Perfect flooring

A well-known and trusted name, Amtico, is going above and beyond to ensure high quality, innovative flooring designs are produced for its customers, regardless of the challenges currently facing UK manufacturers

Amtico is the pioneer of a type of flooring called luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and is keen to maintain that position, with nearly 60 years of knowledge and experience going into every floor. In discussion with Jonathan Duck, the company’s CEO, we learn about the range of products across the LVT market that Amtico has to offer, making it one of the leading worldwide names in the flooring industry, for both residential and commercial customers.

“There are two broad categories of LVT; tiles that are glued down to a screed and tiles that are loose-laid over an existing floor. We operate in each category with our various products,” he begins. “Signature is our top-end glue down range, and when I joined Amtico in 2003, taking over from its founding CEO, that was all we made. It’s a high-end tile that leads the LVT market. Then, we have Form, which has greater surface texture, and is an upper-end product. There’s also Spacia, our main seller and slightly cheaper, which is a mid-range staple. Finally, there’s First, our price-fighting range.

“We also have types of LVT that can be loose-laid on a floor. Access is our LVT version of the carpet tiles you might see in offices. Click Smart is our LVT version of the laminate you might see in homes, only much better,” he says.

The wide offering speaks directly to what sets Amtico apart, as one of the few companies specialising in LVT, which is itself one of the hottest segments within the wider flooring industry. Of course, with privilege comes responsibility, and Amtico has to keep its innovation level high in order to remain at the top. “As you get more and more competition, you have to make sure you stay unique, which is why we have always upheld our reputation for design, quality, excellent customer service and support.”

Amtico’s business consists of three interlocking activities: design, manufacturing, and sales and marketing. Jonathan elaborates that the company has to lead in each of these three activities, to stay fully ahead of its competition. “We want to guarantee that our designs are great, but not too far out there, while also maintaining a high pace of innovation to lead the market, but not running too far ahead of it.

“One of the things that really helps us stand out is that we have always believed in Western manufacturing. My goal here has been twofold. First to create a very successful business, second to make sure Amtico plays its part as a national exporter, so UK-plc earns its way in the world and does not end up always borrowing from overseas to fund ever increasing imports.” This, Jonathan adds, speaks to the company’s impressive history. Since Amtico was founded in 1964, initially as part of the textiles and chemical company Courtaulds on a corner of its Coventry site, it has grown organically to about £200 million sales.

It has also been a company, according to Jonathan, that others within the flooring industry have sought to copy. “We are always consciously pushing the boundaries, which fits with the type of culture we have built within the business. We work on the basis of driving as much authority and responsibility down the line as possible, employing great people and having a low staff turnover. Some companies may choose to run themselves through micro-management, but we are at the opposite end of that spectrum.

“We have strategic business goals which we communicate regularly, but we consciously do not tell our teams how to get there. The idea is that our people will get used to making their own decisions, and as a result, things will happen automatically and much faster. I use the example of various military leaders who devolve authority, and others who run it all from the centre. You can guess which armies work better in the field.”

With the combination of innovation and team strategy, the prize for Amtico in the future is continued growth. Jonathan wants to remain adaptable, so as to keep expanding at about 10-20 percent each year, including in overseas markets. As he elaborates; “During Covid and Brexit, we ended up focusing very hard on the UK residential market, but I would now like to get back to a lot more exporting to commercial customers in Europe and beyond.”

In the medium term, Amtico’s next goal is a step change increase in its production capacity. “That will be a big one for us. We are very space constrained in our Coventry factory and run 24/7, but do need to carry on expanding. A challenge is always the Western manufacturing cost position versus factories in the Far East. Over the past 15 years we have worked incredibly hard to get ourselves down to China’s cost position. This let us re-shore production long before it became fashionable to do so, and indeed when many economists and politicians were saying most Western manufacturing should move to the Far East.

“The challenge of international competitiveness has recently returned with a vengeance, with the European costs of plastic raw materials doubled in the past 12 months, and now UK electricity trebled and gas no less than fifteen times up. This creates real margin and competitive pressures for all of manufacturing industry, much harsher than just the current wage inflation faced by the service sector. But as we increase our prices in line with the new-normal for our costs, despite Far East suppliers keeping a lid on what they sell for, albeit at the end of their very fragile supply chains, we will be fine. When raw material costs revert to normal, which they will eventually do, Amtico will be in an excellent position.

“Furthermore, as we focus on our business goals and strategic development we never lose sight of the sustainability challenge that has become more prominent in recent years for manufacturing industry. Our recently developed strategy focusses our sustainability efforts for the next five years on four core areas: Fighting Climate Change, Reducing Waste, Empowering People and Championing Innovation. We are committed to producing the same high-quality product and unrivalled design that our customers expect, but we are committed to doing so with a smaller environmental impact.”

In conclusion, whatever the economic rollercoaster throws at Amtico, the company will keep succeeding. It’s all down to a dedicated team, who know what they are doing, take every challenge as an opportunity, and rely on innovation and design to keep their business at the leading edge.

Services: Flooring manufacturer