The only way is up
Nine months in and Managing Director Paul Duffy’s plan to re-energise the long-established Onduline Building Products is shaping up well with the company on a trajectory for future growth.
Founded in France in 1944, Onduline is the undisputed leader in manufacturing bituminous corrugated roofing materials, claiming 95 per cent of global production in bitumen sheets. Its lightweight eco-friendly roofing system is used worldwide for agricultural, industrial, leisure and DIY applications.
While maintaining a profitable position, sales in the UK in recent years have been solid rather than where they could be, said Paul. “The good news was that while the business had been losing market share, it wasn’t to direct competitors,” he added. “It happened because we had not been in touch with customers enough. They were beginning to forget us as no-one was consistently calling on them.”
Paul addressed this by reshaping the UK team, making a series of new appointments and, in March, establishing a revised structure. All this happened alongside the introduction of a fresh, sales-led strategy. The changes included the newly created role of Head of Marketing and exploring digital routes to market.
“We needed to get better at telling the Onduline story, to increase brand awareness and our exposure in the marketplace,” Paul continued. “Also for our sales team to re-engage with the roofing merchants and specialist distributors who sell our products.”
A key selling point of the Onduline roofing system is that it is made from 50 per cent to 60 per cent of recycled materials. “Compared to many other roofing products we have one of the best carbon footprints in the industry,” noted Paul.
Onduline is the lightweight roofing segment leader in the UK for the timber frame buildings market, from the equestrian and agricultural sectors, to log cabins and orangeries, to sheds, summer houses and pergolas, but Paul believes they could do even better. One other area with ‘huge opportunities’ is under-roofing for very low pitch applications. The underlay system is installed below tile, slate or shingle roof coverings, creating an independent secondary weatherproof roof. “It means the pitch can be as low as 12.5°,” explained Paul. “It has BBA (British Board of Agrément) certification and is starting to attract questions from architects and specifiers who are recognising the benefits, as well as the green credentials.
“It has big advantages in major cities like London Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool for example, where there are height restrictions for buildings. By putting on a low pitch roof, it means they can potentially get another storey on.”
When Paul took up the Managing Director position he brought with him over 20 years’ sales experience in the construction materials sector. With a new direction established, he has laid the foundations for a resurgent Onduline in the UK. He said: “The objective is to achieve sustained and profitable growth, and stay ahead of our competitors. We’ll do that by reaching the right customers, that means reinforcing our core markets and developing new ones.”
Onduline in the UK is based in the City of London, while the products are manufactured at various sites in Europe.