In September 2019, silver anniversary celebrations draw to a close for Leicestershire-based Schlüter-Systems Ltd, provider of premium solutions for protecting and finishing tile and natural stone

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Parent company, Schlüter-Systems KG, was established in Germany in 1966 by master tiler Werner Schlüter. Following many years of distribution agreements, the UK office became the fifth international branch opened by the manufacturer following those in Germany, Turkey, Spain and Canada. Schlüter-Systems Ltd initially operated out of one unit on the Bardon 22 industrial estate on the outskirts of Coalville. 25 years later, one unit has expanded to three and the workforce numbers more than 50 people. “During our first 25 years, we have cultivated a reputation not only for quality and reliability, but also for educating customers as to best practice in the use of tile and stone”, says Joachim Backes, Managing Director of Schlüter-Systems Ltd. “I am delighted to be at the helm as we celebrate our silver anniversary and am confident that this achievement will pave the way for many more milestones to come.”

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Over the past quarter of a century, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has had a considerable influence on British installation processes for tile and stone. Schlüter representatives were appointed to The Tile Association (TTA) committees upon its formation in 2000. In joining these and other committees and working groups in the years since, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has established itself as a key contributor to the formation of tile-related British Standards. Its foremost innovation has been the introduction of uncoupling membranes as a standard feature to maintain a crack-free covering. The company has also supported the formation of numerous technical documents for TTA and the Stone Federation.

In-line with its parent company, Schlüter-Systems Ltd places significant emphasis on training. The company’s commitment to education is summed up in a quote from founder Werner Schlüter, “Our products cannot be sold, they must be understood”. The company takes every available opportunity to educate its key audience of architects, specifiers, tiling contractors and resellers through training sessions, roadshows and an extensive programme of networking events. An innovative, award winning e-learning academy programme ran for a number of years before being superseded by the company’s current training arrangements.

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In 2015, to support an expanded workforce and ambitious plans for future development, the company undertook its most extensive office refurbishment to-date. This resulted in the current 3480-square-metre building, with a dedicated training facility – the Schlüter-Systems Education Centre (SSEC). The SSEC comprises smart seminar rooms and large practical areas with dedicated workstations. It plays host to twice-weekly training sessions, as well as a variety of other events supporting the business, local initiatives and national associations.

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During its time in business, Schlüter-Systems Ltd has been influential in setting up and defining the syllabus for tiling NVQs. The company has also acted early in comparison to industry competitors with regards to the creation of RIBA Approved CPDs. The first, covering the topic of uncoupling and movement joints, debuted the products concerned in the RIBA Approved CPD programme. In an updated form, this CPD is now part of a growing suite that address key specification areas.

Innovation characterises Schlüter-Systems Ltd and its parent company, with the business providing a number of highly acclaimed products. These include:

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• Schlüter®-DITRA 25 – The original uncoupling membrane, tried and trusted for more than 30 years to produce crack-free tile and stone installations.

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• Schlüter®-BEKOTEC – a modular system facilitating the construction of lighter, thinner, deformation-free screeds. With the addition of heating pipes, the product becomes the Schlüter®-BEKOTEC-THERM wet underfloor heating system.

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• Schlüter®-DITRA-HEAT-E – an electric underfloor heating system with integrated uncoupling capabilities, preventing cracks and minimising floor height build-up.

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• Schlüter®-SCHIENE – the first tiling protection profile.

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• Schlüter®-DILEX – the first maintenance-free movement joint profile.

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• Schlüter®-KERDI-BOARD – the first cement-free backerboard.

Various products carried by Schlüter-Systems Ltd have been recognised by industry magazines and associations over the years.  Initiated to create a community of tilers and allied traders, the Schlüter and Ü campaign claimed a runner-up spot as finalists in Best Use of Advertising at the Construction Marketing Awards (CMA) 2016. In the same year, the company was shortlisted for the Bupa Wellbeing at Work Award, part of Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Awards, for its initiative to improve work-life balance and aid employees in improving their mental and physical health.

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2017 saw the opening of two Schlüter-Systems Ltd showrooms: one in the architectural heartland of London’s Clerkenwell, and the other at the company’s Coalville headquarters in Leicestershire.

Operated in partnership with Pentagon Tiles and Ardex, 45-49 Leather Lane is the first London hub for Schlüter-Systems – an important development for a company that is regularly specified into prestigious projects across the capital.

The Application Gallery is a key point of interest for many visitors to Schlüter-Systems’ headquarters. It consists of seven different pods representing different ideas for bathroom and kitchen installations, as well as a preparation pod exposing a bathroom underlay constructed from the company’s waterproof tile backerboard, Schlüter®-KERDI-BOARD. It is also home to a museum dedicated to the history of ceramic tile production in the local area.

Last but not least, Schlüter-Systems Ltd’s headquarters, including the Application Gallery, are the focus of a Google 360 Virtual Tour released by the company in August 2018. Prospective c