PBM speaks to Paul Duffy, Managing Director of roofing solutions specialist, Onduline Building Products about the firm’s strategic direction.
Almost a year into the job, Onduline MD Paul Duffy is maintaining his plan to “re-energise” the long-established company and set its trajectory for future growth. Founded in France in 1944, Onduline is a leading player on in manufacturing bituminous corrugated roofing materials, laying claim to a huge 95% of global production in bitumen sheets, with its lightweight eco-friendly roofing system used across the globe for agricultural, industrial, leisure and DIY applications
With products manufactured at various sites in Europe, Onduline UK is based in the City of London. And, speaking in April just as the coronavirus crisis was beginning to take hold, Paul said that while the company was maintaining a profitable position, UK sales in recent years have been “solid rather than where they could be”.
He explained: “The good news was that while the business had been losing market share, it wasn’t to direct competitors. 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 has addressed this by reshaping the UK team, making a series of new appointments and, in March, establishing a revised structure alongside introducing what he describes as a “fresh, sales-led strategy”.
The changes included the newly-created role of Head of Marketing and exploring digital routes to market, with Paul stating: “We needed to get better at telling the Onduline story, to increase brand awareness and our exposure in the marketplace. Also, for our sales team to re-engage with the roofing merchants and specialist distributors who sell our products.”
He continued: “Onduline has always had strong indirect relationships with many of the national and regional builders’ merchants through our supply partners, where our quality products have been used for many years. This channel remains a priority moving forward.
“We have aspirations to further strengthen our relationship with the merchants by increasing the product range available for them to distribute through their supply channels. Furthermore, we would very much like to support the merchants through their dedicated buying groups in partnership with our key supply chain partners where possible.”
Of the then-emerging impact of Covid-19, he added: “Where our existing supply chain partners are not currently operating, we would be happy to work direct to support merchants further and increase the range of Onduline products available to them.”
The company states that it 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 it could do even better.
Low pitch solutions
One area outlined as having “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 and Paul said: “The pitch can be as low as 12.5°.”
He continued: “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.”
With a new direction established, Paul believes he has laid the foundations for a resurgent Onduline in the UK: “The objective is to achieve sustained and profitable growth, and stay ahead of our competitors. We’ll do that by reaching the right customers, reinforcing our core markets and developing new ones.”
For more information on Onduline’s range of lightweight roofing solutions, click here.