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Life begins at 50 for Uniline

Uniline Australia CEO Gilbert Da Silva has a clear vision of the way forward for the company, which arguably experienced what he describes as a watershed year in its history in 2014.

Last year saw the company start to implement its vision of being: “The preferred internal and external window covering systems supplier to the Australasian and selected Global Markets.”

He points out that Uniline has embraced the major challenges affecting the market including cheap imports, a fluctuating Australian dollar, and a tough economic climate, and has for some time been “working hard to structure and adapt the business to enable a sustainable and profitable future.”

“In fact, this strategy really began six years ago, when Uniline had a vision to establish, in partnership with Elite Weaving (Uniline’s long term, base fabric supplier) a world class, international fabric manufacturing footprint, with a 15,000 square metre facility in Asia now producing high quality fabrics for customers all over the globe.”

“Many of these products are already available in Australia and many more are to be released in the coming months into the Australasian and Asia Pacific markets. We have continued our investment and commitment to innovation, research and development, employing more engineers, more product managers, and a new marketing department, including an in-house graphics department.”

Thanks to these developments, Uniline has been able to launch to the market world class products, he confirms, including its Proteger and Proteger Extreme Awning System and new Cassia Internal Roller Blind system, offering customers more than 10 configurations in one roller blind system.

“Uniline also acquired the best shutter range in the Australian market, offering a full range of internal and external shutters, in aluminium, PVC and timber, with world class lead times and available in an Australian made or fully imported offer, which has been very well accepted in the market. We also launched the long awaited Dawn three metre wide blockout fabric, arguably the highest quality blockout in the world; it’s available in 40 colours and has been a real success.”

“As part of an ongoing period of restructuring and consolidation to reduce excess costs, this year, Uniline will continue to downscale our Yatala footprint and reduce our Australian manufacturing capability to accommodate both our domestic and international strategy,” he adds. “But, it must be stressed that Uniline is still very much committed to manufacturing in Australia, when and wherever it is possible. In support of this philosophy, a number of Uniline’s key manufacturing processes will continue at our Yatala site in Queensland.”

The coming months will also see the launch of an aggressive ‘Uniline 100% Licensee Program’ that will see Uniline’s complete hardware systems, international fabric range and shutters become an integral part of its customers’ product offer. “As part of this, we will work hard to implement our “Service Proposition” into the market, to support all market segments: wholesaler manufacturers, retail manufacturers and retailers.”

A key objective for the company is to re-launch Uniline’s quality brand of products to the market, through its customers, to reach the end users, he says. As part of the re-launch the company will offer a *10 Year Warranty on select 100% Uniline products and fabrics supplied to end users, through its accredited customers.

“One thing is still very clear to us. Uniline is a major supplier to the Australian and New Zealand window furnishings market and we are still one of the few companies in the industry that can supply complete quality systems and support to all segments of the market.”
The Uniline offer includes:

• Components, fabrics and technical support to wholesale manufacturers.
• Components, fabrics, finished product (via its network of wholesale fabricators or Uniline) and technical support to retail manufacturers.
• Finished product to Uniline’s retail customers (via its network of wholesale fabricators or Uniline).
• Installation training to all installers to ensure problem free installation.
• Marketing material and support for Partners to assist in selling and obtaining leads for Uniline brands.

“In the Australian and New Zealand market, we will continue to develop a network of Uniline 100% Partners across Australia and New Zealand to drive Uniline Systems and Fabrics through the distribution channel to the end user. Meanwhile in the global market Uniline will take control by establishing Uniline International in Asia to manufacture and source Uniline’s systems off shore with a view to developing Global Markets into the future.”

In 2015 Uniline will also launch a number of Customer Support Programs to re-brand Uniline, making it easier for customers to deal with Uniline. Some of these programs include:

1. The launch of a dedicated Uniline National Customer Service Team – designed to further facilitate working with Uniline.
2. The introduction of inventory management systems with Uniline customers, to provide supply certainty during peak demand periods throughout the season.
3. The launch of an interactive website and the re-positioning of Uniline in the local and international markets.
4. The launch of a new Customer Self Service portal, allowing customers to directly access the Uniline system and order products on-line, thus reducing processing times and errors.
5. The launch of the Customer Administration portal, allowing customers to access their invoicing and statements directly on-line.

These developments will ensure Uniline continues to provide the right offer to its customers and foster the right growth conditions for the Uniline business. “Internationalising Uniline is also critical as world markets become easier to access,” he says.

“By the end of 2015, Uniline will be a significantly more efficient company, enabling us to compete more effectively in the market. We will continue to push hard in implementing our vision.”

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