Growth spurts

28 Jun, 13

‘Quick-fix’ purchases are driving bathroom sales, says Philippa Turrell

Big-ticket bathroom sales may have dwindled but it has seen consumers looking for cost-effective alternatives to a whole refurbishment and taps provide a first point of call. Managing director of Laufen UK, Alan Dodds agrees: “This is because homeowners are looking to give their bathroom a fresh look without necessarily wanting to go through a total refurb and they are turning to such products, as brassware and accessories, as an effective way of doing so.”

Industry experts suggest brassware popularity depends on the consumer’s budget, with mid-market designs differing to those at the top-end. In the mid-market, it’s all about chrome, monobloc mixers, while the top-end sees a demand for more luxe, architectural styling. However Martin Rowell of Grohe counters “Design preferences are subjective. Some consumers only choose from the latest architectural styles, such as taps in the form of geometric shapes from floorstanding bath spouts to wall-mounted basin taps. However, there are also groups who prefer traditional styles and choose classic styles for their bathroom such as three-hole basin taps.”

Whatever style tap a consumer favours, at the heart of the premium market is lavishness.This move towards sumptuous interiors has seen cutting-edge designs move from austere to natural styling .And the future of tap design looks set to follow showering, with a greater influence of digital controls, not only for the ultimate indulgence but to reduce water use. Martin Rowell adds: “The bathroom is heading for a major revolution which in the next 10 years will completely transform how we use this environment and interface with water. One would expect to see a reduction in the amount of water needed to provide a great experience and secondary uses for the water leaving the room.”

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The challenge for bathroom retailers and designers is how to capitalise on all these latest fashions as separate, rather than add-on sales. For bathroom showrooms, it may mean displaying them in a dedicated area for take-away sales. Certainly, experts believe taps will pay their way on the showoom floor and continue to boost sales. Barbara Osborne, product manager at Methven UK concludes: “I do believe, in the context of the bathroom market in these tough times, taps will grow and continue to provide vital revenue streams for retailers and merchants, as consumers continue to look for economical ways of refreshing and improving their homes.”

The full article appeared in the March issue of Kitchens & Bathrooms News