The Story of Louvretie U.K. Ltd
Several years ago, I made a visit to my grandparents house, and a local blind fitter was putting the finishing touches to a new vertical blind at the entrance to a their conservatory. As the fitter was putting away his tools a gust of wind came through the door and blew the new blinds against the doors. The fitter was asked if there was anything available to temporarily hold them to the wall, to which he suggested using a hook and string tie similar to those used with curtains. This was clearly not a good solution and the idea came to produce a device that would work without damaging the blinds.
A Vertical Challenge
From the first pair of metal tiebacks made in the garage, a small batch was then manufactured as an engineering project at college.
It became clear that a more suitable material was required and that led to the design of the products available today. “ It is a continually rewarding learning curve”, David Explains. “From literally a sketch on a notepad, to learning about Intellectual property, manufacturing, marketing, and all aspects of business all be it on a small scale, I feel very fortunate to have seen the project get off the ground, and I feel proud to have done my best with the resources I had and not rushed things, then also to have had the chance to work with some very professional and experienced people”.
“An initial loan taken on my property enabled me to take a calculated risk that resulted in the production of the first product, stock and the grant of a patent. After several years of trialing different materials for strength on the blinds in our home and the timely publishing of my first patent placed me in a reasonable position to contact retailers and manufacturers of blinds throughout the U.K.”
” louvretie U.K. ltd was registered in October 2008 and the first website produced, the quest then began to improve the product so that it could be used by any vertical blind, in any setting, anywhere in the world. “.
1. Why not pitch on Dragon’s Den?
It could certainly be very useful to attract the interest of the Dragons, and who knows one day it may happen, I would still probably have to convince the big players in the vertical market to secure any real investment, but we have 2 granted U.K. patents and a third on file in the U.K. and United states, as well as examples of companies that have bought louvreties and re-order, proving there is a healthy market out there and it is increasing.
2. There are millions of vertical sold each year in the U.K. alone, how many could use the louvretie?
“We have produced the first commercial tie back specifically designed for vertical blinds. There have been some issues along the way that may have prevented the product becoming more widely used by blind fitters, more abundantly stocked by retailers or offered in bulk by manufacturers throughout the trade. It is however still a new product and our improvements have hopefully opened up much more of the market. Public response is always positive and we have received some genuine reviews from customers all over the country which to be honest kept the project going in the early stages. I know it works and is useful, but its so difficult to ascertain the market potential, part of that is due to distribution, marketing and promotion, but up to now Ive only had the resources to manufacture and patent the products. Feedback from trade customers suggest that the product could be used with up-to as many as 70 percent of the vertical blinds they install. It’s a product designed for the customer, the end user.
3. What are the issues the product has faced through its development?
“The initial product wasn’t strong enough in the most common and cheaper forms of plastic, ABS and PC. Strength measured here in terms of the flexibility of the holding arm behind which the blinds produced a displacement. Substances were added ensuring U.V. resistance and that took quite a while to rectify and test on blinds in situ. There are also different sizes of blinds with different quantities of panels and blinds that are top fixed or face fixed, so providing products for each of these variables or working on a more universal tieback has been the main issue. I feel that now we have different products to fit any blind anywhere, and soon one that will fit 95% . The other issues are more subjective, conceptual and aesthetic. In order to obtain a patent i had to reshape my concept. To label the product a “tieback” simply wasn’t acceptable as the world’s first tieback had been granted for curtains in the 18th Century, the difference here is in the relationship between how the louvretie is fixed in different ways and performs different functions, such as holding the pulley cords and fixing in face fix or top fix applications. The product acts more as a holder or retaining device and that is what i’ve concentrated on”.
Personal choice however is exactly personal choice. Some people have the blinds closed all day long, some only tilt them. But in a public place for example an office or a school, it may be a better idea to have them open and held back until they are needed, it would certainly save cash. Some of the excellent choice of fabric on offer now enable verticals to act as an insulator and save heat costs but just like curtains you wouldn’t have them closed all day and would want to keep them clean and tidy if it was a nice day and all the windows were open. So i guess its about choice and thats surely in keeping with this industry.
Future aims include continuing to increase the products and services we offer and make the products common part of the vertical blind setting. (extracts taken from Blinds and Shutters, issue 1, 2011, Turret Group Ltd)
Our products have appeared in the leading industry magazine Blinds and Shutters, as well as Interior Design Today, and in 2009, it was awarded a place as a showcase invention at the Ideas Northwest Expo.
- GB2432510 : A Detachable Louvre/Vertical Blind Holder. (Filed 21.3.2006) Certificate 25 November 2009
- GB2466004 : A Vertical/Louvre Blind Holder and Cord Safety System. (Filed 5.12.2008) Certificate 5 November 2010.
- US2012048486 and GB2483128: Adjustable curtain, blind (Filed 21.3.2006) Certificate 29.02.2012 April 2011