Established in 1966 Anglian Windows, now known as Anglian Home Improvements and a subsidiary of Anglian Group, is one of the country’s largest double glazing and home improvement suppliers.
The company was founded in Norwich by George Williams, a local entrepreneur who launched the firm’s first showroom – then a relative novelty in the industry – in Ipswich three years later.
Over the coming decades, Williams built Anglian into a market-leader that employed over 5,000 workers across the country at its peak, fitting over 500,000 products annually and becoming a name synonymous with the double glazing industry.
In 1984 the business was acquired for £30 million by British Electric Traction. This saw the company branch out into other areas – including doors, roofing and conservatories – and lead to its re-branding as Anglian Home Improvements.
However, Anglian’s progress has been far from smooth at times. After years of steady growth, the recession at the tail-end of the 80’s hit the company hard, with a management buyout in 1991 hoping to stabilise the ailing firm. It was an effective step – almost a decade on the London Stock Exchange followed, before the
company was brought back into private hands in 200 by investment group Alchemy Partners.
The next few years saw a solid performance from Anglian, with both sales and profits strong and the company becoming a founder member of the government’s FENSA scheme. However, in late 2007, the worsening economic climate again began to take its toll, with the company losing out from both the stalling construction industry and reduced consumer spending. After closing a manufacturing plant and two depots, it
was taken over the following year by a consortium of banks overwhelmed by its debts.
This lead to a major restructuring as part of a £30 million cost cutting drive. In 2008/09, Anglian shed almost 1,000 staff to bring its workforce down to 2,056 as the recession bit hard, with the firm posting a £7 million operating loss for the year. In January 2010 Williams, still a well-known figure in the industry despite his retirement in 1998, died following a short illness.
However, recent news has been a touch more positive. In October 2010, Anglian reported strong results for the first half the year, with net income rising by 70% despite a fall in revenue.
The figures seemed to mark a turning point for the company, with pre-tax profits climbing to £11.3 million, up from £6.2 million the year before. Many analysts took this to mean the company had avoided the worst of the recession, and is now well positioned to take advantage as the market strengthens in the coming months. Despite the uncertainty surrounding the industry, it seems fair to say that Anglian will continue to be one of the major names in double glazing for quite some time yet.
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