UK-based brassware manufacturer Marflow outlines its latest developments, plans for the future and what these will mean for retailers
Established in 1968 and home to the St James brassware collection plus Assisi and Now brands, Birmingham-based Marflow Engineering has gone from strength to strength since joining the Sanbra Group in 2020.
Like many manufacturers within the bathroom industry, Marflow was affected by COVID and the resulting challenges presented throughout its supply chain and wider business.
However, the company has come out stronger with refreshed marketing, new products and improved infrastructure.
Robust supply chain
Marflow has forged partnerships with foundries both in Italy and the UK. It also calls upon two plating plants in Sheffield and Birmingham and four machine shops in the Midlands.
In fact, such is the robustness of its local supply chain, the company has secured showroom space from competitors who only import.
Managing director Iain Reid explained ‘Retailers are the bread and butter of our business. As such, we have worked hard over the last few years to provide showrooms with an even better service”.
He exclaims: “One of the many benefits resulting from us joining the Sanbra Group is that we have been able to increase our UK stockholding by 50%.
“This enhanced stock availability, coupled with advanced logistical capabilities and an experienced customer service team, several of whom have been with the business for over 20 years, have enabled us to proactively grow sales via our retail partners”.
Marflow’s three collections, led by the St James range, provide tap and showering models stretching across tastes and budget.
The St James brand offers traditional taps and showers, with Victorian-inspired styling, for the high-end market.
Alongside Chrome, St James products are available in on-trend finishes such as Bright Nickel, Brushed Nickel, Antique Gold and Unlacquered Copper.
The collection is also customisable with a choice of handle designs and St James products are hand-built in Birmingham and tested before leaving the factory.
Assisi was launched just before the pandemic and focuses on contemporary, design led brassware while the Now range provides a competitively-priced portfolio.
In addition, Marflow is working on refreshing their portfolio with a number of new products which will further support brick and mortar retailers, as they won’t be available online.
Iain Reid continued “working closely in partnership with retail partners is a group strategy and one that we are passionately committed to. It’s the best way to establish long-term strategic relationships.”
That may not be the only change to the brassware business. Together with another recent addition to the Sanbra Group portfolio, radiator manufacturer Hilltop, it may see synergies in product development across companies, allowing brands to offer matching finishes across brassware and heating.
Looking ahead, with brand awareness across retail and specifier markets, the St James brand will also be developed over the coming years.
“We are looking to build on the excellent brand equity associated with St James in order to provide retailers with even more value-adding options going forward” added Iain Reid.
In addition, a dedicated specification team is in place for architects, interior designers, professional specifiers and retailers who are also involved in contracts.
Marflow will also be again exhibiting at the HIX show in London towards the end of the year.
Investing in the future
The Sanbra Group’s support and investment in Marflow is continuing apace.
Iain Reid added “We have ambitious plans in place for Marflow. We have created a new customer-focused website with tailor-made sections for retailers, specifiers and consumers, and are currently redesigning our literature in order to make things easier for our customers and homeowners alike.
“Refreshed POS displays are also being developed to help grow showroom sales. A new ERP system has recently been implemented to underpin operations and we are developing the talents of our people”.
With a network of nearly 700 retailers across the UK, the investment in product development, new finishes and options, stockholding and service is expected to help propel growth in the short to medium term.
Iain Reid concluded “Over the past two years, the business has been growing at 20% a year and we’re expecting similar advances this year and beyond.”