Normans, which celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2015, has been a major part of Jersey’s commercial life since 1840. The company started as a cooper then developed as a successful family concern to become the Island’s premier builders’ and agricultural merchants. Now part of Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s top 100 industrial corporations, Normans continues to provide excellent local service with the added advantages of its international connections.
The history of Normans mirrors the changing fortunes of the Island. Making barrels for the fishing industry in the mid-19th century led to the making of barrels, baskets and trays for the booming tomato and potato industries of the early 20th century. Those trading links with Scandinavian and other Baltic timber producers were invaluable when the Island needed building materials after the First World War. The company continued to develop and even found ways to keep trading during the Occupation of Jersey from 1940 until 1945. The construction industry overtook agriculture in importance during the 1950s and 60s and the builders’ merchant side of the business grew.
In addition, the business expanded through acquisition, the most significant in 1986 was the purchase of Huelins, which was then trading from its Five Oaks site. Normans has now consolidated its trading operations at Commercial Buildings and Five Oaks.
The Commercial Buildings operation houses Normans Hire, Tiles, and Lighting, as well as The Building Centre, Timber and Doors. The Timber Frame department co-ordinates the design, supply and build of complete timber frame homes and large scale developments. Commercial Buildings is also where Normans Auto, Trade Centre (plumbing and decorating) and Marine divisions are based.
Normans Five Oaks is a substantial site based on the outskirts of town, enabling efficient storage and delivery of the largest stocks of timber and the full range of building materials. Five Oaks is also the location for Normans Timber Special Order Mill, unique in the Island, as well as fabrication facilities for Roof Trusses, Steel Reinforcement, Glass, and bespoke Fencing. In addition, Nspace our luxury kitchen and bathroom showrooms are based at Five Oaks. Nspace offer a full design, supply and fit service, which also incorporates the Aga shop.
The very successful family firm was purchased by Saint-Gobain in 2007 and continues to trade as an independent brand for the UK’s largest group of builders merchants. Saint Gobain’s history goes back to 1665 when it was founded to manufacture glass and mirrors as the Manufacture royale de glaces de miroirs by Louis XIV. Saint-Gobain continues to manufacture glass today, but the enterprise also manufactures and distributes a wide variety of construction and high-performance materials. The group has sales of over 40 billion euros and a global workforce 193,000 in 64 countries.