Parent company of the business, Schlüter-Systems KG, was established in Germany in 1966 by master tiler, Werner Schlüter. Following many years of distribution agreements, the United Kingdom office was the 5th international office opened by the company, following those in Germany, Turkey, Spain and Canada. Schlüter-Systems Ltd was officially incorporated in September 1993 and commenced trading shortly after.
Schlüter-Systems Ltd initially operated out of one unit on the Bardon 22 industrial estate on the outskirts of the town of Coalville. 25 years later, one unit has expanded to three and the workforce numbers over 50 people.
Over the past quarter of a century, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has had a considerable influence on British installation processes for tile and stone. Upon formation of The Tile Association (TTA) in 2000, Schlüter representatives were appointed to the committees. In joining these and a number of other committees and working groups in the years since, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has established itself as a key contributor to the formation of British Standards with relation to the industry. Its foremost innovation has been the introduction of uncoupling membranes as a standard feature to maintain a crack-free covering. The company has also supported the writing of numerous technical documents for TTA and Stone Federation.
In-line with its parent company, Schlüter-Systems Ltd places significant emphasis on training. The company’s commitment to education is summed up in a quote from founder, Werner Schlüter: ‘Our products cannot be sold, they must be understood’. The company takes every available opportunity to educate its key audiences of architects and specifiers, tiling contractors and resellers on its specialism, through running training sessions, attending roadshows and running an extensive programme of networking events. An innovative, award winning e-learning academy programme was also run for a number of years before being superseded by the company’s current arrangements for training.
In 2015, to support an expanded workforce and ambitious plans for future development, the company undertook its most extensive office refurbishment to-date. This resulted in the 3480m2 premises standing today, with a dedicated training facility – the Schlüter-Systems Education Centre (SSEC). The SSEC consists of smart seminar rooms as well as large practical areas with dedicated workstations. It now plays host to twice-weekly training sessions, as well as a variety of other events supporting the business, local initiatives and national associations.
During its time in business, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has been influential in setting up and defining the syllabus for tiling NVQs. The company also acted early in comparison to industry competitors with regard to the creation of RIBA Approved CPDs, which provide essential learning for architects. The first, covering the topic of uncoupling and movement joints, debuted the products concerned into the RIBA Approved CPD programme. In an updated form, this CPD is now part of a growing suite that address key specification areas.
A trail of innovations characterises Schlüter-Systems Ltd and its parent company. The business carries a number of highly acclaimed products, including:
- Schlüter®-DITRA 25 – The original uncoupling membrane, tried and trusted for over 30 years to produce crack-free tile and stone installations
- Schlüter®-BEKOTEC – a modular system allowing for the construction of lighter, thinner, deformation-free screeds. With the addition of heating pipes, the system becomes wet underfloor heating system, Schlüter®-BEKOTEC-THERM.
- Schlüter®-DITRA-HEAT-E – an electric underfloor heating system with integrated uncoupling capabilities, preventing cracks and minimising floor height build-up.
- Schlüter®-SCHIENE – the first tiling protection profile
- Schlüter®-KERDI-BOARD – the first cement-free backerboard
- Schlüter®-DILEX – the first maintenance-free movement joint profile
Various products carried by Schlüter-Systems Ltd have been recognised by industry magazines and associations over the years. The Schlüter and Ü campaign, initiated to create a community of tilers and allied traders, claimed a runner-up spot as finalists in Best Use of Advertising at the Construction Marketing Awards (CMA) 2016, losing out to Battersea Power Station – a project that Schlüter-Systems is coincidentally specified within. In the same year, the company was shortlisted for the Bupa Wellbeing at Work Award, part of Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards, for its initiative to improve work-life balance and aid employees in improving their mental and physical health.
2017 saw the opening of two showrooms for Schlüter-Systems Ltd – partnership showroom 45-49 Leather Lane in the architectural heartland of Clerkenwell, London, and The Application Gallery in-house at its Coalville headquarters. These facilities showcase the company’s products within their typical places of use and allow for a better understanding of their roles in protecting tile and stone installations.
45-49 Leather Lane, produced in conjunction with Pentagon Tiles and Ardex, represented the foundation of the first London hub for Schlüter-Systems – an important development for a company that is regularly specified into prestigious projects across the capital.
The Application Gallery is a key point of interest for many visitors to Schlüter-Systems’ headquarters. It consists of seven different pods representing different ideas for bathroom and kitchen installations, plus a preparation pod exposing a bathroom underlay constructed from the company’s waterproof tile backerboard, Schlüter®-KERDI-BOARD. The Application Gallery is also home to a museum dedicated to the history of ceramic tile production in the local area; unbeknown to the company at the time the UK office was established, links to the tile and stone industry in Coalville pre-date Schlüter-Systems Ltd by over 160 years. The museum was created to celebrate and showcase this and is based around nine examples of antique tiles that originated in the local area.
The headquarters of Schlüter-Systems Ltd, including the Application Gallery, are the focus of a new Google 360 Virtual Tour released by the company in August 2018. Prospective customers can now tour the impressive premises, designed by Lewis & Hickey, which contain a plethora of Schlüter-Systems’ products both installed and in sample form. The tour can be viewed in a standard digital format and also in VR, courtesy of specially-branded Google Cardboard headsets. Visit www.exploreschluter.co.uk for more details.
“During our first 25 years, we have cultivated a reputation not only for quality and reliability, but also for educating customers as to best practice in the use of tile and stone”, says Joachim Backes, Managing Director of Schlüter-Systems Ltd “I am delighted to be at the helm as we celebrate our silver anniversary and am confident that this achievement will pave the way for many more milestones to come”.