Cornwall Glass & Glazing has created a presence at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre in Swindon, which will help support our national presence. We talk to our Managing Director Paul Garrard about its significance, and how the company continues to adapt after 45 years of business.
Cornwall Glass & Glazing are at the sharp end of Cornwall Group. It is our longest serving element of the business, having been established in 1978 as a series of glass trade counters serving private and trade customers across the southwest.
Cornwall Group was formed July 2019, to introduce new focus and agility to distinct operational interests: Cornwall Glass and Glazing, our glazing and retail arm, now sits alongside Cornwall Glass Manufacturing and merchanting business Mackenzie Glass.
Since Cornwall Glass & Glazing is more responsive to the needs of the end user, this has required a different approach to marketing than other elements of our business, with many different avenues needing to be explored.
“We have a very strong brand recognition across Devon and Cornwall for our trade counters, but since we launched our online shop – UK Glass Centre – we have sought new ways to promote our services beyond the southwest,” Cornwall Glass & Glazing’s Managing Director Paul Garrard says.
UK Glass Centre has seen a steady increase in sales since we launched it in 2013, really flourishing during the lockdowns, and reaching much more of the UK than Cornwall Glass & Glazing’s homeland, but without the support of trade counters with showrooms that are available to our customers in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, and Bristol.
Our website’s clean design and layout allows customers to quickly navigate to the products they want, while offering a significant amount of choice. For example, within the textured glass section, 22 different designs are available, which can then be offered with different levels of processing, including polished edges, drilled holes and toughened.
“We are always looking for new marketing opportunities,” Paul says. “We are interested in getting our products and services in front of homeowners in particular who are embarking on building projects.
“We had exhausted most of the Grand Design-style magazines and had limited success. But when we started looking at the self-build titles, we found references to the National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC) in Swindon, which immediately sparked our interest.”
The NSBRC is the UK’s only permanent venue for independent homebuilding advice and support. Established in 2007, and employee-owned since 2014, it has helped almost a quarter of a million visitors build homes or extend and improve existing properties.
Exhibitors take stand space like they would do in familiar exhibitions like the FIT Show or Ecobuild, but they are committed to longer timescales. Stand space is calculated according to a company’s needs, but it doesn’t need to be permanently manned.
“When we visited the NSBRC, we quickly saw that it is the sort of place that would support our marketing campaigns,” Paul says. “And we would be able to have the passive representation without the staffing challenges.”
Cornwall Glass & Glazing chose a modest panelled alcove at the end of a row, giving us plenty of internal and external real estate to promote our products and services, while pointing interested visitors to our UK Glass Centre at www.ukglasscentre.co.uk.
The floor will have a mirror panel temporarily, and over time we will construct a decking area that will showcase toughened laminate, and bespoke sandblast designs.
“There are already companies exhibiting at the NSBRC that use glass in their products, such as windows, doors, balconies and stairwells,” Paul says. “But glass itself is vastly under-represented, and we know from people who visit our showrooms, and who access the UK Glass Centre, that people seek out glass as a building material on a regular basis.
Paul explains that while UK Glass Centre represents a core part of what Cornwall Glass & Glazing does by generating a significant amount of business, the platform has received little new investment recently. So, NSBRC will present new opportunities, while offering new ways to interact with potential customers.
“Ever since we opened our doors in 1978, we have always been about people,” Paul says. “So, this is a great way of developing and nurturing that personal touch beyond our branch network across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Bristol.
“Also, as the group looks to expand north and east, we will need new peripheral meeting spots, and Swindon fits the bill nicely.”
As Paul and our team set up at the NSBRC, other benefits of this new marketing channel began to present themselves.
“It soon became obvious that this exercise was not just about selling glass to customers,” Paul says. “It was also about building our brand, and aligning ourselves with a very successful enterprise where thousands of people go to each year to help realise their dream homes.
“And, we’ve found ourselves talking to the other exhibitors at NSBRC, which is opening up other opportunities to expand our business.
“But fundamentally, I think that by embracing ecommerce, and seeking new marketing opportunities, we remain in touch with consumers’ buying habits, as we have done for the last 45 years.”