Monday, 31 May 2021

Are your Potential Retail Sector Clients Maximising their Income from Parking?


Ron Buck, Parking Revenue Sales Specialist, Bft Automation, explores how to make the most of revenue opportunities from owners and operators of shopping centre car parks.

As the retail sector and other “non-essential” businesses can open up again following the easing and eventual lifting of lockdown measures, shopping centres in particular will naturally be looking to make the most of any opportunities to generate additional funds. Car parks are a significant source of income for retail destinations, but, in many cases, centres are failing to realise their full revenue-generating potential.

An efficient and effective system is key to maximising income from car parks and ensuring a smooth shopping experience for visitors. But what are the key considerations when reviewing a centre’s parking provision?

In our experience, it’s best if those involved in the operational, financial and IT management of a shopping centre are all part of the decision-making process when it comes to investing in any new equipment or systems for the car park. 

And what each of these teams will agree on is the importance of having a robust system in place that will futureproof a car park by minimising downtime and flagging any potential problems quickly. Not only will this ensure minimal inconvenience for shoppers but it can of course save a lot of money.

For example, shopping centres can lose hundreds of pounds in a short space of time while waiting for a parking barrier to be fixed, while a long queue caused by a broken ticket machine could put shoppers off making a future visit. For shopping centres that are frequently losing money this way, the cost of introducing a new system would be far outweighed by this ongoing loss of revenue.

Data management

Another important factor to consider is data capture. Modern parking systems should allow shopping centres to measure and manage the daily flow of visits to a car park – providing valuable insight for retailers while allowing shopping centres to better structure their parking tariff framework. 

For instance, by measuring footfall, your clients could adjust the charges around peak times, or offer free parking timeslots to encourage visits at quieter times. Some shopping centres we’ve worked with have used this information to introduce a loyalty discount for frequent shoppers.

The right impression

The majority of visits to shopping centres continue to be made by car and, with public transport falling out of favour among those with concerns about social distancing, shoppers are set to continue to rely heavily on car parks when making their shopping trips, even for destinations in town and city centres.

As such, the shopping experience begins and ends in the car park, with the facilities setting the tone for the whole visit. Dark, cramped spaces with poor signage can put shoppers in a negative frame of mind and even make them feel unsafe.

By contrast, bright, clean, secure car parks with plenty of room to manoeuvre create a far more pleasant atmosphere that immediately puts visitors at ease.

With this in mind, your clients can create the right setting to not only encourage repeat visits but help put shoppers in the right frame of mind for spending more time and money at your centre, by taking steps such as making sure there are enough ticket machines and that they are easy to find.

Making sure a parking operation is running as efficiently as possible, including access to detailed data on how they are used, can help retail venues to maximise this income, while creating the right environment for shoppers – helping to encourage repeat trips at a time when this is more important than ever.




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Sunday, 30 May 2021

London Concours 2021 celebrates modified cars from the 1940s to the 1960s in the ‘Kustom Class’


The London Concours has revealed another of its eclectic classes. In 2021, the event welcomes the best UK-sourced Kustom cars. Curated by the Vintage Hot Rod Association (VHRA) and sponsored by Ace Cafe London, this collection of eight Kustoms contains some of the finest traditionally modified vehicles in the world. 

These spirits of the mid-century era of car customising in Southern California will grace the lawns of the Honourable Artillery Company HQ from 8-10 June – each with its own unique tale to tell.

The first is a 1941 Ford Business Coupe. Period customisation techniques featured on the car include a roofline and ride height drop of four inches, removal of the bonnet and boot trim, plus the addition of period accessories such as Appleton spotlights, fender skirts and flipper hubcaps. 

The process began in the 1970s and was completed by Tim Musico of the Long Beach Cavaliers. The Ford was imported to the UK in 2016 and fully restored to concours condition, including a respray, new upholstery and a full mechanical stripdown and recommissioning.


Also on display will be a Kustom 1950 Ford Coupe. The customisation work was performed by Marco Warren at Juarez Fabrication, who restored the Coupe’s bodywork, dropped the roofline, lowered the car front and rear, removed all the exterior trim, handles and badges, and sunk the front and rear lights seamlessly into the bodywork. It is completed by a set of Foxcraft fender skirts, Appleton spotlights and 1950 Oldsmobile hubcaps.


