Changing the face of the UK cladding specialist

February 4th, 2014 Posted in: Industry Issues, Lakesmere


According to a recent article in leading trade magazine Building on the problems faced by clients working in the hi-rise residential sector, ( Face Value, 24th Jan –Building, the future of the UK cladding market is in need of a shake up. It is true that there are very few successful UK based cladding specialists that can compete on both a technical and project size level with their European counterparts. Also true is the fact that the harsh economic climate has  demise of many cladding specialists which has contributed to the perception that the UK market has never really been able to develop the technical skills and experience required. However although many clients and in particular, residential developers look to Europe for the expertise they feel can’t be found at home, there is one UK company that ticks all the boxes. And we’ve been here all along…

Lakesmere is well know in the industry for being the UK’s leading building envelope specialist – we have after all, been established now for 21 years. In 2012, Lakesmere acquired a new subsidiary, McMullen Facades Limited, and in doing so we added specialist glass façade design, manufacturing and installation expertise to our already extensive range of services that includes roofing, cladding and total building envelope solutions. By also expanding our manufacturing capabilities here in the UK, we are confident that we can now offer clients, architects and main contractors a viable alternative to sourcing cladding specialists in Europe. And we are also confident that the benefits of using a UK based specialist such as Lakesmere far outweighs the potentials risks that had previously made looking overseas the preferred option.

One of the concerns raised in Building’s article was that quite often UK specialists attempt to make themselves more attractive by lowering their prices and in turn, lowering their standards of workmanship. This has undoubtedly been the case for some UK companies in the past but throughout its 21 years of business, Lakesmere has always taken a different view, with quality and best value being the currency of choice. By reaching our 21st birthday, Lakesmere has also survived recessions and lived three times longer that the alleged ‘average 7 year lifespan’ of a UK cladding specialist, fuelled by a healthy turnover of £85m in its financial year ending 31 January 2014 and expectation to reach £100m in 2015.

Another valid point made in the article was the potential risks that the European cladding specialists present, in terms of their possible lack of understanding of the UK building regulations and requirements as well as the very real chance of deliveries being delayed owing to the distance they have to travel. It would seem that the problem, particularly in the private residential market where there is no room for delays or technical error, is not so much that clients don’t want to work with UK cladding contractors but more that they feel that it just isn’t a viable option. The Lakesmere Group is hoping to change this perception and has a number of high-profile and complex hi-rise glass façade and cladding contracts in the city already under our belt to support this, such as Project Altitude for Barratt London, One Commercial Street for Redrow and the Canary Wharf Crossrail Development. Based on this it would seem that a number of savvy contractors and developers are beginning to realise the benefits of using a UK based specialist façade contractor.

The importance and reliance on specialist façade consultants such as Wintech, who featured strongly in the Building article, will quite rightly remain an integral part of the procurement of cladding for technically complex hi-rise residential and mixed-use developments. But is there still a place for the cladding specialist? Collaboration may be the buzzword of the day but there is much to be said for utilising the skills and expertise of cladding and façade specialist such as Lakesmere at the earliest opportunity to assist the project team in creating spectacular facades that hit the mark in terms of cost, value and quality. So please, let’s not write off the skills of UK cladding contractors just yet. Lakesmere may have been around for 21 years but in terms of what we can offer the specialist glass façade market, things are just starting to get interesting…

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1 Comment to “Changing the face of the UK cladding specialist”

  1. John Chatley Says:

    Keep the flag flying guys

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