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Fixtures and Fittings

Fixtures and fittings are sometimes overlooked next to giant pieces of machinery, however, Harriet Gordon says these fixtures are crucial in securing the safety of the nation’s signage

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Fixtures and fittings, often overlooked in favour of shiny new machines, are the midfield powerhouses of the sign industry

Fix up, look sharp

As the country was eagerly glued to its TV screens recently anticipating England’s next fixture, select members of the sign industry had their sights set on a very different kind of fixture.

Fixtures and fittings, often overlooked in favour of shiny new machines, are the midfield powerhouses of the sign industry. Like a solid midfielder holding a team together, fixtures and fittings quite literally hold up the signage of the nation and are deserving of a bit of media attention. In this feature, we hear from key players in this sector about the most important developments and trends in the fixtures and fittings arena.

A winning formula

William Smith’s Button-fix is a new fixing mechanism which was awarded Sign Industry Product of the Year at the 2017 BSGA Awards

If the England squad are after some goal-scoring inspiration, they need look no further than William Smith. This sign industry winning team has recently scored with its ‘Button-fix’ product, designed to be an easy, accurate and secure method of invisibly attaching panels, signage, and objects to walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. Kyle Giles, marketing executive at William Smith, explains: “Button-fix is the product of the moment. New to the industry, it is an innovative fixing mechanism which was awarded Sign Industry Product of the Year at the 2017 BSGA Awards. It has also picked up many other accolades since then. A testament to its success. Button-fix is a highly adaptable product. Available in numerous models, it speeds up installation in an easy and accurate manner.”


People want to install signs quickly and effortlessly. Button-fix is the perfect solution and I believe it is ahead of its time

In terms of what direction developments in fixtures and fittings are going, Giles is clear: “The simpler the better! People want to install signs quickly and effortlessly. Button-fix is the perfect solution and I believe it is ahead of its time.”

FK Moore is another company that is regularly updating its product offering in this area. Business manager Karen Jackson explains: “We have added unique finishes to our already extensive range of wall fixings/stand offs and coverheads. For example, antique brass, bronze, copper and antique copper, which are hand-finished to perfection.

“Also, we are now able to powder coat the wall fixing/stand offs to RAL colour specification.

By listening to the customer, we have also extended our popular internally threaded coverhead range, now with more than 30 alternatives, notwithstanding endless powder coated colours.”

So how are these updates impacting the sign-maker? Jackson says it is all about being able to offer much more choice for finishing an application: “This can add value for our customers, enabling them to tailor the job to their clients’ needs and giving a much more personal service.”

Shoot for security

It is not only more aesthetic choices, such as colours, that are entering the sign industry through the fixture and fittings sector; Stephen Ferrie from iSpi Trade tells us that lockable sign fixings for added security are also becoming increasingly popular:

“We are seeing this especially for use in schools and nightclubs, where signage is more likely to be tampered with or taken off completely.

“We have also seen a growth in demand for heavier solid brass sign fixings and wall mounts. They are beginning to take a hold in the market due to their durability, especially for exterior use, when compared with aluminium alternatives. With the range of finishes growing all the time, they add a great finishing touch to any project.”


Using the lockable wall mounts would mean the fitter can avoid repeat visits and irritated customers, which is never good for business, and increases the life span of the fitting

Ferrie sees these developments as having a tangible impact on both the sign-provider and the end-user, as he explains: “Using the lockable wall mounts would mean the fitter can avoid repeat visits and irritated customers, which is never good for business, and increases the life span of the fitting.

Ferrie from iSpi Trade says lockable sign fixings for added security are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in schools and nightclubs where signage is more likely to be tampered with

“The same could be said for the brass sign fixings, as these are a more durable and weather resistant material than the lightweight aluminium options. The cost difference isn’t significant – but offering the customer a more durable, long term solution can be factored into the quote.”

Safety is of course key in fitting signage, and the fixtures sectors bears a heavy weight of responsibility in this area. On the rare occasions that signage makes the headlines of the mainstream press, it is nearly always because of a tragic accident involving a falling sign and an unfortunate pedestrian.

Giles of William Smith explains that, when choosing fixtures and fittings, first and foremost you need to be sure that any fixing used is going to be able to bear the weight load of a sign. He continues: “Anything mounted from a height could be a potential danger if not fixed securely. Another consideration…will your fixing cope with the outdoor elements? Wind pressure will always be a threat but if you perform a wind load test, then you can eliminate the risk.”

Giles of William Smith says that safety considerations have to come first when choosing fixtures and fittings, emphasising the need of performing a wind load test

Risk assessment is undoubtedly the most important element of choosing fixtures, but there are other aspects to consider. Jackson of FK Moore advises: “You should always choose a product that is manufactured from quality material with good styling and a superior finish. This will provide longevity, peace of mind whilst being aesthetically pleasing.”


Always research the best product for the job. Location and access, weight and thickness of the signage, weather conditions, and exposure to extremes are all factors which should be considered before price

Ultimately, research is key when making these decisions, as iSpi’s Ferrie adds: “Always research the best product for the job. Location and access, weight and thickness of the signage, weather conditions, and exposure to extremes are all factors which should be considered before price.