A true demonstration of the popularity of Kustoms in the UK is a stunning 1953 Austin A40 Somerset. It was converted by Scarlett Devey – who has owned it since she was 19 – to evoke the style of its 1950s Transatlantic Kustom cousins. The three-year home-customisation job included lowering the roof by four inches at the front and six inches at the rear and lowering the ride height as well. The A40 has been converted from a four- to a two-door, with all trim removed and the number plate neatly mounted behind glass. A unique British Kustom, the car is now resplendent in an original 1940s Plymouth colour called Sumac Red, with a sports custom metallic copper and cream interior.


The most recent model in the class is a 1961 Ford Thunderbird. This was imported from California in 2014 to be customised in the style of the late, legendary US custom painter and pinstriper Larry Watson. The car was dropped 2.5 inches, and de rigueur Bellflower exhaust tips were added. The paint job uses House of Kolor shades, with an elaborate combination of various primers, lacquers and three different shades of blue, masked in lace, to provide the car with its striking finish.

These automobiles form part of an eight-strong line-up of eclectic Kustoms, evoking the true spirit of the Southern Californian custom scene. This class is just one of eleven classes and features that will grace this year’s London Concours, hosted 8-10 June at the Honourable Artillery Company HQ. 

Andrew Evans, London Concours Director, said: 
“As cool cars go, they don’t come much cooler than those in this year’s Kustom Class. Evoking the spirit of the Kustom scene in the US, this class celebrates the unique period in American history in which originality was sacrilege. The cars in this class, kindly curated by the Vintage Hot Rod Association and Ace Cafe London, not only evoke an era, they also showcase some of the finest coachbuilding and ingenuity in the UK’s motoring community. We can’t wait to welcome these cars and their enthusiast owners to the lawns of the Honourable Artillery Club this June.”
Neil Fretwell, of the Vintage Hot Rod Association, said: 

“The Vintage Hot Rod Association is all about old cars that look like they may have caused havoc at a dirt track in the 1930s, roared across a dry lake bed in the 1940s, maybe tore up a dragstrip in the 1950s, or perhaps just cruised the streets of Southern California. If you’ve ever seen a copy of Throttle, an early issue of Hot Rod, or the Rod & Custom little pages, you’ll know exactly the kind of car we’re talking about.”

He continued: 
“For this year’s London Concours we stepped outside our usual remit, selecting a group of cars that represent a different side of American custom culture, albeit from the same era. The Kustom Class presents the finest cars of their kind in the UK, which will rival any around the world with the quality of design and craftsmanship that has gone into each and every one of them.”
Mark Wilsmore, Ace Cafe London Managing Director, said: 
“With the Ace, which was established 1938, today hosting a plethora of vehicles, it is a privilege to be a part of the Kustom Class at such a prestigious motor showcase that is the London Concours.”
Previously held over two days, the London Concours 2021 shifts to a three-day event to capitalise on visitor demand for more luxury brand content – from jewellery to bespoke suits – and modern supercars. The three days will be a VIP Preview Day, Style Edition and Supercar Day. At the heart of each day will remain the collection of nearly 100 rare and iconic luxury cars of all ages that has quickly cemented the London Concours as one of the UK’s top motoring events. 

The London Concours takes place from 8-10 June 2021. Tickets are available from www.londonconcours.co.uk/tickets




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Saturday, 29 May 2021

ASSA ABLOY Door Group highlight the Importance of Fire Door Inspections in Healthcare Environments


Door Group, a unit of ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions UK & Ireland, is calling for higher standards of fire door inspections, after concerns were raised surrounding fire safety in healthcare environments.

Recent statistics reveal an increase in both the number of fires recorded and the number of people sustaining injuries from fires in NHS trusts across England . Shockingly, 1,560 fires were recorded in the 2019/2020 period, and there were 46 injuries, which was a significant increase of over 35% when compared with 2018/2019.


The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires healthcare organisations undertake risk assessments to identify the general fire precautions needed to safeguard occupants in case of fire, including their safe means of escape. But with fire protection systems failing time and time again, it is clear that more needs to be done.

