Tiling systems manufacturer celebrates 25 years in the UK

THIS September represents a milestone anniversary for Leicestershire-based manufacturer Schlüter-Systems, which provides solutions to protect and finish tile and natural stone.

Parent company of the business, Schlüter-Systems KG, was established in Germany in 1966 by master tiler, Werner Schlüter. Following many years of distribution agreements, the United Kingdom office was the 5th international office opened by the company, following those in Germany, Turkey, Spain and Canada. Schlüter-Systems was officially incorporated in September 1993 and commenced trading shortly after.

Schlüter-Systems initially operated out of one unit on the Bardon 22 industrial estate on the outskirts of the town of Coalville. 25 years later, one unit has expanded to three and the workforce numbers over 50 people.

Schlüter-Systems says it has had a considerable influence on British installation processes for tile and stone. Upon formation of The Tile Association (TTA) in 2000, Schlüter representatives were appointed to the committees. In joining these and other committees and working groups in the years since, Schlüter-Systems has reportedly established itself as a key contributor to the formation of British Standards with relation to the industry. It says its foremost innovation has been the introduction of uncoupling membranes as a standard feature to maintain a crack-free covering. The company has also supported the writing of numerous technical documents for TTA and Stone Federation.

In-line with its parent company, Schlüter-Systems places significant emphasis on training. The company’s commitment to education is summed up in a quote from founder, Werner Schlüter: ‘Our products cannot be sold, they must be understood’. The company takes every available opportunity to educate its key audiences of architects and specifiers, tiling contractors and resellers on its specialism, through running training sessions, attending roadshows and running an extensive programme of networking events.

In 2015, to support an expanded workforce and ambitious plans for future development, the company undertook its most extensive office refurbishment to-date. This resulted in the 3480m2 premises standing today, with a dedicated training facility, the Schlüter-Systems education centre (SSEC). The SSEC consists of smart seminar rooms as well as large practical areas with dedicated workstations. It now plays host to twice-weekly training sessions, as well as a variety of other events supporting the business, local initiatives and national associations.

During its time in business, Schlüter-Systems has been influential in setting up and defining the syllabus for tiling NVQs. The company also says it acted early in comparison to industry competitors with regard to the creation of RIBA-approved CPDs, which provide essential learning for architects.

Various products carried by Schlüter-Systems have been recognised by industry magazines and associations over the years. The Schlüter and Ü campaign, initiated to create a community of tilers and allied traders, claimed a runner-up spot as finalists in Best Use of Advertising at the Construction Marketing Awards 2016. In the same year, the company was shortlisted for the Bupa Wellbeing at Work Award.

2017 saw the opening of two showrooms for Schlüter-Systems – partnership showroom 45-49 Leather Lane in the architectural heartland of Clerkenwell, London, and The Application Gallery in-house at its Coalville headquarters. These facilities showcase the company’s products within their typical places of use and allow for a better understanding of their roles in protecting tile and stone installations.

The headquarters of Schlüter-Systems, including the Application Gallery, are the focus of a new Google 360 Virtual Tour released by the company in August 2018. Prospective customers can now tour the premises, designed by Lewis & Hickey, which contain a plethora of Schlüter-Systems’ products both installed and in sample form. The tour can be viewed in a standard digital format and also in VR, courtesy of specially-branded Google Cardboard headsets. Visit www.exploreschluter.co.uk for more details.

‘During our first 25 years, we have cultivated a reputation not only for quality and reliability, but also for educating customers as to best practice in the use of tile and stone’, says Joachim Backes, Managing Director of Schlüter-Systems ‘I am delighted to be at the helm as we celebrate our silver anniversary and am confident that this achievement will pave the way for many more milestones to come’.