There seems to a lot of confusion about Zenith, which is a little strange considering it has a history almost as long as its main competitors, Anglian and Everest.
Established in 1969 in Norwich, now one of the centres of the UK’s double glazing sector, Zenith manufactures around 200,000 windows and doors for over 30,000 customers, making it the third-largest company in the industry.
After remaining independent for more than two decades, the firm became part of the Bowater Group in 1982, eventually operating in the group’s Home Improvement division. Staybrite Windows, founded in 1974, joinedZenith within Bowater in 1987.
A period of strong growth followed, with the company opening its first manufacturing plant in Norwich in 1984, with a second added in 1995. The company then, like many others, diversified from windows into conservatories, roofing and related products, all while its parent group enjoyed solid sales in its new build and public sector division.
The complications over Zenith’s ownership began in 2008, with the rapidly worsening economic climate hitting the double glazing sector hard, leading Bowater Home Improvements to enter administration. Accountants Grant Thornton, which oversaw the sale, put the company’s plight down to ‘intense competition’ and a fall-off in orders as household incomes came under pressure.
Bowater’s head office and factory in Norwich, 30 sales offices and six installation centres shut immediately, while three divisional offices, 30 other sales offices, and six installation sites were sold to the new owner, Weatherseal Home Improvement.
Weatherseal, with an annual turnover of approximately £500 million, is part of Latium Holdings, the group owned by double glazing entrepreneur Brian Kennedy. Latium also owns Everest and Ultraframe plc.
Since the takeover, Zenith has been relatively stable, but it’s shifting ownership has meant that it has installed under the names Staybrite Windows, Zenith Conservatories, Zenith Staybrite, Bowater Windows, Bowater Home Improvements Ltd all within the last decade or so – a situation that’s pretty confusing at the best of times.
As for the future, Zenith have been pretty quiet with regards to its plans. At the time of its acquisition Weatherseal said the firm will continue to trade under the name Zenith Staybrite, with the company holding a strong order book going forward. Investments were predicted, particularly in sales and customer care, but what impact these will have, only time will tell.
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