In the 1980s Polypipe’s offer was largely a basic product offer of discrete lengths of pipe and fittings sold through the merchant distribution channel, which over the years has become commoditised and more difficult to differentiate. Adoption of kitemarks and continued investment in manufacturing efficiency over this time has retained a competitive position for these products. Further investment in new products and differentiated features continues today, which helps support the Polypipe brand as the leading UK manufacturer of these discrete products.
In the mid-1990s, this proposition evolved to combine these discrete products into performance systems, such as pushfit plumbing, for example. Through developing an intimate understanding of the requirements of end customers and installers – plumbers in this case – in 1998 Polypipe launched the very successful range of non-demountable grey fittings, Polyplumb, which has since become an industry standard system offer in the UK.
Later, this evolution continued with large diameter pipe solutions for water attenuation, leading to the development of the Polystorm geocellular range, designed to provide retention, attenuation or infiltration of stormwater runoff at a range of burial depths. Polystorm is suited to deeper burial depths and can accommodate a wide range of traffic loadings, from pedestrianised areas to large HGV parks. As a proposition, it is taken to market as bespoke one-off designs, engineered according to the particular design characteristics for each project, such as soil conditions, flood intensity requirements and flow versus retention requirements, among many other parameters. Working closely with end customers and specifying engineers in this way helps to generate pull-through demand for Polypipe’s solutions through the distribution channel.
This evolution is continuing through the development of smart technologies, to bring together the optimised performance of underfloor heating systems with ventilation systems, for the convenience and comfort of the building occupants. Latterly, with the deployment of Permavoid-based solutions for blue-green roofs for example, Polypipe is introducing effective Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) solutions that incorporate green infrastructure designed to deliver multifunctional benefits such as rooftop amenity and the cooling of urban environments. Throughout this evolution, Polypipe has encountered new competitors, but through its progressive market reach, and managing these activities and manufacturing in-house, Polypipe generates incremental profitability while maintaining commercial competitiveness and market leadership. This collective learning and track record forms the basis of a set of competencies across the Group, which position Polypipe well for future development in the UK and further afield.