Britain’s leading domestic chimney manufacturer, the Washington-based Schiedel Chimney Systems, is enjoying a year of record sales as homeowners return to traditional heat sources to combat rocketing gas and electricity bills.
The company has seen its sales jump 26% compared to last year, reinforcing its market-leading position and ensuring it is ready to take advantage of continued growth in 2014.
Schiedel Chimney Systems, which employs 110 people, sells more than 600km of system chimneys, connecting flue pipes and chimney liners in the UK each year.
Starting life in 1968 as Rite Vent, the business has been part of the German Schiedel Group for the past 10 years.
In addition to the North East manufacturing base and UK head office, it also has sites in Northern Ireland and Wimborne in Dorset.
Chief executive Michael Ball said: “The last 12 months has been phenomenal for Schiedel in the UK.
“We are increasing both our sales and our market share, thanks to the considerable amount of time we have invested in researching the market and developing the right products for the installers, ultimately saving them time and money.”
A combination of external factors have also contributed to the company’s success.
As the UK construction industry turns the corner after the recession, for example, demand for domestic chimneys is rising.
The continued hike in energy prices likewise means more people are exploring alternative heating options, such as stoves and biomass boilers.
Schiedel’s decision to open its HETAS accredited training centre for stove and biomass installation has also played an important part in this year’s growth, along with the introduction of products specifically developed for the stove and biomass markets. Sales of its Eco ICID product range, for example, have increased by 250% in the past year, from £950,000 to £2.5m.
Ball added: “As a company we cannot stand still. We have to move forward, predict trends and evolve the range to suit the needs of the industry. Our research and development teams work hard to identify in advance what our customers want, and we have launched new products in each of the last three years.
“Chimneys may be considered a very traditional business but it’s actually a very cutting-edge industry, which is constantly evolving.
“We use laser-welding technology in the factory and have also developed installation apps for key product ranges as a further aid to installers.”