Roper Rhodes | “Business as usual but with new opportunities”

Managing director of Roper Rhodes Leigh Leather explains what its recent acquisition by Swedish bathroom group Svedbergs means for the UK business and its customers

26 Sep, 22

Managing director of Roper Rhodes Leigh Leather explains what its recent acquisition by Swedish bathroom group Svedbergs means for the UK business and its customers

Roper Rhodes | "Business as usual but with new opportunities”

Bath-based bathroom company Roper Rhodes has recently been acquired by Swedish bathroom group Svedbergs.

It has seen the Dalstorp-headquartered company double its net sales and re-enter the UK market, as the Svedbergs brand was previously sold in the UK through distribution. But what does it mean for the UK-based Roper Rhodes?

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“Largely speaking, it’s business as usual but with new opportunities, presenting themselves as part of a wider group of bathroom design and manufacturing businesses”, says managing director of Roper Rhodes Leigh Leather.

He explains: “There have already been multiple visits by our NPD team to Svedberg’s factory to observe their design and production process.

“However, it is a balanced relationship, as Roper Rhodes is the largest company within the group as regards revenue and staff, so group companies can learn from our business, and we have been welcoming many of their key personnel over to our head office as well.”

Joining group

Joining a group which includes the bathroom brands Svedbergs and Marco Design in Sweden, as well as Cassøe in Denmark, how does the Roper Rhodes fit within the portfolio? And will the UK business keep the brands of Tavistock and R2?

Roper Rhodes headquarters

Headquartered in Bath, Somerset, Roper Rhodes was acquired by Svedbergs Group at the end of last year


Leigh Leather is adamant: “Our portfolio will remain as it is. We already hold the largest share of the bathroom furniture market in the UK, so we feel are doing something right.

“And we want to continue with this. Our R2 brand has seen spectacular growth over the last few years, and Roper Rhodes and Tavistock have also continued to grow too.”

Although he won’t be drawn on whether the acquisition will see Roper Rhodes start to sell the Svedbergs brand in the UK, Leigh Leather comments: “Whilst Svedbergs have some brand recognition and appreciation with some bathroom retailers and designers in the UK, the UK market has not been a geographical focus, so far for the brand.

“We were not acquired so that Svedbergs or any other of the Group’s brands could be launched in the UK market.”

But he concedes: “Of course that is one of the potential future opportunities that could lie ahead as a result of the acquisition, but not the reason or driver behind it.”

Control what you can

It’s certainly been a busy time for Leigh Leather who took over the role of managing director in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. He succeeded Paul Roper, who led the company for 10 years.

Roper Rhodes warehouse

As part of an ongoing environmental commitment, Roper Rhodes has announced a “substantial” investment to install solar panels on top of its distribution centre in Portbury, Bristol


Leather has equally had an established career of more than 25 years in the bathroom industry but, even so, he has navigated some of the most volatile market conditions.

He says his biggest point of  learning has been to control what you can, as he explains “There have been so many headwinds and challenges which are out of our control, from COVID, sea freight increasing ten-fold, spiralling commodity, energy, fuel prices, rampant inflation and now a crumbling Pound Sterling.

“However, those factors are out of our control, what we can control, is stock, service, quality and product development.”

Roper Rhodes Marston

Roper Rhodes offers a choice of three brands, Roper Rhodes, R2 and Tavistock which now features Marston furniture as part of its Classic Collection


While the global supply chain has affected operations at Roper Rhodes, like many of its bathroom competitors. Leather exclaims the company has “good” stock levels of “high product availability”, for its merchant and retail showroom customers.

“I’m pleased, and hope our customers are too, that our availability has not dropped below 96% OTIF during the past two years and is currently at 98.8% across over 4,500 stocked items”, says Leather.

And its ability to service its customers has been recently rewarded by the PHG buying group who awarded Roper Rhodes winner of its Instinct and Overall Supplier of the Year categories, at its annual awards.

Of course, the company has had to tackle inevitable price rises due to increased demand and the pressure that places on raw material availability.

“It’s a really difficult situation but it’s also vital for both our customers and us we maintain our operating margins, because it’s this that allows us to invest in product availability, delivery, customer service and field sales support in addition to a continuous stream of new product development, all of which are the key to our and our customers success.”

Product focus

In fact, Roper Rhodes strategy is to have major product launches every year, in every product category, for all brands.

Roper Rhodes | "Business as usual but with new opportunities” 2

Its most recent product development has resulted in the Red Dot Design Award-winning Loop wall and magnetic vanity mirror, which can be placed anywhere on the mirrored surface.


Its most recent product development has resulted in the Loop mirror, which received an international Red Dot Design Award.

Leigh Leather exclaims: “We have enjoyed strong double-digit growth during this period. In reality, if you haven’t been growing sales revenues in at least double digits, you’ve probably been doing something wrong or missing out!

“That said, this year could be (depending on the performance in the second half of 2022) our 10th consecutive year of sales growth since 2012 with our average growth being around 10% per annum.

“What has been marked though is that well as seeing an increase in sales for what the company is most recognised for – furniture, we also saw significant growth in many of our other product categories such as mirrors, sanitaryware and brassware.

“In fact, this year over half our sales revenue will come from our other product categories.”

Retail brand

As for its future plans, Leather says is to carry on driving customer satisfaction and delivering innovation through product development.

Roper Rhodes | "Business as usual but with new opportunities” 3

With a commitment for major product launches every year, in every product category, in all of its brands, the latest additions to R2 include a 600mm wallmounted two drawer unit and Marine shower in black


The company has expanded its field sales team, which now totals more than 38, to serve retailers and has four display and installation teams working across UK & Ireland.

In addition, it has three mobile showrooms, one for each of the Roper Rhodes brands, to take product launches out to customers.

Embracing digital marketing, Roper Rhodes has also optimised bathroom-related searches to drive traffic to the company’s website. Leather explains it has “resulted in over 85,000 visits to our Find a Stockist pages”.

While Leather believes the biggest challenge for Roper Rhodes will be “retaining our culture and DNA and making sure we continue to focus on customer satisfaction and product development above all else. That won’t be easy now we are part of a larger group and a Plc.”

He points out: “But Svedberg Group is focused on designing and manufacturing high quality bathroom products, which is why we were very comfortable it would be a good ‘home’ for the Roper Rhodes business once Mark and Paul Roper decided to sell the company last year.”

Although the company is growing sales through the project channel, Leigh Leather estimates 80% of Roper Rhodes business is still through retail and that it remains a showroom brand.

He concludes: “As an independent family-owned business for over 40 years, we have grown working largely with independent family-owned businesses and retailers and we do not plan to lose sight of that.”