Visiting Häfele UK’s HQ

Visiting Häfele UK’s HQ

The Professional Builder team was recently invited to Häfele UK’s Rugby HQ for a press Innovation Day. Here, Edward Kelly reports on some of the innovations on show

To start the day off, Managing Director of Häfele UK, Richard Curtis, gave the attendees an insightful introduction to the company. His presentation began with the creation of Häfele one hundred years ago, which remains a privately and family-owned company to this day. The company’s 25,000 strong catalogue ranges from its inhouse manufactured lighting and cabinet storage solutions to tools from big brands like Festool. Its Häfele manufactured products are offered through its website (which boasts a speedy next day delivery service), and, increasingly, builders’ merchants.

Xtra hand  

Now that Häfele had told us all about the background of the company, it was time to see some of those innovations the day promised.

The Xtra hand is a hands-free dust extraction tool for drilling, cutting and grinding. It fits onto the end of most flexible hose hoovers (yes, even trusty Henry) and the team gave us a live demo of it in action, encouraging everyone in attendance to have a go sticking it to various surfaces around the room. It will work on most you can think of and can even stick to the ceiling.

Interestingly, this clever little tool will be something some BBC One viewers are already familiar with. Carpenter and cabinet maker (and also inventor) Alan Gillett took it to Dragon’s Den earlier this year. After initially accepting a deal from Peter Jones, he later turned it down and went to Häfele instead, who refined the product with him and secured exclusive distribution rights.

Axilo plinth adjuster  

The Adjusting Tool for Axilo 78 plinth feet was something else we got hands on with. The extendable tool has a twisting handle on one end and a hinged clamp head on the other. This allows you to adjust the company’s spring-loaded plinth feet to the desired height without having to lie down and reach your arm to the back of the wall. Playing around with the tool on some cabinets, we could see how much easier the job would be. As a bonus, it’s compatible with electric screwdrivers too – just to make things that bit quicker!

Customer focus

The cabinets we tried out the plinth adjuster on were in the Häfele Academy. This was filled with all different kinds of workbenches, kitchens and bathrooms. The team explained that prospective installers will approach the company for training on specific products. This is all bespoke and the room is apparently in a constant state of change with the workbenches suiting the needs of the current session. This customer focus extends to the Service + section of the company, which provides a mass of pre and post-sales support.

Plug and Play

Aware of time constraints in this busy industry, Häfele UK also offers webinars and, specifically for its lighting, a training van which can be driven to customers. In fact, Jamie McLaren Business Development Manager Lighting, told us he’d already driven this travelling van of tricks the breadth of the UK, from Scotland to the south west. I imagine Jamie appreciated that this time the customers had driven to him!  

The van itself almost looks like a living room with small modular cupboards, a TV and even a bench to sit on. Jamie tasked us with connecting up a Häfele own brand light. As we’re not exactly professional electricians, we were a little sceptical at how this was going to play out. Thankfully though, handy colour coded tips to the wires make the plug and play system pretty idiot proof and prevent any voltage mixing. The system is used on a range of the company’s lighting and importantly can be installed without the need for an electrician.


Flex Lighting and Modu3  

Although everything we saw at Häfele UK was impressive, the stars of the day came at the end. Here, in the R&D room, Tom Fletcher, Product, Innovation & Development Manager talked us through Modu3, a customisable and modular shelving system and Flex Lighting, a bendable silicon-based ribbon.

Tom explained how Modu3 began just as a simple shelving unit with Häfele manufactured profiles. From this he had added grooves, first to help fix the shelves in place, but then, by reverse engineering them to the outside, to make the perfect push fit space for the company’s IP44 waterproof Flex Lighting.

Tom revealed the natural evolution of this next, which was to fit this lighting elsewhere in the kitchen using those same profiles cut to different shapes. Almost like a magician’s final trick, Tom clicked an app on his phone and the whole R&D mock kitchen lit up with Flex Lighting under worktops, above plinth boards and even above splashboards. Because Häfele makes these profiles and the lighting themselves, it can customise them as much as it wants and provide customers with a full lighting system without blind spots which, because of this plug and play feature, doesn’t require any electricians.

Summing up

The lighting and Modu3 system were a great way to end the day at Häfele UK HQ. With them, and everything else on show, the company and its R&D team certainly lived up to the namesake of the day. I, for one, look forward to seeing what they come up with next!  

For more information on Häfele visit Furniture fittings, architectural hardware, electronic locking systems – Häfele (

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