Going it alone

18 Feb, 14

Former Ripples manager Ryan Harris has opened his own showroom

Former showroom manager of Ripples in Winchester, Ryan Harris has opened his own showroom, Harris Bathrooms, in Southampton. “I always wanted my own showroom and tried to look at ways of achieving that. Initially I was looking at franchising with Ripples… but I wanted to do something myself. I wanted [to use] my own ideas and deal with my own suppliers.”

His wife found the showroom, having driven past the shop, which “was low cost rent, just around the corner from where we live and ticking all the boxes really” says Ryan. And he adds “It kind of rollercoastered”. The landlord was starting to build flats at the back of the showroom but said if Ryan could organise the lease within four weeks, he could have the premises.


Derelict to dazzling

However, the retail premises had been left empty for a year and a half, and it was quite rundown. Ryan explains: “For a start there was standing water when you came through the door. The floor was rotten; the joists were gone, because all the drains were blocked. It was all overgrown at the front of the shop. The walls were in a terrible state. The ceiling tiles were all missing.” He adds: “But we could see through that.” It took three months to get the showroom to its current state and now boasts 13 displays targeting the mid-market, complete with private presentation area, office and a warehouse space at the back. “There were three fitters plus a tiler that came in and they all worked very hard.” 

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Supplier support

Ryan chose Mark Two Distribution as a main supplier to the showroom, which could offer him Hudson Reed, Ultra Finishing and Balterley Bathrooms; and he also chose Cleargreen, Kudos, Pura Bathrooms and Phoenix. It was the support offered by the distributor which encouraged Ryan to take on Mark Two. And selecting products for each bay, he asked the sales reps which were the best sellers and ensured the tiles weren’t being discontinued.

Speaking about the positive reaction of the local community to the opening of his showroom Ryan commented: “We have had a good number of visitors, good enquiries and a good number of sales as well. So, I’m very, very pleased.” He added: “We have had local residents say we have uplifted the area.” And the business has already achieved “double what I thought I was going to do”, says Ryan.

And Ryan already has plans to expand his empire with an e-commerce business and a second showroom opening later this year.

This article appears in full in the April issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News