Home Features INDUSTRY INTERVIEW: Jean-Michel Desmoutier from Siniat

A year after being acquired by Belgium-based Etex Group Lafarge Plasterboard got the paint brush out in the final quarter of 2012 and revealed its new identity. Under the new brand Siniat it intends to drive forward and develop. UK managing director Jean-Michel Desmoutier outlined where Siniat is heading.

“When we were acquired by Etex a straight forward option would have been to adopt GTEC as a name but we went for something bold,” says Jean-Michel Desmoutier and they certainly have.

Pink is not necessarily the colour you would expect from a construction product manufacturer but for Siniat it is a clear demonstration of the ‘bold’ intent in creating something new.

So is there more than a new look at the former Lafarge Plasterboard business?

Jean-Michel Desmoutier said: “If there is a change at Siniat it’s that we’re (now) following the installer and as long as it is dry construction there are no taboos. We are developing ideas and looking less at volume and more at value in plasterboard and around adjacent systems. To do that we talk to contractors and we’ve gone outside the traditional comfort zone of interiors. We’re now looking at the outside layer more and more.”

There is clear synergy with other Etex businesses and while they will work together  Siniat has a zest for exploring new ideas, so long as they are around the reality of dry construction techniques.

Mr Desmoutier explained that there are a number of initiatives that Siniat’s new team is pursuing with contractors: “Our system selector (on the new website) is aimed more at helping contractors select the most appropriate system. Architects define the performance but the installer determines the solution to achieve the performance.

“We have a new range of screws that are simpler and help contractors to do a more competitive job. We believe we have a range that is quality and reliable. The new screws are aimed at theUKand are geared to work with all our boards. We want Siniat to be a product of choice because it does it better.

“We will continue the outside boards, it’s an area that drywall contractors have grown and will extend more. It makes a lot of sense if we can be with them in the early stages and support them through the life of a contract.”

Mr Desmoutier is guarded about moves into the steel frame system market: “Today we don’t have an SFS offer but we’re considering the best way to enter the market more strongly. To maximise the advantages we’ll probably need a metal system and then the next question is insulation. We are not an insulation manufacturer but we’ll suggest the best possible and looking ahead probably the best insulation system will be a combination of systems.”

Siniat employs around 400 people in theUKand has two production plants,Bristoland Ferrybridge, with a total capacity of around 80 million square metres of board.

“In theUKwe have ample capacity to service the market in the foreseeable future with a full range of boards. In the past we’ve been able to service some tricky projects with good technical solutions but we did not have the confidence to be able to deliver on time.

“We’ve recruited new people and from 2013 we will have a dedicated workforce to look after contractors and specialist distributors.  A third dimension to the customer facing team will be very skilled technically able engineers to provide specialist support. We’re still a regional organisation.”

So where do the existing product lines stand in the new Siniat?

“We’re very proud of the GTEC brand and the feedback from customers was they see GTEC has a lot of equity and is valued by customers. LaDura and Megadeco have been great successes.

“We’re just finishing offSouthmeadHospitalwith Megadeco. We’ve been working on it since 2007 with the installer, BR Hogson, and helped to demonstrate a solution that interested the client from day one.

“Early involvement was important. We purchased the steel a year in advance, approximately 450 tonnes, to secure the price for that contract. We don’t do it on a regular basis but this was necessary to give price certainty.

“As to the future our think thermal campaign has focused on a market where we have (energy efficient) solutions. By getting more involved earlier in projects we can suggest options that can influence BREEAM ratings.

“We’ve also almost eliminated waste in production and recycle everything we can. We want to do more so we have a technical battle to use more waste. We offer a recycling service to customers and all materials are responsible sourced.

“We try and measure waste coming back to us and we’re surprised at how little comes back..! TheUKis way ahead of the continent (in waste and recycling) and we’ve reached a plateau but there is more to do. The quality of the job does influence the amount of waste but projects are generating less waste than before.”

There is a freshness and exciting edge to Siniat that Jean-Michel Desmoutier, and new owners Etex, seem keen to unleash. The future is bright and not just the new corporate colour.