Expert for Roof Windows

Jim Blanthorne

Managing Director

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Jim Blanthorne

With a career spanning 20 years in the supply of building materials to merchant and retail customers, including 14 years in a senior capacity at Metsa Group, Jim brings extensive construction industry experience to this category. Recently appointed to Managing Director of Keylite Roof Windows, Jim joined the Keystone Group in 2016 as International Operations Director for the business. During this time he has led the development and implementation of ambitious investment programmes to progress and future proof the business. Central to Jim’s approach and drive is his passion for exceptional customer service, people development and operational excellence.

Keylite Roof Windows

Keylite Roof Windows was established in Cookstown, Northern Ireland in 2001, as a subsidiary of the Keystone Group. Today it is the fastest growing roof window manufacturer in Europe and one of the biggest brands in the UK roof windows market. This success is largely a result of a company which has been driven by an ingrained and intuitive spirit of innovation, continuous investment in R&D and a total commitment in putting the customer at the heart of its business.

Renowned for its award winning innovations, Keylite believes in continually adding value to the Keylite Roof Window as standard without compromise. A combination of unique patented technologies such as the Integrated Expanding Thermal Collar, Flick Fit Brackets, Unique Sash Finger Spring and recessed fit feature in every window.

Keylite offers a full range of roof windows products, designed for every size and category of building project, an extensive range of genuine Keylite Blinds, as well as roof window accessories including timber loft ladders, flashings and electric operation kits. Ongoing expansion of the range includes a range of flat roof solutions including Roof Lanterns, Flat Glass Rooflights and Sunlite systems.

The business has over 300 employees across its sites, with offices in Northern Ireland and Burton Gateway, South Derbyshire. The relocation in 2019 to brand new 40,000 sq ft office and warehouse premises at Burton Gateway greatly enhances Keylite’s ability to service and supply the UK and Ireland markets more effectively. Keylite’s roof windows are manufactured in Poland, in a 160,000 sq ft factory which has benefited from a significant investment programme during recent years, significantly improving the safety, quality and reliability of manufacturing activity.

Find out more at www.keyliteroofwindows.com or visit the Keystone Group website at www.keystonegroup.co.uk

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Keylite Roof Windows Comment: Q1 2021

Jim Blanthorne, Managing Director Keylite Roof Windows is BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows.

As we reflect on Q1, a combination of higher than forecast demand, learning to adapt to a post-Brexit customs environment, and material availability challenges would best be described as character building. Team Keylite needed every ounce of our passion, agility and resilience to come out smiling!

Sales performance was generally strong, albeit with a slightly slow start to the year which could be attributed to the understandable stock piling by merchant stockists in Q4 2020 to mitigate Brexit related supply chain risks. As we progressed into mid-January, the situation normalised with the exception of the Republic of Ireland, where construction was locked down, somewhat denting volumes from this market.

Other core markets continued to perform well, bolstered by continued strong demand from the RMI sector together with a marked increase in construction output. Government stimulus in the form of extended stamp duty holidays amongst other measures resulted in the strongest property market in a decade: welcome news for all of us in the business of the manufacture and distribution of building materials.

So what about Brexit? As it happened, shipping was challenging at times but through good relationships with haulage partners and a great deal of planning, we secured most of the capacity we needed.   However, Brexit has certainly not come without cost. Customs arrangements (combined with Covid disruption) have resulted in significant surcharges from hauliers, while the administrative burden of reporting on our import and export activity resulted in the need to recruit.

Roof window core materials of timber, PVC, aluminium, glass, foam, plastic and steel components have all seen availability issues or cost increases. Some have seen both. The root causes of Covid, shipping and capacity reductions are well documented. But, speaking for Keylite, we appear to have fared better than some, having largely being able to shelter our customers from the disruption using our significant stock holding at our distribution centres, however cost inflation will inevitably result in upwards pressure on price.

As we enter Q2, the fragility of global supply chains is more apparent than ever. Our commitment is to continue to increase stocks of raw materials, sub components and finished goods to mitigate against this, in support of growing volumes with our loyal customers.