044 RCI 0417

RCI April 2017

CLADDING & SHEETING high level of quality and achieve a perfect installation. Our customers now, quite rightly, expect to have close working relationships with Sto. Those relationships have often been built over many years, and they allow us to provide guidance and help customers manage every project, right through from design to application. They are vital in helping to ensure that the finished façade or interior is up to the standard that both we and our customers expect. The market: We’ve heard a lot about material price increases and supply issues in many sectors of construction following the drop in value of the sterling. How, if at all, has this impacted the markets you operate in and what impact, if any, has this had on your customers? Naturally, we are not immune from foreign exchange rate fluctuations – they are a part of the business world and over 90% of our products come into the UK from Europe. However, we work very closely with our parent company in Germany – and with our local customers – to anticipate any changes where possible. That allows us to manage price increases and decreases, and to ensure that projects within the supply chain remain competitive and viable for all parties. Throughout 2016 and with the fluctuations caused by Brexit, we have managed to maintain supply at 100% and have placed no additional price pressure on our customers. You offer a range of acoustic solutions – are acoustic considerations now getting the attention they deserve on projects? No, not at the very high performance levels. The UK is very traditional and often opts for the same old acoustic grid systems. However, this is beginning to change, and we’re seeing increasing numbers of architects and building owners who will no longer stand for these old fashioned and rather dated systems. They are now looking for high performance 044 APRIL 2017 RCIMAG.COM “The UK is very traditional and often opts for the same old acoustic grid systems. However, this is beginning to change, and we’re seeing increasing numbers of architects and building owners who will no longer stand for these old fashioned and rather dated systems” acoustic systems that can offer outstanding performance, create a seamless and stunning appearance and still accommodate integrated lighting, air conditioning and HVAC equipment. This is undoubtedly a growth area for Sto, and we are working hard to develop the market’s mindsets and attitudes so that customers make the most of the tremendous design flexibility that our systems offer. The Government’s key energy efficiency initiatives have come in for some criticism in recent years but we’ve recently had the Government’s response to the ECO Help to Heat Consultation and The Green Deal has moved into private ownership. What were your thoughts on the ECO consultation and do you think the Government is doing enough to support the energy efficiency sector and homeowners? If not, what needs to be done? In the last ten years, the government has tried many schemes to increase energy efficiency for UK homeowners, and with varying degrees of success. The more recent schemes such as ECO, GD and GDHIF were unsuccessful because the government and the energy market didn’t understand the technical complexity of the insulation and façade measures that are needed, or the true cost of bringing them to market. There is still a huge energy efficiency job to do in the UK to improve the 7million solid wall homes that suffer from a lack of insulation. I do know though that trade associations such as the Insulated Render and Cladding Association (INCA) and the National Insulation Association (NIA) are working hard with the government to support the design of new funding initiatives that will bring higher quality solutions to those that need them most. The future: How big an impact will our exit from the EU have on construction? That is the million-dollar question that none of us can answer accurately. However, we have a stable economy, a dedicated and skilled workforce and a population with a desire to live in their own homes and see their country prosper. I’d like to think that this gives us the fundamental ingredients to weather any short-term fluctuations in confidence, and I hope we’ll continue to see construction as a key industry for our country and a significant contributor to our Gross Domestic Product performance. As a German-owned company operating in the UK, how is Sto preparing for life after article 50 has been activated (it was triggered on March 29th) and what would your advice to your customers be? We can’t fully predict the impact of triggering Article 50 and we can do little about it at the moment, but my advice is definitely that we’re doing ‘business as usual’. Whatever the implications are, we will continue to do as we have done all along, keeping close to our customers, supplying them with high quality systems from Europe, and briefing them on any change as soon as possible. We must remember that our European colleagues are as keen to continue supplying the UK as we are to continue taking their systems. What do you feel the Government needs to do to support the construction sector going forward? There is a lot the government can do, but investing in training is crucial. That is the way to ensure that we have a sustainable industry, that we continue to produce innovative building designs and product technologies, and that we lead the way globally with fully tested systems and solutions. The new apprentice schemes are a small step forward, but we have a history of producing the best architects, engineers and construction professionals in the world and we should be proud to maintain that. If we want to achieve that we must continue to invest in training across the construction spectrum, right from design through to installation. What can customers expect from Sto in 2017? We are investing hugely in our direct customer service and we have a UK salesforce that has been structured to deliver the necessary skills and competences to all the different parts of the supply chain. We are also investing in our Technical Services Department and our Customer Service Team, as we feel that being close to our customers is essential to our future growth. The feedback from our customers shows that they agree with us! www.sto.co.uk “We can’t fully predict the impact of triggering Article 50 and we can do little about it at the moment, but my advice is definitely that we’re doing ‘business as usual’” Some 600m² of StoVentec glass system was used to clad the first floor of the new Pavilions Teignmouth building in Devon


RCI April 2017
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