International home improvement, gardening and DIY retailer Leroy Merlin began rolling out retail stores in Johannesburg, South Africa, but found that the timber products deployed in the creation of a façade to support its primary branding were weathering, tarnishing and discolouring after a short period. VistaClad™ and Lifespan™ support beams by Eva-Last® were selected by Leroy Merlin to replace the timber products to increase the longevity, performance and consistency of the brand’s look and feel.
PROJECT CHALLENGEThe Rationale for Choosing Eva-Last® Leroy Merlin’s initial store façade installations utilised uncapped cladding products which were prone to staining and fading. Treatment of these products to raise their performance to match later-generation capped cladding materials was prohibitive and would require ongoing maintenance, specialised labour and obstructive scaffolding on site. Additionally, at one of the original sites the original specification had made use of thermally modified soft wood, which required undergoing a treatment cycle to maintain its appearance before the building was opened. Leroy Merlin acknowledged that such an ongoing maintenance protocol on such a large commercial building was not sustainable. The original cladding products were also flammable due to the wax-impregnated timber used, which constituted a significant fire risk and did not meet relevant codes of compliance for commercial application in a building of that type, height and use. The Apex™ product installed by Eva-Last® in the VistaClad™ system provided a BFL S1 fire resistance rating, which was suitable for the use case. A New Solution For a New Brand A relatively new entrant into the South African home improvement and gardening market, Leroy Merlin was looking to replicate its successful European look and feel, which made use of a timber façade at its main entrance. However, South African weather conditions being much harsher, the company found that after a matter of months the timber façade supporting its primary branding was discolouring.
PROJECT SOLUTIONEva-Last® proposed two products – VistaClad™ using the Apex™ range of bamboo-plastic composite cladding (BPC) supported by a framework of LifeSpan™ aluminium beams with a matching extruded composite finish. Branding To Go The Distance Under the advisement of Leroy Merlin Europe and supported by ARC Architects, the South African franchise elected to change its branding specification to utilise composite cladding and support structures since in the local climate BPC cladding and lightweight aluminium support structures would comprehensively outperform timber products, requiring no ongoing maintenance, treatment or replacement. Eva-Last’s 25-year warranty against warping, fading and discolouring guarantees that Leroy Merlin’s branding will remain fresh and within specification for decades to come.
RESULTSPride of Place This being Leroy Merlin’s flagship store and head office, all future stores built in South Africa will follow the same design, featuring a main façade cladded with VistaClad™ over the main entrance, and a large curved screen supported by LifeSpan™ beams. Leroy Merlin’s installation marks one of the earliest uses of the lightweight Apex™ cladding technology in South Africa. Eva-Last’s brief was to design, supply and install VistaClad™ and LifeSpan™ in order to match Leroy Merlin’s branding specifications. Although installation was delayed by the onset of Covid-19 in South Africa, the project is due to be completed by March 2021. The Benefit of Going Green An additional motivation for a change in branding specification was Eva-Last’s environmental credentials in manufacturing all products: VistaClad™ is produced from easily replenished bamboo strands and recycled plastics – as many as 2500 recycled bottles are used for every 10m² of VistaClad™ produced.
KEY INFLUENCER QUOTE
“A key aspect of Leroy Merlin’s decision to switch to composites for something as crucial as primary branding was the longevity of our products. With almost no upkeep, Leroy Merlin’s main customer-facing façade will remain as intended for a very long time, and the combination of VistaClad and Life Span can be used in a variety of flexible applications to suit all store layouts and formats going forward.” – Arnoldt Visser, Eva-Last