Professional Builder continues to reveal the rich history behind the Redland brand.
From the explosive boom and growth of the 1960s, the 1970s were a period of consolidation for Redland, with a minor corporate shift marked in 1976 with a name change to Redland Roof Tiles, highlighting the specificity of its offer from the broader Redland Tiles moniker of 1946.
Innovation in this decade was reflected in both service and product systems, both in 1978. First was the company’s REDIES computer-based roof estimating service. In an age when smart phones are more powerful than the on-board computing of the Apollo programme’s rockets, the importance of such a pioneering development on the roofing sector cannot be underestimated and heralded the future of online functionality, currently represented by the company’s market-leading SpecMaster and FixMaster systems.
1978 was the year that saw the launch of the UK’s first dry ridge system. A natural and obvious counterpart to Redland’s dry verge system launched in 1966, dry ridge meant the company could offer specifiers, developers and contractors mechanically fixed systems across the whole roof.
In 1981, the roofing industry’s first dedicated training centre was opened in South Cerney, Gloucestershire. Now in its fourth decade of operation, the BMI Academy – as the National Training Centre is now known – employs three full-time dedicated pitched and flat roofing trainers and delivers approximately 60 hours of training every week. Since opening, over 45,000 delegates have been trained at the centre – with 2,000 visitors being hosted in 2018 alone.
1984 saw two developments – an acquisition and an opening – that truly centred Redland at the heart of UK tile manufacture. First, it acquired the Rosemary Brick & Tile Company. This meant the company extended its pedigree beyond 1919 back to 1837. It also meant that the UK’s most popular and durable clay tile became part of its portfolio. Yet if that wasn’t enough, the company made a huge stride this same year with the opening of its Rassau plant to manufacture Cambrian Slate – the UK’s first interlocking tile made from reconstituted waste slate.
Comprising over 60 per cent recycled Welsh slate, Cambrian is designed with a unique three-point fixing, making it secure on even the most exposed sites. Manufactured to be lightweight with a thin leading edge and surface patterning taken from impressions of real natural slates, and proven on pitches as low as 15°, Cambrian is suitable for a wide range of projects.
The 1990s were far more striking for the group in terms of highlights than the previous ten years. The decade started out with the launch of Dovetail, a separate universal roofing components business, while Anderson, along with Callenders and Vulcanite, was acquired by Icopal to create a leading UK waterproofing business. The year was capped by the opening of a new wind tunnel, built at a cost of £2 million, in Horsham.
This strong start was matched by back-to-back milestones in the following two years when, first, Cambrian Slate won the prestigious Queens Award for Technological Achievement and, second, the company acquired Steetley Brick & Tile – meaning UK brick stocks in 1993, when Steetley’s were added to Redland’s own, totalled a whopping 110,000,000! Three years later, the combined Redland/ Steetley business was sold for £155m.
Following on from where REDIES led, SpecMaster – an NBS-based roof specification service – and the DesignMaster CAD package were introduced in 1994.
1996 saw the establishment, by Icopal, of the Intelligent Membrane Association (IMA), designed to improve flat roofing industry standards and give building owners and architects access to a network of high-quality roofing contractors. All members have a quality track record in roofing projects of all sizes and are committed to ongoing training. A not-for-profit organisation, the IMA’s members not only use products from across the BMI range, but also have exclusive access to systems that require the greatest installation skill and therefore carry Icopal’s most comprehensive guarantees.
Whereas, to 1997, the Redland story had been one of frequent strategic acquisitions, this year saw a role reversal with the company being acquired by Lafarge, who went on to acquire 100 per cent of Braas – the German company Redland itself had invested in in 1954.