Table of Contents
The annual GLEE event took place at Birmingham's NEC from September 21st-23rd and many of the leading paving manufacturers had display areas within the Landscaping section, using the event to launch their new products for 2004 and to make important announcements on recent developments and acquisitions.
The dapper Alan Smith, top bod at Bradstone , was particularly pleased with the extended range of Carpet Stone products. Bradstone has held the licence to Carpet Stones for several years, but has now been able to develop the range in exciting new formats, and, with increased production, Alan hopes to drive down the price to make Carpet Stones competitive with other, premium CBPs, such as the Woburn range from their sister company Charcon .
Also new from Bradstone are a wet cast Travertine-effect flag/slab range, and a re-vamped Sun Circle.
Brett made their debut at GLEE and were showing off the new range of Natural Travertine in a delicate shade of pink, new CBP Cobbles and a cracking new product featuring granite setts laid on a mat backing.
They also let it be known that they were in “advanced negotiations” to acquire La Farge's CBP facility at Barrow-on-Soar in the East Midlands. Mike Woodcock, Brett's Marketing Director revealed that
They were also showing of their revised and updated website .
Marshall's also made their first appearance at the event, and made a big show of their new Volcano range, They were particularly pleased to win the Best New Product commendation for their Living Lights system, which allow homeowners to bring a touch of the disco into their patios.
Their heavily manned display area (I wondered if there was some sort of rugby match planned between Marshalls and Bradstone, as they each had a first XV on duty at all times!) also featured a new, darker version of the granite aggregate Argent Flag, in both polished and shot-blasted finishes.
Other new products for 2004 include a 4-in-1 kerb and a lightly-tumbled dished channel to complement the Drivesett Range, along with an Octant (8-sided shape) in Excel CBPs and also in the ever-popular Saxon range of flags. Firedstone Paving is a new mid-price range of stone-effect flags that is said to replicate flame-textured flags, and there's also to be a circle feature in Honeydew-coloured Chancery Flags.
Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the hall, Marshall's alter-ego, Stonemarket had a swathe of new products to show off. Tom Poole, the ever-charming MD of Stonemarket, was particularly pleased with the new Millstone Walling range, and the Elegance setts, which bring a whole new look to CBPs for the residential market.
Stone & Style were another new face at the show, and used the show to introduce 5 new colour blends to their Rockstone range of washed exposed aggregate pavers, and 4 new colours to their Mediterranean Rustic range of distressed pavers.
CEO Ludo Panis believes the new colours complement the existing palettes and will offer designers and architects looking for a fresh look even more choice than before. He feels that Britain and Ireland are looking for something new in the CBP market, a change from the tired old "Brindle & Charcoal" look, and the innovative pavers from Stone & Style could be just the thing to re-inspire the market.
The Rockstone range now boasts 15 colours in two palettes, the Classic Palette, featuring 7 neutral colours ranging from the pale cream of Ivory through the granite-like Silver-Grey to dark Charcoal, while the Designer Palette features 4 shades of red, 3 shades of buff and a brown multi.
The Mediterranean Rustic pavers are manufactured using a white cement and feature stunningly bright, light, summery colours, which have really caught the imagination of Garden Designers and Landscape Architects throughout the country.
And the entertaining father-and-son team of Paul and John Clifford from Westminster Stone revelled in showing visitors around their stunning display of old favourites and new products on what must surely have been the most visually attractive and cleverly-themed display in the Hall.
John is really chuffed with their new Wildlife Table, carefully crafted in reconstituted stone, with a subtle hollow to hold a shallow pool of water that makes the ideal pit-stop for visiting birds, mammals and the occasional amphibian too! There's also the new Flagstone Trough, which makes a superb raised planter or could even be used as an original waterfeature.
Moving away from the world of concrete paving, Simeon Osen from Ronacrete , a popular contributor to the Brew Cabin Discussion Forum and good friend to the site, was extolling the virtues of the Fast Grip Resin Bonding system from his Display Area and reckons they should pick up some interesting contracts from the contacts they made over the three days.
Two companies based in the Lake District brought a touch of northern neighbourliness to the show by displaying on adjacent stands.
Kirkstone , the well-respected source of Westmorland Green Slate, showed off their range of products from slate chippings, polished stone for cladding and floors, riven slate for paving and impressive boulders for landscaping, while Penrith-based Ken Hope Recycling positively beamed with their award for innovation with their range of recycled aggregates, including a 14mm gravel, a selection of rounded pebbles and cobbles, and a very interesting Class M sand suitable for block laying.
Other aggregates displays from Derbyshire Aggregates, Cem-Pak, Ennstone Breedon amongst others featured an ever-expanding range of sands, gravels, pebbles and boulders.
Border Stone , yet another arm of the Aggregate Industries Empire, had a large central display featuring a selection of their bagged aggregates and several very large rocks arranged into damned impressive features.
Stone paving was not as prominent as in previous years, for some reason. Global Stone from Colchester had a cracking-looking stand, as ever, and Heavyside Manager Julian Wood was especially proud of their new range of Travertine which was attracting a lot of attention.
Rick from Midland Slate & Tile was as busy as ever with his comprehensive array of imported stone which he supplies to a host of distributors throughout the nation, and Mark Law's new Bolton-based company, Quarrystone, announced their intentions by sponsoring the BMJ R'n'R area. Flying the flag for native British stone was Keighley's George Farrar who put on a great display of their tumbled yorkstone setts.
Overall, several exhibitors felt that the show wasn't as busy as last year, but thought that might be because the Hall was so much bigger, forcing visitors to trudge further than ever in the search for enlightenment. However, everyone was pleased with the quality of visitor: plenty of influential buyers, with a generous sprinkling of designers, architects and contractors. It was good to see some new faces in amongst the usual suspects from the world of paving manufacturing, but some of those companies that decided to give it a miss this year must be kicking themselves at the business they've undoubtedly lost.
You may be a first time visitor or someone familiar with the old website which served well for 20-odd years but a new decade needs a more responsive design and simpler navigation. There is still a lot of work to do with this new site, so please bear with me while I get images updated and the new content coralled into the right place.
If you spot any glaring errors or cock-ups, please let me know...contact form