Lakes Showering Spaces | “We are back in the game”

Following an MBO, investment and new product launch, Lakes Showering Spaces MD Mike Gahir says the business is driven to become a strong competitor

01 May, 24

Following an MBO, investment and new product launch, Lakes Showering Spaces MD Mike Gahir says the business is driven to become a strong competitor in the market

Lakes Showering Spaces | “We are back in the game”

Lakes Showering Spaces is on a journey to become a strong competitor in the shower enclosure market. Following a management buyout  – by MD Mike Gahir and fellow directors Bev Brown, Darren Bedford and Chris Thain –  and having secured a £3.5million investment, it is in the process of modernising its product range.

Mike Gahir explains why: “I think if you asked the market, they would have said Lakes was a solid brand but had lost its way and was behind on trends. It’s probably no secret that we are catching the market up, but quite rapidly.”

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Stretching mid-market

Established in 1986, the £12m Gloucester-based business was established by Robin Craddock and his father.

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While preserving the culture and family values of the business, Lakes has set about revitalising its range, first introducing the Wave shower enclosure in Brushed Brass and Black and now Modular Walk-in shower enclosures.

Mike Gahir explains: “Walk-ins are 40%-50% of what consumers buy and we think we’ve got something market-leading.

“The range has got a high degree of personalisation. It offers 28 combinations of glass panels in two thicknesses, bracing bars, and profiles in six finishes.”

It’s a real step-change for the company, as Gahir admits: “Less than 12 months ago, we only sold silver enclosures. That’s how far behind we were.”

It sees Lakes offering new colours to the company – Gun Metal, Brushed Nickel and Brushed Bronze – and stretching its brand upwards, extending its 10mm glass offer.

“The business has historically got its roots in the mid-market. It’s never going to forget its roots, but there’s a bigger part of the mid-market. This sits near the top of our portfolio.”

Retail support

The Modular Walk-in collection is being supported by displays, dedicated brochure with step-by-step specification, microsite with configurator, POS, as well as a team of five regional sales managers for retail.

“The new product will open doors for us – no doubt about it. We want to reach new customers and replace displays of competitors.”

Gahir explains the importance of sales representatives to help achieve its aims. “As we try to develop new retail outlets, they are vitally important to establish that relationship.  We want to have much deeper conversations with customers, to understand how we can help their business.”

Product pipeline

Gahir states the Modular Walk-in will be the catalyst for a “relentless” rolling product pipeline, with two or three product launches a year.

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In the new few years Lakes Showering Spaces hopes to have remodelled its entire range. “Who know, maybe we’ll even try to lead on a couple of trends. That’s a brave new world for Lakes”, he adds.

Employing 130 people across the business, with half in its own factory in China, enables the company to turn the dial on production: “It gives us a really strong supply chain and a greater degree of control”, says Gahir.

Despite a 4-5-fold increase in shipping costs, just this year alone, Gahir says the additional costs haven’t passed through to retailers. But has it been impacted by the recent Red Sea troubles? “The only thing it’s done is added two weeks’ delay and that is not just the shipping but the port congestion.”

Sustainable credentials

For a company that prides itself on sustainability credentials, with recyclable packaging, how does that sit with manufacturing in China?

Gahir points out the company is Carbon Neutral Plus, explaining: “We offset more than we use. We support projects in India and China and Africa, for example. We think the industry feels like it’s woken up a little bit late but it is quite a focus for the industry, whereas we are ahead of the game.”

And he believes it is inevitable companies will become Carbon Neutral, as a minimum.

“There’s a lot of regulations coming in which are going to try and drive more local sourcing in early 2027 for the UK. That’s going to have impact for our industry because glass and aluminium industries are the first being targeted. It’s a tax really, as sourcing locally is not realistic for a lot of businesses.”

“No quibble” guarantees

However, the success of the company is not reliant on product development and environmental credentials, alone. Gahir points to its customer service and “No Quibble” Guarantee. “Our TrustPilot score is one of the highest in the industry, and part of that is because we’ve got a No Quibble lifetime guarantee.

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“If there is a warranty claim and it’s deemed to be a manufacturing fault,  which are thankfully rare, we will often  replace the unit. It means for retailers, if one of their customers has an issue with a Lakes unit, they know we’ll take care of it”, Gahir explains.

However, not content with this alone, Lakes has also focused on enhancing its service. “We want it to be easier to do business with”, says Gahir, highlighting a redesign of its brochure to improve communication.

Outperforming market

All of which has seen Lakes Showering Spaces outperform the market in retail and new build, with specification a relatively new sector for the company.

“We’ve had quite strong quarter one performance on our specification channel”

And the company is seeking to explore additional channels, but is not considering online sales.

Gahir states: “The majority of our business is in retail and up until two years’ ago it was our only sales channel.” Although developing new markets, he assures retailers the business is still important to the business, pointing out it is the company’s largest market.

Lakes Showering Spaces recognises building the brand is one of its biggest challenges but the launch of the Modular Walk-in Collection will be a “massive” step in that direction.

He concludes: “The company is poised well for growth. What we want retailers to feel is we’re back in the game.”