Radiator manufacturer Stelrad celebrates growth in a difficult market
At a recent media event held at Sandown Racecourse in Surrey, Chris Harvey, Head of Marketing for Stelrad, the leading radiator manufacturer in the UK, provided a comprehensive market update for the radiator sector and highlighted several issues that are affecting the heating sector as we head towards the end of 2019.
Radiator sales success for Stelrad
During 2019 the radiator market has reduced every month and up until June 2019, the market was down 7% year on year from the same month in 2018. Steel panel radiator sales were down 8%, LST radiator sales were down 1%, towel rail sales were down 15%, but decorative radiator sales were up 21%.
How has that affected Stelrad over this period? Year on year, Stelrad’s market share is up 2.5% at 50% for all radiators. In June Stelrad’s market share was up to 58%. Steel panel sales were up 11% year on year, giving Stelrad 62% of sales in June. LST sales were up 22% giving Stelrad a 74% share of the market in June and July has seen the best month for LST sales in the company’s history.
Stelrad’s share of the towel rail market is up 2% year on year to around 13% of the market in total but in June this was up to 15%, whilst decorative radiator sales were at 16% year on year in June – a 6% rise in market share for Stelrad.
“What we have is a reducing market currently,” says Chris Harvey, “which we see picking up before the end of the year as new build starts increase across the UK. Brexit is having an effect in the HVAC sector across the board and the radiator marketplace cannot escape the uncertainties that it brings, but whilst it seems to be having a specific effect on the social housing marketplace, replacement radiators market is still buoyant and going well for us as a business. So, we would read into that that most people are staying put and not moving house in the current climate, which you can understand in the context of what is happening politically in the UK.”
How have the new initiatives announced last year been working for Stelrad?
“It’s all been really positive,” confirmed Chris Harvey. “We’ve actually pushed ahead with everything we said we would and twelve months down the line we are beginning to see all of them beginning to deliver. We launched our installer loyalty programme and after an admittedly slow start, we have seen sign up’s increasing month on month. We have continued to invest in our Brand Specialists team with our key ‘face to face’ team members out in the merchants, providing training and support for merchant staff and meeting installers face to face through breakfast meetings and general visits. It’s a back to basics approach, ensuring we are getting to meet the right people on a regular basis to prove we care and want to support these guys and it’s appreciated. We’ve launched our mobile training academy and that has proved popular, taking training to merchant car parks and installer premises up and down the country – this month we’ve completed the Travis Perkins ‘Stelradisation’ process – visiting the last couple of branches we hadn’t made it to in the previous few months and that’s a process we intend to continue into 2020.
“We’ve put investment into our Quotation Team and Customer Service team which has paid huge dividends, with customers gaining confidence in what we do and how we operate for them, building trust with merchants and specifiers – providing a speedy and accurate service that they appreciate. We have between 300,000 and 400,000 radiators in stock at any one time, that ensures we are able to meet orders within 72 hours in all but the smallest number of orders and this too has helped build our reputation still further. On the Customer Service team side of our business, we have joined the Institute of Customer Service and we achieved 89.5% - the highest performance figures they have ever experienced in any sector, which was a feather in our cap.
“We’ve targeted specific niche markets within the overall radiator marketplace – with notable success in particular in the LST marketplace. We’ve upped our emphasis on the niche, through pipeline tracking, via our technical support team, a new CPD, training and increased help from our internal support staff – and the outcome has been hugely successful. As the leading manufacturer in a sector, much is expected of you and we have risen to the challenges this year and our presence in the marketplace has reflected our position as ‘no 1’ in the marketplace.”
In addition, Stelrad has over the past 12 months met a number of other important targets – improving business profitability and increasing its investment in the manufacturing plant and facilities whilst introducing new products regularly during the year.
So, what does the next twelve months hold for the business?
“More of the same,” says Chris Harvey. “We’ll step up to the plate across all the areas we’ve addressed this past twelve months and improve still further. As a market leader it would be simple to rest on our laurels and think we’ve done it all, but there is always so much more we can do to improve our performance and step up the levels of support we offer. And we’ll be keeping our awareness levels high – we’re renewing football and rugby club sponsorships, we’re sponsoring the Heating Installer Awards again next year, we will be launching new products throughout the year with a push in the kitchen and bathroom sectors. We’ve invested in the website and the new version will be available around September time. We’re launching a digital app that will allow installers and specifiers to visualise our products in-situ in a property. We’re stepping up our presence in Ireland – north and south, and our acquisition of Hudevad will be opening even more doors for us over the next twelve months. These are truly exciting times for us and the one thing we will not do is stand still.”
Visit the Stelrad website for more information