PEW caught up with Paul Dawson, Commercial Director at Niglon, to discuss the history of the company and current industry trends.
When and how was Niglon established?
We can trace our roots back to the 1940s when Stanley Douglas Hinley began working as a manufacturer’s agent, later taking on his son John, and securing premises in Birmingham (Niglon is still proudly based in the Midlands today).
By the 60s we’d adopted the Niglon name and begun establishing a sales team – initially just John who used to sleep in his car when travelling round the country. Simon, the third generation of the Hinley family (and current Managing Director), joined in the late 70s.
We moved to our purpose-built headquarters six years ago, and we’ve also been joined by the fourth generation of Hinleys. We now have 4,500 products spanning eight core categories: circuit protection, wiring accessories, installation essentials, industrial accessories, cable management, lighting control, fixings and tools, and control and automation.
How have increased component costs impacted on the sector?
The costs, particularly associated with shipments coming from abroad, have no doubt risen sharply in the last year or so. Luckily, something we’d already made a decision on was increasing our stock reserves by 30%. That meant we were able to keep supplying products to our customers through the various challenges the electrical sector (and the globe) has faced – whether through Covid, Chinese electricity restrictions, increased shipping times, or Brexit.
Though we couldn’t have known what was to come when we made that investment, it’s definitely stood us in good stead, and meant we could continue operating and retain our team at a time when sadly others in the sector were having to make very difficult decisions.
What products categories are generating the highest levels of interest at the moment?
We’ve seen a 62% increase in circuit protection sales over the past few months – I believe partly due to the new landlord regulations which have required more stringent checks on their properties – potentially highlighting more faults and thus generating the need for new circuit protection devices.
The upcoming second amendments to the 18th edition wiring regulations are having an effect as the industry adapts to ensure it’s ready ahead of time. And lifestyle changes have also had an impact: more people than ever are purchasing electric vehicles and hot tubs, alongside other items which are likely to see them needing an electrical check and potentially new circuit protection equipment too.
And of course, more of us than ever are working from home at least some of the time, and choosing to renovate our homes – again meaning more checks and more need for circuit updates.
Are you seeing a move away from traditional switches and sockets in favour of more stylised offerings or products with additional functionality such as inbuilt USB sockets?
There’s definitely an increased call for functionality in addition to aesthetics, quality and of course a fairly priced product. We’ve had great success with the USB-C sockets we’ve introduced into our ranges – and our newest socket and switch range Median has attracted lots of interest for its sleek, modern looks.
However, there’s still definitely a place for the more traditional switches and sockets. At Niglon, we have a total of ten wiring accessories ranges meaning there’s plenty of choice for the customer – whether they’re looking for something simple and smart, or something which stands out.
How did Niglon get involved with the Electrical Industries Charity?
Going through the pandemic, we felt incredibly lucky that we were able to retain all of our staff and the disruption to our business wasn’t insurmountable. But of course, we all had our own personal sadness in that time whether it was illness, grief or the emotional impact of multiple lockdowns – and we could also see others in the industry going through incredibly tough times.
So, when we heard that the Electrical Industries Charity was launching its corporate partner scheme, Niglon was the first to sign up. Their work is inspirational: ensuring anyone who works or has worked within the electrical industry is supported through physical or mental ill health, bereavement, financial struggles or any other problems they may have.
That’s why we pledged 10% of the profits from all sales of our Median range to the EIC, and we also have plenty of other plans to assist them with their life-changing work.
Are there any specific industry trends you expect to gather momentum in 2022?
The introduction of app-based products and being able to control IOT products through your phone is something I’ve had my eye on for quite a while, and I believe it’s technology which is becoming more important every year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become a real industry trend in 2022.
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