Fire doors are one of the most important safety features in a building, and regular inspections are essential to fully ensure health and safety measures are met. Healthcare buildings can present highly specific requirements for fire doorsets, with particularly varied legislation and building regulations surrounding fire doors in hospitals.


Lee Cook, Door Group Business Development Manager for Repair, Service and Maintenance, explains: 
“As part of our commitment to fire door safety in hospitals, Door Group provide a fully comprehensive inspection which can be carried out every three, four, six or 12 months to suit specific requirements.

“Following inspections, we then offer detailed reports containing advice and recommendations on necessary improvements, with the knowledge that identifying any potential issues that could impact safety and product performance can be lifesaving.

“If any issues do occur, a tailored repair proposal is issued to include anything from replacement doors to a regular maintenance program. Door Group inspectors are BRE-certified and will ensure that all fire doors inspected meet all necessary standards and regulations.”
Brian Sofley, Managing Director for Door Group, adds: 
“The figures we’re seeing regarding fires and injuries from fires in the healthcare sector are a great cause for concern. Hospitals should be a safe and secure environment for staff and patients, without worries around fire safety. 

“Door Group is committed to making hospitals and other healthcare institutions across the UK fire protected. With regular and thorough inspections, we can ensure the compliance and performance of fire doorsets to improve overall fire safety within the sector.”
For more information on ASSA ABLOY Door Group, please visit https://bit.ly/3hVybbC




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Friday, 28 May 2021

Quality, Delivery and Service – the Munster Joinery philosophy


One of the largest manufacturers of energy-efficient doors and windows in Europe, Munster Joinery, have renewed their membership with the official police security initiative Secured by Design.

Founded in 1973, Munster Joinery has grown year on year, with the continuous development of new products, materials and processes and serves the Irish, UK and international markets.

With operations in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, the company has a 910,000sq ft. production facility on a sixty-five-acre site in Ballydesmond with another 230,000 sq ft on a 20-acre site at Wellesbourne in the UK and has a workforce of 1,700 people. 

Munster Joinery offers a complete service, from site survey and product manufacture through to delivery and installation by trained Munster Joinery personnel. All of the company’s products are manufactured in their own factory, including critical operations such as uPVC extrusion, kiln-drying of timber and manufacture of glazing units. 

Secured by Design National Manager Kenny McHugh said: 
“I am delighted that Munster Joinery have renewed their membership. They have been valued members of Secured by Design since 2005 and I am amazed at the continual development of their production facility in Ballydesmond.  The constant expansion is a testament to their ethos, which sees them supplying to both the domestic and international markets. 

“Munster Joinery have an extensive range of window systems and doorsets which have achieved our Police Preferred Specification and I look forward to a continued successful working relationship with them”.

Marlene O’Mahony, Quality Manager at Munster Joinery, said: 
“We are delighted to continue our long association with Secured by Design.  This excellent police initiative has allowed us to contribute to very many prestigious developments of secure homes over the years.  It offers our customers comfort in the knowledge that our products are tried and tested.”

You can find out more about Munster Joinery and their extensive range of Secured by Design accredited products here: www.securedbydesign.com




Secured by Design (SBD) is owned by the UK Police Service with the specific aim of reducing crime and helping people live more safely. 

SBD seek to improve the physical security of buildings and the surrounding area using products, such as doors, windows, locks and walling systems along with fencing systems that meet the SBD Police Preferred Specification security requirements.

In addition, SBD work closely with builders, developers, local authorities and registered housing associations to incorporate the police crime prevention standards into developments from initial concept and design, through to construction and completion. 

Police forces throughout the UK have specially trained Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs) who offer police designing out crime and SBD advice free of charge. Over one million homes have been built to SBD standards with reductions in crime of up to 87%.

SBD have many partner organisations, ranging from the Home Office, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government through to local authorities, housing associations, developers and manufacturers and work closely with standards and certification bodies.

SBD developed a product based accreditation scheme over 20 years ago – the Police Preferred Specification, which provides a recognised standard for all security products that can deter and reduce crime. SBD work with manufacturers and standards authorities to ensure that security standards are current and updated to keep pace with emerging crime trends. 

