When the forerunner of Distinction Doors introduced the very first composite door panels to the UK just over 20 years ago even those with the vision to introduce such products could not have predicted just how successful they would be. Not only did composite residential doors change the home improvement landscape, but a sector was created that continues, often against the run of the replacement window sector generally, to return sales increases year-on-year.
For Distinction Doors of course, being the holders of such a legacy is not regarded as enough alone to guarantee continued success. And as the sector’s largest supplier, with around one in four composite doors installed in the UK being supplied by Distinction, the company’s commitment to growing the sector as well as the company, has never been more powerful, says MD Gareth Williams: “The investment we made last year on developing and refining our customer service offer, is really paying dividends in 2019,” explained Gareth. “We spent £850,000 in a first phase of infrastructure development. This was designed to set new parameters for service expectations generally and also to handle the continued growth in demand for door blanks sold in volume and for our prepped door products, which now account for more than 40% of Distinction sales.”
This strategic infrastructure investment was also aimed specifically at supporting growing demand for blank and prepped versions of Distinction’s innovative nxt-gen range that introduces a more contemporary appearance. This is achieved through the flush fitted inner frame sitting level with the mouldings to give sleek lines that move composite door design on subtly and effectively without compromising British homeowners’ relatively conservative tastes. “nxt-gen was an important step for Distinction,” says Gareth. “The core market for composite doors in the UK is for products that are traditionally styled. So we wanted to introduce something that caught the eye of the homeowners without being too radical; and the message is coming through that the approach was the right one and sales are strong and increasing.
“We also had to ensure that the trust we have with our fabricator customers and of course, their trade installers, is maintained and actually enhanced. Our business partners have worked with us for many years and nxt-gen had to bring something new whilst maintaining or improving our business offer,” says Gareth. “Despite the sleeker aesthetics of nxt-gen we have ensured that the product continues to be the sound, reliable, quality slab that Distinction is known for; we won’t try to fix what isn’t broken.”
In the two decades since Distinction Doors’ founder brought the first composite doors into the UK, it is not just the products that have evolved. Where originally composite doors found favour with social housing specifiers, now the composite door has evolved to become a product favoured by private homeowners, with sales continuing to outstrip the general home improvement market: a new entrance door can make a radical difference to the performance and appearance of a home relatively inexpensively.
Furthermore, installers expect their choice of composite door to be accompanied by comprehensive marketing support. Distinction’s nxt-gen is well served in this respect with a range of high quality marketing materials in addition to exceptional technical support. “Distinction has also led the industry by promoting composite residential doors generally, not just Distinction brands ” says Gareth. “We take the view that growing the cake will always give us a larger slice.”
So whilst nxt-gen was a significant change in the product line up for Distinction Doors, its broader marketing support for composite residential doors will remain unchanged. Distinction continues to lead the market it did so much to create, from the front.