UK-IRE export sales manager of Acquabella Roberto Heredia on enhancing its service and shower tray aesthetics, with the aim retailers will recognise the brand as number one in the category
Q: How is business and is it what you expected at the beginning of 2023?
A: Acquabella is now present in more than 40 markets and been in the UK and Ireland for the past 12 years. In all this time we have experienced constant growth in these markets.
After the challenges posed by Brexit and the pandemic, we are in a perfect scenario to position ourselves as the total reference brand for engineered stone shower trays and accessories.
With the invaluable help of the vision and strategy of the Engineered Stone Group, to which we belong, we have an exciting challenge to position the brand as number one in the shower tray category.
Q: How has the UK retail market performed? What are the factors for this?
A: Our main channel of approaching the market has always been the independent retailer. We have been faithful to this strategy, and we will maintain our support for this channel, with which we have the closest ties.
The relationship between manufacturer and retailer works perfectly. It is a well-oiled machine.
Q: What has particularly stood out for you so far in 2023, in terms of company achievements?
A: We are pleased with the launch of many projects for the British and Irish market, our new product catalogue, the launch of new products that are already receiving top design awards, and the opening of a regulated stock of shower trays in the UK.
We have invested in a logistics partner in Worcester to stock our models and fast truck deliveries so giving 24h service from now on.
We have also eliminated unnecessary paperwork and customs charges to make Acquabella the perfect partner.
These will be very strong weapons for the second part of the year. I have every confidence that these are long overdue, winning cards.
Q: What is your focus for the UK for 2023/24 and how do you propose to meet those objectives?
A: The main pillars of growth for Acquabella right now are service and brand.
We will enhance service with the availability of best-selling stock in the United Kingdom, with logistics and lead times becoming our priority, as well as the removal of fees and refreshed product range.
Regarding branding, as always we will be present at kbb Birmingham, and we have a new catalogue with all the latest products.
Also, the inclusion on the website of new tools such as the 3D Planner or the Virtual Tour are brand promotion tools, along with the presence and promotion on our social networks where we update our news and news, along with our newsletter and blog.
Q: Acquabella seems to have been prolific with product launches and has recently won an iF Award – how important is that to the company and to your retail customers?
A: When we introduce a new product or range we don’t think about awards, we think about how it can fit into the market, our customer base and how they can sell it on a day-to-day basis.
We try to make innovative designs but they must be long-lasting, not just a trend, and from there comes the recognition from design awards that we value very positively.
But the best feedback you can have and the best reward is the reception and recognition of retailers and the market.
Q: With Acquabella a complete bathroom manufacturer, why is there a focus on becoming number one in shower trays and how will you benchmark this?
A: We started manufacturing shower trays 25 years ago and are experts on this stone resin product for the upper mid-market.
Shower trays are our main business but our strength is to offer the market a complete portfolio of bathroom solutions, sharing the same textures, colours and with the possibility to create tailor-made options. This concept is what makes us different.
We are launching four new shower tray designs and four bathtub designs.
In the case of the shower trays, and with a new catalogue about to be launched, we are renewing our bestselling collections with Mia, Geo and Lux grids to refresh and modernise Acquabella’s shower tray aesthetics for the future.
Our benchmark for being number one is keep the innovation and longevity in our designs, our premium customer service and long-term business relationships.
What we are looking for is recognition as number one by our customers as a top product and service brand.
Q: What are your predictions for the bathroom industry in 2024 and beyond?
A: Inflation has been dragging on since 2022 and therefore, there has been a lower purchasing power of consumers, which has been a sizeable challenge.
However, the greatest challenge of bathroom manufacturers is to maintain the profit margin for retailers without destroying the product category by price.
Other important challenges for retailers will be digital transformation, including promotion on social media, ensuring staff are trained in sales techniques to serve treat and satisfy customers, and the search for materials and products committed to sustainability.
In many of these points, of course, the manufacturers will be able to help, and we are prepared for it.
I personally believe the British retail market is not only prepared to deal with all of them, but it has shown itself to adapt very well to the circumstances.
Sustainability is also one of the important issues and challenges of the present and future, with customers demanding more sustainable products as well as water savings.
Acquabella could not be more committed to these points than by acquiring the leading certification for sustainability such as ISO 14001, the best possible recognition of our work in these fields.