There are currently many hundreds of companies producing thousands of attack resistant crime prevention products, across over 30 different crime categories, which have achieved Police Preferred Specification.

SBD is the only way for companies to obtain police recognition for security-related products in the UK.

Munster Joinery 
Tel: 00353 6477 51151 

Secured by Design





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Thursday, 27 May 2021

Steel Screens for Stylish Interior Spaces


Steel doors and windows are synonymous with rugged performance and slim sightlines; and these same distinctive frames and profiles are now being specified for inside a building too. 

 Members of the Steel Window Association (SWA) are helping to create stylish interior spaces for locations such as restaurants, hotels and residential properties which are demanding the industrial, fashionable steel look.

These internal partitions are normally fabricated using the W20 sections, rather than the higher energy performing W30 or W40 systems favoured for exterior openings. Whilst the majority of screens installed are single glazed, some clients still often select double glazed screens - featuring 16mm Krypton filled units. 

This enables spaces like wine stores to be kept chilled while diners enjoy warmer ambient temperatures. And the same glass specification is also able to cut sound transmission where steel partitions are chosen to create meeting rooms within offices.

There is a choice of door types. Side-hinged remains the most common, but sliding doors are increasingly popular with customers being able to choose between recessed or face-mounted rails; various styles of sliding mechanism are offered to suit the designers' preferred aesthetic.

All doors and most partitions will be glazed with toughened or laminated glass for safety, while enhanced locking can be fitted to offer the same security as for exterior applications.

The Steel Window Association's members are able to offer a full selection of options for new-build and replica refurbishment, as well as historic projects; including W20, W30, W40 and W50 frames able to comply with the requirements of Part L to the building regulations. 

Choosing an SWA member to manufacture and install your steel windows and doors ensures that you are receiving the highest standard of fabrication, installation and customer service.

For further information on the Steel Window Association, please visit www.steel-window-association.co.uk or call 020 8543 2841.







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Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Why do Schools lack Fire protection such as Sprinklers?


In this article, Iain Cox, Chair of the Business Sprinkler Alliance presents the case of why schools lack the fire protection, such as sprinklers, that they clearly need.

The upheaval in education due to the pandemic in the past year has only highlighted how damaging the closure of schools has been and the legacy of lost learning. Further unnecessary interruption to education should be avoided, not least when it comes to fire. With hundreds of schools in the UK having a fire each year It needs further action. During the past year we have seen major fires in schools across the UK all without sprinklers that could have minimised those incidents. As we enter the NFCC Sprinkler Week, fewer than one-in-six new schools have been built with a sprinkler system installed. It is time we changed that. 
 
School fires have a devastating impact on both a school and a community. Three school fires in Derbyshire last year are a painful reminder of the damage, disruption and the costs incurred when they are not fitted with sprinklers. 
 
On the morning of Saturday 3rd October, six fire engines and two aerial ladder platforms were called to attend a major blaze at St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Darley Abbey, Derby. The fire quickly engulfed the building, which was largely destroyed and reported as a ‘total loss’. Just 48 hours later, in the early hours of Monday 5th October, there was a second severe fire only four miles away, this time at Ravensdale Infant School in Mickleover which required 12 fire engines from the Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service. Whilst the Fire and Rescue service brought the fire under control there was extensive damage to the building. Neither building had sprinklers fitted.

The children from the St Mary’s Catholic Voluntary Academy were originally sent to work from home for three weeks before being displaced into two separate local schools. They have now been reunited in temporary accommodation within a refurbished office block over three floors. There is no firm date for the replacement school. The children from the Ravensdale school are being moved to temporary locations and may move again during the £8 million rebuild of their schools which is expected to be completed late in 2022.
 
These two devastating fires come in the wake of a blaze in the same area four months earlier at Harrington Junior School in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. Thankfully, no children were on site and teachers and staff who were working in the building were able to evacuate safely. Despite the efforts of the Fire and Rescue Service, they were unable to save the building. Not only did the fire severely affect the children’s education when they returned to temporary classroom accommodation after lockdown, the school will have to be rebuilt. The temporary classroom accommodation was noted to cost £500,000 and is expected to be in place for two years during the rebuild. The cost of the rebuild was further reported to be £5.5 million and will require central funding.
 
