WINDOW manufacturer Sovereign Group is moving further away from the public image of the double glazing salesman's "foot in the door" hard sell following a management buy-out.

The Nelson-based firm will launch its own internet site this year to allow home-owners to buy directly from the warehouse at factory prices at the click of a mouse button.

Managing director Glenn Taylor said: "We believe there is an opportunity in the market for a high specification quality product at a price which is not inflated by the costs of telesales and high pressure salesmen."

Sovereign, which employs around 160 staff at its Vale Street works, is one of the country's leading commercial window manufacturers and installers of windows to local authorities and housing associations.

"The company enters the new year with a full order book derived from its existing markets and a strong balance sheet," said Mr Taylor, who led the buy-out by Sovereign's existing management team from its parent company Burnley-based VEKA for an undisclosed sum.

"Our success over the past two years is testimony to the skills and commitment of our workforce.

"In such a fast moving business we cannot afford to be complacent and we are looking at various options to develop the business."

Mr Taylor said Sovereign's strengths, unlike other double glazed window manufacturers, were in manufacturing and installation rather than sales and marketing.

VEKA managing director Peter Abbott said the decision to sell Sovereign, along with VEKA's other interests in window manufacturing, followed a worldwide review of its operations.

"We are confident that the management team who have turned round the business will continue this progress in the future," he said.

VEKA will remain Sovereign's largest supplier and the companies will continue to have a close working relationship.

Sovereign returned to profitability in 1999, making £145,137 on sales of £11.5 million. Figures from last year are expected to show further increases with sales topping £12 million.

Picture: The management team at the Sovereign Group Ltd, Vale Street, Nelson, after the announcement of the management buy out. From the left are, managing director Glenn Taylor, commercial director Fred Proszek, production director David Fitton and financial director John Mackie