Construction is at the vanguard of the post-pandemic recovery, yet the sector is blighted by materials shortages and supply chain issues. Imperial Bricks reveals how it has invested to ensure it can bring more stock to the market.
Imperial Bricks reports that it has invested £1.5million in a move to new, larger premises and the development of state-of the-art machinery. The company’s new, four-acre site in Bridgnorth, Shropshire — in addition to operating two other storage facilities situated across the country — means the business is now said to have the capacity to stock 12 million bricks in the UK.
Furthermore, the new machinery has “more than doubled” the processing/finishing capacity of the firm’s reclamation brick ranges and also allows for further new product development.
As part of the move, Imperial has invested in new facilities dedicated to the large-scale production of tumbled bricks. The company states that this is the first facility of its kind, which processes its new traditionally-made bricks to “achieve indistinguishable alternatives to genuine reclaimed bricks, which can be difficult to source in volume”. Bricks from this range have already been used by developers such as Millwood Homes — supplied by Parker Building Supplies — on a number of new build housing developments in the South-East.
Jason Hughes, Managing Director of Imperial Bricks, said: “We can now offer merchants new brick ranges and complementary products, as well as securing the reliable supply for which Imperial is recognised. (This means) merchants can sell more bricks and a wider choice, and differentiate their branches.”
The move was reportedly planned for several years and comes in response to growing demand for Imperial Bricks’ range of over 70 handmade, pressed and engineering bricks. The bricks are manufactured with exclusive partner factories in Europe and Asia, with Imperial working with its partners over many years to develop new ranges. As above, many of its bricks are processed by machine or hand at its UK premises to add authentic features such as weathering, sooting, or a reclamation finish.
The company recently announced a new exclusive partnership with a brick manufacturer in Turkey in a move said to provide “assurance of quality and year-round capacity for seven of its most popular brick colours and styles”. The plant meets all of the internationally recognised standards for ethical and quality manufacturing and the “sole supply” contract covers bricks made to Imperial’s specification, which are designed to match authentic regional brickwork found across the UK.
The brick blends include Country Blend, Farmhouse Orange, Imperial Blend, Olde Reclamation Clamp, Reclamation Shire Blend, Urban Weathered and Tudor Multi. These can now be identified as Imperial’s by a ‘stamp’ of its crown logo, found in the frog of the brick, which the company is introducing throughout 2021 and 2022.
The new stamp means merchants, architects, developers and self-builders can identify genuine Imperial products, as a mark of the “quality and ethical manufacturing assurance” that comes with the brand.
Jason explained: “Some of our most popular handmade brick ranges are the first to feature the crown branding, and we’ll be rolling this out across our entire brick portfolio over the next year to protect our ongoing success and the growing demand for high-quality handmade bricks.”
Of the new partnership in Turkey, Jason said: “Imperial only works with factories on a long term, exclusive supply basis. We decline to work with manufacturers / factories who after working on product development look to supply multiple companies in the UK market, so on this basis we have moved to the new facility which meets our rigorous supply criteria.
“The transfer of the original development manager to the new facility ensures Imperial has a continual product pipeline in place, and innovative product development will be continued. This new partnership will afford us the opportunity to broaden our product portfolio into the wider built environment.”
Over the past 10 years, Imperial Bricks has launched a range of traditional handmade bricks to match each region of the UK. It lays claim to being the first company to take this ‘partnership-orientated’ approach with supplier factories, with the facilities meeting “strict ethical and quality assurances (and) at least six out of seven internationally recognised manufacturing and supply standards”. This includes CPR compliance/UKCA marking, SEDEX ethical trading audits and ISO 9001 and 14001.
Imperial’s new Turkish factory is said to be no exception whilst for full transparency of the supply chain, evidence of the standards is available to customers under an NDA, which “national and independent merchants have already viewed to their satisfaction”.
Imperial’s bricks and further details of its ethical and quality manufacturing policies can be viewed on its website.