Currently, sprinklers are currently only mandatory in new school buildings in Scotland and centrally funded schools in Wales, but not in England and Northern Ireland. Yet observations on the incidence of fire relative to the population of school buildings, indicate that the rate of fires in England is the same as in Scotland and Wales. 
 
According to a 2019 study by Zurich Municipal (1), education insurer for half of the schools and universities in the UK, two-thirds of schools have ‘poor’ fire protection and are not properly prepared for a potential damaging fire. It also found that schools in England are ‘twice as likely’ to suffer fires than other school buildings. The insurer has stated that a change to government legislation to make sprinklers mandatory will not only protect children in school, but will also contain a fire to the room it starts when it begins out of school hours. 
 
The government is still considering the response to its call for evidence on Building Bulletin 100 (BB100) which closed in May 2019. The BSA has always highlighted that BB100 sets the right expectations around the protection of schools and the continuity of education. It sets an expectation that the school should be fully functional within 24 hours of a fire, apart from the room where the fire occurred. The BSA wants the government to explicitly maintain these objectives and enhance the “sprinkler expectation” in the revised BB100 so that fewer schools are damaged and destroyed by fire. Better still, the government should make property protection a consideration for the fire safety Building Regulations to effectively protect all buildings of significant social and/or economic value from fire. 
 
Ensuring the safety of a building’s occupants is considered the minimum under current regulations, but it is clearly not the optimal outcome. A sprinkler system would serve to protect both the occupants and the building, allowing students to return to normality far more rapidly and with considerably less disruption to teachers’ already hectic schedules during this pandemic.
 
Fires in schools must be avoided. How many more fires need to occur before sprinkler installation becomes a prerequisite of school design and safety?

Business Sprinkler Alliance

The Business Sprinkler Alliance (BSA) was established in 2010 and is an alliance of fire safety professionals working to protect UK plc against fire. The BSA aims to highlight the true cost of fire and increase the number of business premises that have automatic fire sprinklers fitted. The BSA is driving a culture change so that sprinklers are understood and accepted as the norm for UK business buildings.







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Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Stairways leads way in Fire Safety Innovation


Leading timber door solutions and staircase manufacturer Stairways Midlands have launched PinPoint, a pioneering new way of ensuring their fire doors are installed in accordance with certification and maintained correctly thereafter. 

Adopting Near Field Communication (NFC) technology and linking into the national fire door database through Door Data Systems, PinPoint is a major step forward for the company, which has bases in Southam, Walsall and Welshpool supplying a national distribution network, and demonstrates their support for the requirements of ‘Building a Safer Future’ and the recently introduced Fire Safety Act.

A small plastic pin is installed during production. It looks to the end-user just like a small nail, but can be scanned with an app to reveal data about the product, like certification, installation instructions, manufacturer schedules and component details.

Stairways Midlands is now offering this innovation on all fire doors from its wide range to help customers and building owners manage responsibilities and compliance.


Karen Wood, Joint Managing Director at Stairways Midlands, said: 
“This is a really important step forward for safety, embracing technology to achieve compliance whilst helping improve traceability and door maintenance throughout its life.

“PinPoint provides a cost-effective, easy and fully transferrable digital passport. It is designed to meet head-on legislative reform and provide a solution that really delivers.”
When a door with PinPoint is delivered, the door’s digital passport will already have been created by Stairways Midlands during the manufacturing process. The installer team, upon commencing, simply scans PinPoint from a mobile device into the secure app. 

This then requires a 10-point check to be carried out during install, requesting photographs to be taken at pivotal points which are then saved to the app, providing valuable reference at a later date for the installation contractor and duty holders.

Using PinPoint also helps third-party accredited inspections by providing consolidation of record-keeping, which can be exported to support invoicing. 

