Product and marketing director Angela Neve and sales director Lee Palmer of VADO explain how the company continues to support bathroom retailers
Q: How has business been over the last eighteen months?
Angela Neve (AN): Despite the constraints COVID-19 has had on the bathroom industry, VADO has demonstrated resilience and adapted quickly, performing above market average throughout the last 18 months.
VADO’s diversity of offer, serving multiple markets and sectors, has enabled the business to focus on channels that have operated during lockdown, while preparing to support retail customers as and when they have been allowed to reopen.
There has been a notable change in consumer spending patterns, in the last year, with VADO seeing demand for more RMI orientated products as consumers look to invest in their homes.
Q: What have been the greatest learning points during the pandemic?
Lee Palmer (LP): During the pandemic, it has really shown how much our team and customers mean to us as a business and how we’ve pulled together to support one another.
When shops were allowed to reopen, we made it our priority to make sure customers could open as safely and confidently as they could, with our Reignite Retail initiative.
We supplied them with COVID-secure kits including hand sanitisers, floor directions and social distancing signage for use in their stores.
The pandemic also gave us the opportunity and time to review our processes and work on how we can be more efficient in our day-to-day tasks, providing our customers with the best VADO experience.
Q: According to Norcros Group’s latest financial report VADO seems to have gained ground in OEM and the merchant sector but what are your plans for the independent bathroom sector?
AN: Independent bathroom retailers have always been incredibly important to Vado, and it remains our top priority to support them in every way we can.
We have increased our brand and product portfolio to better support our customers who operate in different sectors, with OEM being one of several strategic pillars that make up our wider development strategy.
OEM, alongside our branded offer, allows for enhanced category management for our larger accounts and enables consumers to make an informed choice to trade up through our portfolio.
At VADO we believe in listening to the feedback of our customers, introducing our value portfolio Axces by VADO to support our trade counter retailers, targeting plumbers and fitters looking for quality products at a more competitive price point.
We continue to invest in all our brands, VADO, Individual by VADO being our premium offer and Booth & Co our traditional range to ensure we have something to suit every retailer and their customers’ aspirations.
VADO has launched several new collections in the last 12 months and there is more to come during the remainder of 2021 and early 2022.
Our most recent introduction, Knurled X Fusion has been one of our most well received product launches to date.
LP: Our independent retail customers are key to VADO, and they are what our business has been built from. Our direction and strategy is to continue supporting our bricks-and-mortar showrooms whilst growing and expanding our customer base, introducing the VADO brand portfolio to more independent retailers.
Q: The brassware sector seems to be very busy with newcomer brands launching into the market, so how are you responding to this challenge?
AN: At VADO we never allow ourselves to become complacent. We believe our products, services and aftersales are some of the best in the industry and look for continuous improvement in all that we do.
We offer remarkable support to our customers and invest in them, offering high quality displays, a wide selection of consumer literature and seasonal promotions, along with our dedicated sales team to ensure we put our customers at the heart of everything we do.
We have a comprehensive five-year product development pipeline and thorough commercialisation process to ensure we stay ahead of market trends.
As a result, we are in a strong position to take advantage of demand for bespoke design, high-quality products.
Q: How are you combating global supply issues and what impact has it had on the company?
AN: Over the last six to eight months we have invested in increasing our stock holding to provide higher levels of product availability.
We have a robust forecasting process which ensures we regularly review demand trends, whilst increasing our lead-times accordingly.
LP: We work hard to manage our customer expectations and ensure we communicate with them regularly, giving them as much information as we can.
We pride ourselves on being open and honest where we have found issues, working closely with our clients to change products and give alternative options wherever possible.
Q: Have you had to raise prices or plan to raise prices in 2021/2022?
AN: Over the past year we have incurred unprecedented increases in transportation and raw material prices leading to Vado introducing a 6% surcharge in May 2021.
Over the coming four months we will continue to monitor these key drivers with a view to determining next steps for 2022 later in the year.
Q: What will be the biggest challenges for Vado over the next couple of years?
AN: We are seeing consumers becoming more knowledgeable, often doing extensive online research before they even step foot into a showroom environment.
At VADO we want to make the purchase journey as easy and enjoyable as possible, via our retail partners.
We have invested in lifestyle photography to spark the imagination and marketing support for easier product selection, while directing customer purchase enquiries via our website to the nearest independent retailer.
We have launched the industry-first VIV app, which allows customers to see our products to scale in 3D augmented reality, and cuts down on printed material which is better for the environment.
We know there is a lot more to do but we have exciting plans and continue to invest in marketing alongside our retailer network.
Q: What will be the biggest retail opportunities for VADO?
AN: We are going to continue to invest in our brand portfolio and support our customers at different price points.
We want to further develop our brands and collections to expand our offering as well as our customer base and allow our retailers to increase their market share.
We are seeing more consumers looking for a more tailored, individual look which reflects their personality.
There is an opportunity to create more distinctive and design driven products which is where I see VADO really thriving.
LP: Our retail focus is growing our sales by working with the exciting new product development we have coming up, as well as the opportunity to introduce the VADO portfolio to high-end, luxury showrooms.
I’m also incredibly excited for our team to be getting back out on the road, meeting customers which is something we have truly missed over the last 18 months.