In the 1980s Polypipe’s offer was largely a basic product offer of discrete lengths of pipe and fittings sold through distribution, which over the years has become commoditised and more difficult to differentiate. Adoption of kite-marks 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-90s, 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, 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 at a variety of 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, amongst many other parameters.
Understanding the detailed characteristics and complexity of the individual projects requires Polypipe to work closely with the customers’ design engineers to understand these problems, in order to be in a position to propose an appropriate engineered solution. Working closely with end customers in this way helps to generate pull-through demand for Polypipe’s solutions through the distribution channel.
Today, 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.
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.