Other features and benefits include: 
  • A national fire door compliance software application bringing together all elements involved in the fire door lifecycle
  • Installed during the door set manufacturing processes, starting the ‘Golden Thread’ process.
  • Full management systems for installation contractors
  • Easy to manage maintenance and repairs for facility managers, building owners ensuring a doors integrity is maintained at all times.
  • Traceable and accessible at every stage of the door’s lifecycle
  • Identification of door set from a single scan
  • Sharing critical information across all parties 
  • Fast and efficient solution to fulfilling duties under the Regulatory Reform Order 2005, the Fire Safety Act and Building a Safer Future.
To find out more, visit www.stairways.co.uk, call 01926 818770 or email enquiries@stairways.co.uk




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Monday, 24 May 2021

Garador to Exhibit at Homebuilding and Renovating Show in July (Event now cancelled)



Britain’s leading garage door manufacturer Garador was due to exhibit at the National Homebuilding and Renovating Show at Birmingham’s NEC (8-11th July), however they will no longer be exhibiting due to the show being cancelled by the organisers this week.

According to the Homebuilding and Renovating Show website, the date for the show has been moved to 24 -27 March 2022 at Birmingham’s NEC. Garador will update us with their plans in due course.

To find out more about Garador and its full range of garage doors and entrance doors, please visit www.garador.co.uk 




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Sunday, 23 May 2021

First production Land Rover at Beaulieu for Simply Land Rover


4X4 fans will be in their element at Beaulieu’s Simply Land Rover on Sunday 11th July, with a fun Forest Drive, bargain-filled Rummage stalls and an impressive line-up of Land Rovers including the first production Land Rover ever built, as part of a big day out that all the family will enjoy, together.


Always an event season favourite with fans of Britain’s off-roading icon, the rally will return to the grounds and parkland of the National Motor Museum for 2021 following the easing of restrictions, as the fifth of Beaulieu’s 15 Covid-secure Simply rallies planned to take place this year.


A four-wheeled VIP guest to the show will be the first production Land Rover ever built, JUE 477, following its heroic restoration after decades abandoned on a farm. Painstakingly pieced back together and wearing its years with pride, this 1948 survivor is a unique piece of motoring history and will be taking its place in the show for all to admire.


Make sure to head inside the National Motor Museum to see Beaulieu’s own 1948 pre-production Land Rover on display. The fourth of a batch of pilot vehicles built before production started and known as ‘R04’, it’s one of the oldest surviving Land Rovers in the world.


Every era of Land Rover’s long and proud history is sure to be represented in the diverse line-up, with owners of every age Land Rover invited to take part. Series I, II and III models from the early years are always well-represented, along with the immortal Defender. Look out for variations on the hugely popular Discovery as well as the iconic Range Rover, from its 1970s beginnings, up to the Sport, Velar and Evoque of today.


Land Rover drivers itching to go off-road will love the Forest Drive by Land Rover Experience West Country, with the chance to test both their treasured vehicles and their own driving skills on an enjoyable convoy along challenging woodland tracks.


There will be plenty of opportunities to find bargains in the Simply Land Rover Rummage, with stands devoted to Land Rover spares. Whether you are looking for much needed parts for your own Landy, or simply spot a sought-after accessory for sale that you can’t resist, this is a must-see section of the show. With complete vehicles also up for sale, maybe you’ll find yourself heading home with a new project?


All tickets must be bought in advance, with carefully-managed capacity limits in place. Rally participants, planning to take part in the show with their Land Rover, can book their tickets with confidence thanks to Beaulieu’s Covid-19 refund policy*. Visit www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/simply-land-rover for further details and to buy your participant tickets. 

All other visitors should purchase normal visitor admission tickets, which will be available to book at www.beaulieu.co.uk from June.

Visitor and participant tickets include entrance to all that Beaulieu has to offer, including the National Motor Museum, Little Beaulieu, On Screen Cars, the ancestral Montagu home Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, 13th century Beaulieu Abbey and the stunning grounds and gardens. Visit www.beaulieu.co.uk for more information.

* Book with confidence, knowing that we've got you covered with our Covid-19 refund policy. If the event is unable to take place due to Government guidance, we will happily transfer your ticket to a future event or issue you with a full refund.




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Saturday, 22 May 2021

Swoon Selects become a Key Factor in growth of Plank Hardware


Plank Hardware was founded in 2018 by partners Annie Aveyard and Tom Revill, who wanted to combine their experience growing and managing businesses with a product they were passionate about. 

