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Epwin Group

Committed to being more sustainable.

Buying a recycling business allows us to cover the complete product lifecycle.

Chris Empson

Chief Financial Officer, Epwin Group PLC

Epwin Group

Epwin Group is a leading UK-based manufacturer of energy-efficient and low-maintenance building products, including windows, doors and fascia systems. Through a nationwide network of retailers, manufacturers and installers, the group serves the repair, maintenance and improvement market – which makes up around 70% of its business – as well as the new-build and social housing sectors.

Epwin Group Plc

Epwin’s roots go back to the 1970s, when it was one of the UK’s first PVC-U manufacturing firms1. Since then it has transformed itself through organic growth and a series of acquisitions and in 2014, the business was listed on the alternative investment market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.1

How has Epwin driven their net zero strategy?

As a big and diverse group of businesses2 working in an energy-intensive sector, Epwin has faced challenges in setting a baseline to track progress on their journey to becoming more sustainable. Chief Financial Officer, Chris Empson, says several decisions have proved valuable in these efforts:

Share what works

Epwin has set up an internal sustainability forum, with Chris as group lead. “Within our businesses a number of people have been achieving good things – we bring these people together to share best practice and get a consistent approach.” This has eliminated duplication of effort and allowed the group to select the most effective methods.

Find meaningful targets

The variety of business types across the group makes it hard to use a volume measure for carbon emissions. Epwin decided to measure gross emissions against revenue, as a way of reflecting activity across the group. This has enabled the group to fix a baseline figure as a launchpad for action.

Consult the experts

External specialists are analysing Epwin’s direct and indirect emissions. “We’re a large group but we don’t have all the answers,” says Chris. “We find a third party useful, particularly on reporting requirements which are becoming ever more complex. Their results will aid our decision-making and allow us to track progress over time.”

Epwin Group is setting themselves milestones for decarbonisation

“The vast majority of products we produce are recyclable” says Chris. “In fact, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) could be fully recyclable several times, so locking carbon into a very long-life product.”

The business is working hard to set and deliver on ambitious targets. It began developing a framework in 2020,3 identifying four development goals that were the most important for Epwin. The following year it published its first sustainability report.3

While setting milestones for reducing emissions and boosting recycling, Epwin has chosen not to set a target date for hitting net zero. “We want to wait until we feel we’re in a position to do that based on data, rather than just chucking a date out there,” says Chris. The group continues detailed work to develop a carbon balance sheet and establish firm baseline points.

15% Reduction in Epwin’s greenhouse gas emissions per £m of gross revenue in 2022 from 2021. ref:3
87% Proportion of Epwin’s revenue from products that are widely recyclable. ref:3
70,000 Tonnes of PVC, aluminium, glass reinforced plastic and composite products produced every year. ref: 3

Epwin’s acquisition and innovation to tackle emissions

Like many manufacturers in our research, Epwin is developing a strategy to measure and reduce the impact of its Scope 3 emissions, those not directly produced by the business but in its supply chain. Epwin is focusing mainly on its purchases of virgin PVC resin, which it found makes up around 80% of its total carbon footprint and falls under Scope 3 emissions3.

To that end, the group has made a strategic acquisition of Poly-Pure, a firm that recycles PVC-U window and door frames. This will enable Epwin to “close the recycling loop” by incorporating reclaimed material back into its new products as well as selling recycled PVC to third party customers.

In fact, Epwin has produced recycled products for well over a decade, but these have only recently become highly valued by customers, says Chris: “In my experience, now people are prepared to pay more for a product that has recycled material in it, because it’s the right thing to do.”

Epwin continues to refine its products. “Recycled material typically doesn’t achieve the consistency of colour that you need for window profiles,” Chris explains. “We will continue to invest in tools that allow us to put the recycled material only in the core of the product, so it doesn’t affect the colour.” This enables use of more recycling materials without affecting quality.

Working with Barclays

Barclays has been Epwin’s banking partner for 13 years.

We try to grow steadily through gaining market share, new product development and acquisitions, and Barclays have been very supportive in that growth story,

Chris Empson

Chief Financial Officer, Epwin Group PLC

When Epwin came to refinance, Chris and his Relationship Director at Barclays Corporate Banking, looked to a sustainable finance credit facility. “We both thought this was something Epwin could and should be doing,” Chris explains.

Provided in partnership with another partner bank, the product offers reduced fees if Epwin meets agreed milestones on sustainability. “The benefits are twofold: there’s a small margin benefit if you hit your targets, but it’s also a signal to the market and stakeholders that you are taking these things seriously,” Chris adds.

“We’ve been on quite a journey to reduce our emissions and we’ve achieved the easier wins, so trying to get the balance between targets that were stretching yet achievable was a big challenge,” says Chris. One agreed target is a further curb on emissions intensity; the other is to increase the volume of material recycled by Poly-Pure, aiming for a 15% rise by 2024 and a further 10% in 2025.

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