1994 was the year that the Channel Tunnel officially opened, the year that Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa and the year of the first National Lottery draw. We were watching Pulp Fiction and Four Weddings and a Funeral, listening to Definitely Maybe (or maybe Parklife) and shopping at Lidl for the first time.
Much more importantly though, on the Elvicta Trading Estate in Crickhowell, South Wales, a company was being founded which would go on to become AluK.
25 years on, AluK marked that anniversary in style at the FIT Show with a 1990s themed party for customers and colleagues and a special £10,000 prize draw for installers.
For AluK, there is plenty to celebrate. Starting out in 1994 as Beaufort Secure Design with just a single residential aluminium window system, it is now a £40m plus turnover business with a huge, market leading product range serving the residential, trade and commercial sectors.
For Managing Director Russell Yates, whose father Nigel was one of the original shareholders in the business, a key aspect of AluK’s success has been its consistent ability to be ‘first’ at things. He says: “Even when we started out with just 6 staff, we knew we were the first aluminium company in the UK to have a window system with a PVC groove in the sash using a PU thermal break.
“Since then, AluK has been first to develop a double beaded aluminium window to remove the need for dummy vents on internally glazed windows in 2002, first to achieve a WER A rating for a double glazed aluminium window in 2007, and first to achieve PAS24 on a bi-fold door way back in 2010.
“That desire to constantly push the boundaries in terms of product development continues today and, with the new AluK C70S which we previewed at the FIT Show, we have become the first aluminium systems company in the UK to develop a window system with pre-inserted gaskets rolled into the profile.”
There have been a great many changes at AluK since 1994 of course – not least in terms of the name. Beaufort Secure Design was acquired by the Belgian Blyweert Group in 2009 when it became known as Blyweert Beaufort and then, in 2012, the business was bought again by Luxembourg based Valfidus and rechristened as AluK (GB).
It had grown steadily in its early years – recording its first £1m annual turnover in 2003 when it relocated to a 30,000 sq ft facility in Newport, and it reached a turnover of almost £13m in the Blyweert Beaufort days. However, following the acquisition by Valdifus, growth has more than trebled and the new factory in Chepstow dwarfs that earlier Newport facility at a vast 350,000 sq ft.
Russell Yates adds: “Much of the recent growth at AluK can be attributed to our ability to keep on creating the products which the market wants – from our iconic BSF70 bi-fold to our new SL119LM slim slider and new 70mm window system. But it also comes down to a willingness by AluK as a group to keep on investing in the business so that we continue to lead the way in everything from service and quality, to training and customer support
“We have never taken our position in this market for granted, hence the substantial investment in 2017 and 2018 in our inline vertical powder coat paint line with fully integrated flash oxidisation pre-treatment plant, which gives us such a critical advantage when it comes to the quality of our finish.
“Looking ahead, our focus is on continuing to expand our product range and strengthening the partnerships with our customers which are so integral to our success. The FIT Show demonstrated once again that what this market really values is new products and new opportunities. We are delivering those products for our customers and working alongside them so that they can make the most of the opportunities which they represent.”