They initially begun by selling shelves made from scaffolding boards and whilst doing their own home renovation, they spotted an opportunity to inspire people to customise, transform and revitalise existing home spaces and furniture with high-quality stylish hardware. 


The son of two interior designers, Tom always had an entrepreneurial flair, founding a confectionary brand aged 19. After several years in e-commerce consulting, he combined his interest in design with his architectural engineering degree to design and curate a range of solid brass hardware products, with Annie bringing finance and management experience from her work with both international brands and startups.  

The pair have since grown sales at Plank by 4X, citing Swoon Selects as a key factor in their growth to date, collaborating with Swoon founders Debbie Williamson and Brian Harrison on marketing, logistics and growth as they look to take the business to the next level. 


Annie previously worked at Swoon and values Debbie and Brian as key mentors as Plank grows as a design focussed e-commerce brand. 

Key facts & figures:
  • Plank saw a huge 75% increase in sales on Swoon Selects between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021, and has expanded its range on the marketplace by 93%
  • Prior to founding Plank, Annie worked in finance at both Swoon and McDonald’s, while Tom brought experience from his own entrepreneurial pursuits and his experience as an e-commerce consultant, where he focussed on helping consumer brands grow a presence on marketplaces such as E-bay and Amazon.
  • Eschewing traditional showrooms and sales methods, Plank sought out Swoon Selects and other sales routes where they felt they could offer a different and complementary product, helping consumers make informed purchases and shop for hardware for their projects in a flexible way, something not usually possible with traditional direct to trade sales settings.




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Friday, 21 May 2021

Introducing Novoferm’s New Customer Service Manager


As part of their ongoing commitment to providing an exceptional customer experience, Novoferm are proud to introduce their brand-new Customer Service Manager, Alison Jarrett.

Alison joins the ever-growing Novoferm family, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge and experience spanning over 20 years, including ten years in management. The mother of two has proven herself efficient, innovative, and methodical, able to resolve projects to the highest standards with meticulous attention to detail.

Highly Respected Customer Service Professional

Alison started out at Dupont selling printing consumables before moving to Agfa to help establish a new team. She has spent the last eight years working in London for software company, Adgistics, managing an international helpdesk. Alison is described by those who’ve worked with her as a highly respected customer service professional. She holds an abundance of experience, including ten years in management. 

Her efficient, innovative, methodical approach to managing and resolving projects has brought her much success, and Novoferm are pleased to see this success replicated with them. Novoferm are committed to delivering exceptional customer service. They are confident Alison can help them with this with her having achieved record-high customer satisfaction rankings, improvements to the bottom line and turnabout of underperforming operations.

Recommended by Many

The list of recommendations received by Alison are certainly numerous, with many examples on her LinkedIn page. One commenter was quoted as saying: 
“I can happily recommend Alison. Not only is she extremely professional in her approach to work and can think around any problem that may arise, she is a joy to work alongside.”
Yet another was quoted as saying: 
“Alison is a fantastic person, with a gravitational personality who knows what to do and when to do it. She has been at the centre of the huge success within the customer services division of Adgistics, and her great skill set at dealing with even the most difficult of customers or situations should be commended to the highest level. Alison is one of a kind.”
Novoferm are confident that Alison, who spends half of every weekend watching football, will certainly have no trouble keeping her eye on the ball. With her introduction as Customer Service Manager, Novoferm’s customers will continue to enjoy the excellent service they have come to expect.
For more information about Novoferm and what they do, make sure to visit www.novoferm.co.uk/ or phone them on 01582 377070.




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Thursday, 20 May 2021

DHF urges caution as DIY activity continues to soar


The past 14 months have been, by anyone’s standards, unprecedented, as the challenge of COVID-19 has impacted every detail of our lives, prompting change and a new way of living and working.  

Multiple lockdowns have seen most of us homebound for long periods of time and, subsequently, we have been forced to discover new pastimes, albeit, ‘closer to home’.  One such activity undertaken by many during this time has been DIY, with consumers focusing on home improvements rather than moving.

