When Lumi decided to launch an aluminium version of its ‘frameless’ window that looks similar in every way to its stablemates, some wondered if they were simply going to take sales from the established products. Nothing is that simple with Lumi, says MD Asa McGillian.
“As has so often happened since we launched Lumi in 2015, the market has behaved unpredictably,” said Asa McGillian, MD of the firm that conceived and manufactures Lumi, the extraordinary ‘frameless’ window and door system. When asked how the much-vaunted aluminium framed version of Lumi had been accepted by the market, the results were not as might be expected.
Asa and his team found a surprising response from homeowners: “We sell Lumi, predominantly, through trade partners in the UK and Ireland,” he explained. “And they are reporting that whilst enquiries are substantially up for Lumi with the announcement of the aluminium version, when homeowners are presented with the Lumi portfolio, many switch to Lumi 2, the PVC-U outer framed version we developed for home improvements; and even Lumi 3, the original, ‘passivhaus’ version.”
The Lumi window is unique in that each version is identical at first sight, the quite major differences between Lumi Aluminium, Lumi 2 and Lumi 3, only becoming obvious with closer examination. The contemporary appearance of all Lumi windows and doors, is defined by the external, edge-to-edge glazing that conceals the sub-frame of the window beneath an opaque band that is printed to the reverse of the glass. The window is very distinctive and often favoured by architects and home-owners seeking a more contemporary, individual finish for their projects.
The original Lumi ‘3’, is so called because it is triple glazed as standard. Framing is manufactured using pultruded GRP sections which give the products extraordinary inherent strength and superb thermal performance to passivhaus standards. Lumi 3 windows are over-engineered and aimed squarely at upmarket specifiers, with pricing comparable with high-end architectural aluminium.
The decision to launch Lumi 2 – double glazed of course – came after the firm became used to receiving enquiries for the product from owners of mid-market homes and having them quickly move on when costs were discussed: “The original focus for Lumi was to manufacture a window that was uncompromised in its specification,” explained Asa, “and it is therefore expensive. Our target was design and building professionals and upmarket homeowners. But of course, we reached people at all levels through our marketing and they liked the distinctive design of Lumi and wanted to buy it. So we introduced Lumi 2.”
Designed unequivocally for the home improvement sector, Lumi 2 is double glazed, with outer-frames produced in PVC-U, with the sashes in pultruded GRP. Crucially, it is as easy to handle and install as conventional frames. Sales soared as a result.
The surge in interest for aluminium windows and doors did not escape Asa and his team and Lumi Aluminium was launched in 2020: “We have lost sales in the past for Lumi when people realised that it was not aluminium,” reflected Asa, “which revealed a sort of snobbery in the market. There is no obvious visual difference in Lumi in any material but homeowners and especially architects had this fixation on aluminium…or perhaps against what they perceived as ‘plastic’ windows. In fact, we have received many comments that Lumi should always have been aluminium. And so Lumi Aluminium was born.”
The key question is: has Lumi Aluminium stolen sales from Lumi 2, although perhaps Lumi 3 would be beyond comparison. Asa says that the aluminium version has become the biggest seller, but it has increased sales across the range: “Ironically we have increased sales significantly in Lumi 2 because it looks the same but is less expensive. And for higher end projects we have even swung sales in favour of Lumi 3 when the specification is simply for ‘the best’.
Sales are divided approximately between 50% for Lumi Aluminium and Lumi 2 and 3 divided equally: “Sales overall have surged for Lumi during the past year or so, just as they have for all home improvement products,” said Asa. But the real surprise is Lumi 3, which has an extraordinary average order value of £33,000, with Lumi 2 averaging at £12,500 and aluminium, unsurprisingly between its siblings at around £18,000.”
“Trying to predict the market with a product for which the differences are hidden, yet which has completely different price points, has been incredibly difficult,” admits Asa. “Fortunately, sales have gone the right way for all versions – if nothing else, we know that home owners like the one thing all versions have in common – its looks.”
ISSUE: SEPTEMBER 2021