“The cost of replacing or correcting an issue with a job will outweigh the additional budget required to ensure you have the right fixings. We have introduced a chat facility to our web shop and it has proved popular with buyers who want to check product details before they buy: this is helping to reduce issues when the installer is onsite.”

Future focus

With these wise words ringing in our ears, our signage experts turn to the future of fixtures and fittings, and how this will impact the sign industry at large. Ferrie from iSpi notes that LED is popular at the moment, and this includes LED sign fixings: “Our ‘Signalite’ range add a great finishing touch to acrylic or glass standoff signs.

ISpi offer LED sign fixings: its ‘Signalite’ add a finishing touch to acrylic or glass standoff signs and require fitting into the electricity supply

Although they require fitting into the electricity supply, they give a truly unique visual finish.

“We also see an increase in our orders for LED sign clamps. Sign clamps have always been a popular product, but the LED clamps are perfect for low light hallways and wayfinding, plus they are available in a range of light colours which make them versatile, as well as adding an attractive feature.”

Ferrie continues: “The growth in demand for LED products, including LED window displays is amazing. Once the preserve of Estate Agents, they are now being used by restaurants and bars for both window and interior poster display. As one of the UK’s most cost-effective suppliers, we see this as a major growth area for sign suppliers to exploit.”

While LED’s may be lighting the way, there is still room in the market for the more traditional options, as Ferrie explains: “Aluminium sign fixings are still one of our key products, the range of colours and finishes make them very appealing to end-users.

ISpi’s Ferrie says that while the growth in demand for LED window displays is amazing, aluminum sign fixings are still one of their key products

“But in our country of unpredictable weather, more durable brass and stainless-steel fixings are growing in popularity and we don’t see demand for these declining. New head shapes and finishes come into the market, but traditional flat head fixings will always outsell niche products.”

When considering the direction of the sign industry at large, FK Moore’s Jackson believe it is all about bespoke: “We foresee that offering a large range of different finishes and products enables the sign-maker to match to almost any design or colour that they or their customer desires. We also pride ourselves on listening to the customer to understand their position to recommend product use that exceeds expectation: our advice is, use the knowledge of the manufacturer!”


O Factoid: Global advertising spend is set to grow by 5.2 percent to $535bn in 2018, thanks to the most watched sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World CupO


As mentioned earlier on in this feature, the British Sign Awards, sponsored by the British Sign and Graphics Association, has one very handy award related to this subject matter: Product of the Year. As mentioned, it was Button-fix from William Smith that won the award in 2017 for its secure method of invisibly attaching panels, signage and objects to walls, ceiling and other surfaces.

However, the winner for this year’s awards is not yet revealed, with the deadline for entry not until Friday September 14th. It is a fantastic award celebrating the unsung heroes of the sign industry, working tirelessly behind the scenes to keep signage together.

On the awards’ website, it says: “Every year, hundreds of new products are launched into the sign and display sector. Many are designed to help simplify a process that was previously labour intensive, some have been developed to enable sign-makers to open up new revenue streams or offer greatly enhanced services, while others are more economic and/or greener than their predecessors.

“The ‘Product of the Year Award’, sponsored by Sign Directions Online, will go to the product (machine, material, component, technology, service etc) that has made the greatest impact on the industry in the past year. Every sign-maker member of the British Sign and Graphics Association is invited to vote in this award.

“UK-based manufacturers and suppliers (of new products from both the UK and overseas) are invited to enter their own product innovations for the award. In addition, we will also be asking industry experts to nominate products for this award (manufacturers/suppliers will be informed if their products are nominated).”

It is certainly an exciting area of the sign industry, with new products being launched all the time. It is also interesting to see what impact each product has and how it is unique, allowing hundreds of new possibilities in signage.

So, having talked to many experts in this field, it is clear to see what makes certain fixtures and fittings stand out in the industry. Firstly, the more simple the product is, the better it tends to be for the sign-maker. With sign-makers often working to a busy schedule, they want to be able to install signs both quickly and without additional effort or mistakes.

After all, while a small error may not seem like the end of the world, these set backs in time all add up in the end. So, having the right tools and fixings in the first place is absolutely key.

Another important finding from talking to the experts is that listening to the customer is crucial. What products are already popular? What problems are sign-makers having when installing signage? Look into these two questions and you will soon start to realise what new products should be being developed.

Maybe one product is particularly popular and just needs expanding upon with more colours or more different functions. While innovative new products are making waves in the industry and developing these new ideas is important, it is still sometimes the traditional options that remain the firm favourites.

There is no doubt that, while the fixtures and fittings sector continues to bear the weight of the industry on its shoulders, energy is being found for product innovations and developments.

So, while England may have crashed out of the World Cup, with this sound advice you can ensure your newly-perfected signage will not come crashing down as well: the fixtures and fittings are available that will keep your sign secure long after Russia 2018 is a distant memory.

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