do less to it than we would with a different system, such as enhanced (and more expensive) glazing. Our installers also love fitting Liniar as it’s been designed to be fitter-friendly – so they’re on site for less time overall, which helps with project completion deadlines.”

Sean Corcoran, Regional Director at Keepmoat, commented:

“The Leeds PFI is a major scheme for both ourselves and our client. We are responsible for all designs on the project covering high rise new build and refurbishment, sheltered accommodation, new build housing and the refurbishment of varying types of non-traditional housing.

Combining the requirements of high standards and tight timescales has meant ensuring our sub-contractors have the resource and technical expertise required.

Our decision to work with Alternative Windows is based on the many previous schemes they have completed for us combined with their ability to service the requirements of all stages through the construction process including design, pricing, programming, technical expertise and possibly most importantly, having the resource and expertise to install high volumes of frames to a fast tract programme that covers a vast array of differing archetypes.

Now 16 months into a 3 year programme, all targets have been achieved and we look forward to completing this and other schemes with Alternative Windows in the coming years.”

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