Repair and maintenance in the private housing sector is worth £1,862 million and, in this most recent month, has increased by 4.7%.  Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that between February 2020 and April 2020, the initial reduction in repair and maintenance on private housing was 49%.  However, between April 2020 and February 2021 it had recovered to a staggering 111%.

Explains DHF’s Head of Commercial Operations, Patricia Sowsbery-Stevens:
“There are a number of reasons why we have seen such a surge in home improvements over the past year,”   

“We have had more time on our hands to tackle the jobs often neglected because of the pace of our lives, or to take more notice of what we would like to improve in the home.  For DIY activities, many homeowners have attempted to complete jobs themselves that they might otherwise have left to the professionals.  And with leisure activity, such as visiting restaurants and going on holiday drastically reduced, the nation has had more disposable income for larger home improvement projects. 
“In all instances where professional installations are required, such as fitting a new garage door, we would urge caution, and to use a trained DHF member who can offer a correctly installed and fully compliant product.  It is particularly important that the garage door is supplied with the correct safety features, to ensure that the door retracts if it comes into contact with anything or anybody.  ‘Hold to run’ controls that can be operated out of direct sight of the door are not compliant unless another safety feature is included such as a safety edge. ”
Explains Julie Chester of Garage Doors Lancashire, her family business that has been in operation for more than 40 years and is a long-standing member of DHF:
“The DIY market is extremely buoyant at the moment, and this is largely because of COVID,” 

“People have more disposable income and are investing in home improvements.  Fitting a garage door is an extremely specialised craft however, particularly if automated, and we always recommend using a DHF member.”
Mark McEvoy of Garage Door Systems and Chair of the DHF Garage Door Group echoes Julie’s sentiments:
“When COVID first hit last March, the months of March and April were quiet; there was much uncertainty in the market.  However, since then, and over the past year, the market has boomed, up 30%, and this includes those two lost months at the start of the pandemic.  Despite the supply issues relating to Brexit, the market remains buoyant.  I predict this will remain the case for the next 12 months at least as many will still be cautious about travelling overseas and will wish to spend their income on home improvements.

“As with any major DIY project, using a professional is key.  A garage door is the largest moving object in the home and fitting one is a highly specialised job.  We would always recommend seeking the skills of a fully trained installer to fit a garage door, or indeed, anything else within the home that requires specialist knowledge.”
Door & Hardware Federation
01827 52337




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Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Strand Supports Virtual Event


Combining the traditional with the new will be the theme of a presentation given by Strand Technologies during an online conference for members of the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers this month (May).

Strand Technologies - and its sister brand, Strand Hardware - are among the official sponsors of the GAI Members Day which will combine its annual meeting with learning and networking sessions, including discussion panels, keynote speakers and product showcases.

The event, on 27 May, is being staged for members of the Guild as a virtual event.

Said Catherine Franks, Managing Director of Strand: 
“We are delighted to show our continued support as a sponsor of the Guild’s Members Day. The event promises to be insightful and informative with a focus on the future of architectural ironmongery.

“The event is being realised due to advancement of digital platforms, so it seems the ideal opportunity to introduce Guild members to our own technology innovation to demonstrate how the blend between manual and automatic solutions can provide seamless solutions that meet customer requirements around safety and functionality.”
Simon Forrester, Chief Executive of GAI, added: 
“It is important to keep looking forward within our industry, to ensure that we continue to deliver high standards in the advice and services we offer. 

“The support of our sponsors is such an important contribution in helping make this day happen and we would like to thank Strand for its sponsorship and involvement.”
Among the products being showcased by Strand Technologies are its iContact range including Virtual Engineer and Virtual Usher products. The Virtual Engineer is a control and diagnostic product for entrance systems while the Virtual Usher provides occupancy and flow management with accompanying products such ‘traffic light’ entrance signals.

Strand Technologies was established in April 2021. It develops and manufactures technology-based solutions for safety, security and control which can be used across a range of industries including: facilities management, public sector building management, transport and traffic management, haulage, refrigeration and warehousing.

For more information on Strand Technologies products visit: www.strandtech.co.uk

Guild members can register to attend the event by visiting: https://upstage.hirespace.com/e/GAIMembersDay2021





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