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New image for Brett

Following the big changes over the last 18 months or so, which saw the acquisition of the LaFarge CBP plant in Leicestershire, Brett Paving is having a makeover, with a new logo and a new simplified approach to its identity.
brett
brett catalogues From this week, there'll be just the one name – Brett Landscaping and Building Products. The old familiar names, such as Brett Paving and Atlas Stone, will gradually be phased out and replaced by the new name and logo.

Three new brochures have been launched: one for Block Paving, one for Garden Landscaping products, and one for Natural Stone. Each features the new Brett logo, and there's a common style used throughout.

The block paving catalogue features all of the regular products from what was Brett Paving, with plenty of new photos. The tumbled Alpha and Theta blocks are now deemed to be “Prestige Paving”, while the Beta, Omega, Delta and Sigma are “Classic” (I'm not so sure about the Sigma grass-paving block being a 'classic', but I suppose it makes more sense to lump it in here than to put it in with the 'Prestige' products).

There are some genuinely superb photos in here, and the double-page spreads are fantastic selling aids. If I had to criticise anything it could only be that the colour swatches are small and don't give a real feel for the variation in shade and tone that is found in each of the various colour blends. At only 32 pages for the entire brochure, though, a few extra photos of the various colour options could not have been deemed to be 'space filling': pictures sell paving.

block paving brochure
garden landscaping brochure The Garden Landscaping brochure has another 'lifestyle' image on the front cover, and it's virtually impossible to identify the paving, or to recognise that this is actually a paving brochure, but then, so many of the manufacturers are following the same path (no pun intended) with their publicity material of late.

I don't mind the odd picture or two featuring “Pretty Young Things” with big cheesy gins and perfect lives, but I feel that too many such images detract from the paving, and the poor old contractor trying to use the catalogues as a sales aid is left trying to convince the customer that such-and-such a paving really is suitable for their project. As soon as a model is included in a photo, clients are swayed by whether they empathise with (or fancy) the model, and they instinctively pay less attention to the paving. The Contractor ends up selling a 'lifestyle' rather than a patio or driveway, and, in many cases, such an idealised lifestyle is just not feasible.

As with the Block Paving brochure, the Garden Landscaping products have been divided into Prestige and Classic ranges, supplemented by a third range, the “Value” Paving. No stunningly new products; just the standard, tried-and-tested good quality products that have served Atlas (as was) so well over the years. There are some great photos, many of them new, and well-considered, once you look beyond the models. The Technical Info section is basic, but the guidance given is generally clear and accurate. However, the abominable spot-bedding method is recommended, a crime that ought to be punished by defenestration (the act of throwing an eejit out of a window). When will manufacturers realise that spot bedding is, to be perfectly blunt, a really crap way to lay flags? It's not used for commercial projects, so why is it deemed acceptable for private work?
Finally, the Natural Stone brochure. This is the thinnest of the three, at only 20 pages (including the cover) and the products offered seem to consist entirely of the imported materials that have flooded the market for the last few years.

I fully understand the economic imperatives that drive this market, but wouldn't it have been a fillip to the beleaguered British and Irish stone industries to offer at least a token 'native' product - one of the Yorkstones, the Pennant stone from South Wales, a whinstone from Scotland, or even an Irish limestone. These islands have some of the most beautiful and hard-wearing flagstones in the world - they might not be able to compete cost-wise, but then, not everyone puts a price on good looks and taste.

Natural Stone brochure
brett regency square
Brett Regency Square in Natural Stone
Once again, the products are divided in Prestige and Classic. The Prestige range comprises a Travertine in 3 colours, a hard bluey limestone, a selection of granite setts, cubes and mats, and a 30mm slate that comes in 4 colours and 4 sizes, up to 900x600mm. The Classic range comprises the usual selection of sandstones, although some have been re-named. There are only 4 sizes, based on a 300mm module, but there is the option to buy a 'Project Pack' containing a mix of all 4 sizes totalling just under 15m².

There's also a Circle Set with optional squaring-off kit and what I think is their best item in the natural stone offerings – a "Regency Square", which is a 2.4m x 2.4m square featuring alternating 'rings' of contrasting flagstones. The sandstone is also available as irregular stepping stones, as 140mm wide setts, and as copings/edgings, which enable a consistent 'theme' to be used throughout a project. The Classic range is completed with the inclusion of another limestone flag, in the same 4 sizes and a choice of 3 colours.

The laying guide is minimal, but the cardinal sin of recommending spot bedding is repeated, and this time, the crime is exacerbated by the inclusion of a sketch. I realise I keep banging on about spot bedding, but I know from over 30 years working with flags that it is wrong, and is the primary cause of most problems with paving in the medium-to-long term. How the hell can 5 spots of mortar provide adequate support for a 900x600mm flagstone that's only 30mm thick? Flags need a bed that provides “uniform support”, as required by BS 7533:4 - Code of practice for the construction of pavements of precast concrete flags or natural stone slabs.

Overall, I'm not sure why the marketing dweebs thought it best to produce 3 separate brochures. A lot of the technical and laying info is repeated, and what could have been one, handy, comprehensive catalogue, sub-divided into 3 sections if so desired, has been hived off into lesser publications that don't do justice to Brett as a brand. Brett are a significant and well-respected company in the British paving industry and I feel an all-in catalogue would underline their size and strength, whereas what we have feels fractured and incomplete.

However, what really counts are the products, and they can't be faulted. Brett's strength lies in its highly regarded Block Paving and that strength is fortified by the provision of new, full- or double-page photos that are inspirational and perfectly conceived. I know many contractors in Lower Britain are incredibly loyal to Brett and I'm sure that won't be changed by the re-branding. Just how easily the equally popular Atlas brand can be subsumed into the Brett fold remains to be seen.

No decent contractor can afford not to offer Brett paving to their clients. The block paving products are amongst the best available in the country, and the wet-cast flags are attractively-priced good-quality pavings in an eclectic range covering all tastes. The natural stone offers some interesting alternatives, particularly the slate. The brochures have been targetted at the client, rather than the contractor, but that's no bad thing, as it can only make selling paving that much easier. Contractors anywhere near a Brett Stockist should consider these publications as an essential component of their sales kit, and private customers looking for ideas will not be disappointed.

The new brochures should be available via the stockists any day now or you can order copies by calling 01634 222188 during business hours. Alternatively, brochures can be ordered via the website.

brett westminster flags
Brett Westminster Flags - what a photo!
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