Although having only been established in the UK for two years, Jaquar has now introduced the luxury brand Artize, adding to its mid-market offer. Philippa Turrell finds out about the company’s plans
Established in 1960, in its native India Jaquar Bathrooms entered the UK market just two years ago, as part of a global strategy for recognition of its work across the globe. The family-run company, which started making brassware evolved, and over the past 10-15 years also started to manufacture sanitaryware and steam showers to offer “a complete bathroom solution”. It now delivers over two million bathrooms and 24million bathroom fittings annually to more than 40 countries.
Director and promotor of the Jaquar Group Rajesh Mahra explained how the UK forms an essential part of its strategy for global recognition: “We want to become a global brand. When you come to developed markets and the UK is very mature, the product has to be well received. The UK still has rich potential, in spite of everything. It doing very well. We are looking at Europe in a big way. It’s not just for turnover; it’s more for recognition that what we are doing is being well received across the globe.”
Emerging market luxury
But how are independent bathroom retailers embracing a mid-market and now luxury brand from an emerging market such as India, as an acceptable alternative to established German ? UK general manager Martin Voisey states: “When retailers question the brand saying, ‘I’ve not bought Indian bathroom products’, I reply ‘well you have…You’ve bought from Roca, they have a massive plant in India and some Hansgrohe products are made in India.
If you’ve got an iPhone or a Jaguar car, they may be made in India, so you’re buying Indian products all the time.” He explains the challenge for Jaquar Bathrooms is “getting people to open their minds to a brand they haven’t heard of and stopping them thinking it’s just another tap supplier.”
Developing UK network
But the showroom numbers speak for themselves, as the mid-market Jaquar brand is already sold through 60 dealers, with a plan to reach 120 showrooms. “We have taken our time to find the right partners”, Martin Voisey exclaims and says the company is seeking retailers who are ‘world famous’ in their own town “because a) that’s where people go to buy their bathrooms b) they’ve been there years and are going to be there years and c) they pay their bills. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be there. They are the type of people we want to talk to.”
And he continues: “We just want dealers who can see this for what it is, which is a fantastic opportunity to sell a brand which is not on every street corner. There’s a great margin opportunity, fantastic service and a quality product with a true manufacturer behind it.”
Enter luxury Artize
And now the company has introduced its Artize brand of luxury bathrooms, which will widen its opportunities for growing sales and further penetrate into the specialist retail sector. “Some Jaquar dealers are waiting for Artize. Some have bought Jaquar from us so we will give them Artize and some have openly admitted ‘it’s not our market. It’s not our demographic. It’s not what we do’. With Artize we are looking for dealers at the higher end”, exclaims Voisey.
He says the company has already been trialling the brand with a dealer in the Midlands who sells at a high level and was looking for an alternative to German brand. “He saw the Artize products online and said he wanted a piece of the action before we had even launched them in the UK. He became the test bed for us to see how the brand worked, what the pricing strategy needed to look like and how the consumer takes to it. We put some products into his store and they’ve done very well indeed. They’ve exceeded expectations.”
But Voisey also points out it was always the plan to launch Artize in the UK market to appeal to high-end dealers, interior designers, architects and developers. And the company is looking for 20 dealers, nationwide, to sell the Artize brand. “We don’t want to put it on every street corner. We’re not that daft to think every retailer can sell it or will want to sell it. So we are looking for the right dealers who can see the opportunity.”
Focused on maintain margin for the retailer, the company has set a trade buying price for the dealer allowing them to sell it what they want to sell it for. “It’s a bit bold. I didn’t want to put a price on the products which would scare people off or where they would say ‘you’ve undercut that one’. The brand equity is the most important thing we have to protect here.”
But in the cut-throat world of the internet, doesn’t that mean a natural erosion of margin. Voisey says not: “We trade with partners that understand what we’re doing as a brand. We’re not selling to internet-only dealers because we don’t think that’s the right thing for this industry, anyway. We deal with many retailers who have got very active internet sites and they’ve put our product on there but they don’t discount it.”
And the strategy must be working as Voisey exclaims: “Business is good. We’ve grown month on month, which is what we are looking to do. We are here for the long haul. You don’t build a skyscraper on sand. By the end of the year, I want dealer numbers to be around the 90 mark.”
Tiered retail support
Although Voisey is keen to point out that the brand isn’t dictatorial in how many displays it requires from retailers or what should be featured in the showroom, he is looking for them to have loyalty to the brand. “If a dealer says to us we like some of your taps but we’re not interested in any of your sanitaryware or your showers, we would probably politely say ‘we are selling a concept package here’”. But he expresses it’s because of the investment the company will make in a showroom, with free displays, to further sales.
In fact Jaquar Bathrooms has three levels of support for its dealers from a Jaquar Designated Space, with POS support through to a Jaquar World Concession, which is a small dedicated area in a showroom. These retailers also receive sales leads from the company. But at the top of the tree is the Jaquar World Centre.
Voisey explains Jaquar Bathrooms has 23 Orientation Centres in India, which are owned by the company and solely used to promote the brand to architects, interiors designers and consumers. But to mirror the concept worldwide would be commercially unfeasible. So the company plans to work in joint ventures with retailers to create solus Jaquar World showrooms, which are a 50:50 partnership investment, even including paying half the salary of an additional member of staff. “We opened a Jaquar World in Dubai that is fronted by a retail business and that’s gone off like a train. It’s unbelievably successful.”
The company already has plans to open its first in London, with a second Jaquar World already in the pipeline for Leeds. Eventually Jaquar hopes to have nine or 10 solus showrooms across the UK.
Investment to grow
In fact, the company is already ahead of where Martin Voisey thought it would be and he cites one of the largest surprises in setting up the showroom network has been some dealers that had outperformed expectations. He says there have been retailers who were keen, but on paper the brand didn’t seem to suit their business or their customer profile. But “ignorance on fire isn’t a bad thing, if they are keen. He who dares wins and all that”, Voisey laughs.
But the company still has plans to grow 20% month on month, with funding available for a further 50 showrooms. Put quite simply, “Jaquar is one of the biggest bathroom companies in the world and it’s got the opportunity to build this brand by investment”, concludes Voisey.