Suppliers: It’s a two-way street

Showroom consultant at Redstone Supplies Stacey Allen

17 May, 18

Showroom consultant at Redstone Supplies Stacey Allen says dealing with fewer suppliers helps protect profits and offers his business better support. But, he adds, manufacturers should push training to raise installation standards

I know a lot of people complain about the internet, but there’s nothing you can do about it, so there’s no point moaning about it.

What we’ve done is select product, which may have an online presence but the prices are not carved up, so we can compete.

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We did some research to find products that we wouldn’t be competing against online and I don’t think enough retailers do that.

I also think suppliers can be guilty of supplying their products everywhere.

We only deal with two or three manufacturers that will cover the whole market from budget to designer products, so I still have plenty of choice.

And the suppliers I deal with, I get good support from and that’s why I’m dealing with them.

But the reps do know, when they come in, if they don’t support me their products are out of the window.

We get a lot of support from Merlyn, Laufen, VitrA, HiB and Vado but we do spend quite a lot of money with them.

It’s a two-way street. I think a lot of retailers spread themselves too thinly, so they don’t mean enough to their suppliers.

Fitting falling down

Looking over the 25 years I’ve been in the market, the industry has improved with a lot more product choice, which makes it a lot harder work for us to learn all about them.

The quality of products is fantastic, especially from Europe, but the installation is different from your standard toilet from back in the day, which is what most plumbers are used to.

What has got worse is the quality of fitting because the plumbers don’t train up on the new products that are coming through – which are a bit different.

I often come across bathrooms where the plumber hasn’t fitted it properly or they’ve fitted it and it looks awful because they haven’t spent the time doing it.

I would send a lot of plumbers on fitting courses.  Then they will know how to fit the products. It’s just a day out of their week and that’s not much is it?

Training is lacking a little bit, in the bathroom industry. I think manufacturers should promote and push training a bit more.

I’ve just been on a two-day installation course with Aqualisa because I thought it would be useful for me.

It was so I could understand bathroom design from an installation point of view and I could pass that information on to my consumers, so they go away more knowledgeable about their bathroom.

We don’t have our own fitters. We have a list of recommended installers, which we give to the customer but we have vetted them ourselves.

I should state, quite clearly, I’m very pleased with the standards they achieve.

Bring back British

In an ideal world I would like to see more British manufacturers of sanitaryware and brassware but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen now.

There are a few about but they are all high-end and not for your everyday sales.

We sell products from Matki, Montose, Burbidge bathroom furniture and British Ceramic Tile.

German engineering is fantastic but I do like flying the flag for this country.

British manufactured products are better designed for the British market, such as the older housing stock, which would help the ‘traditional UK plumber’.

But going forwards, what I would like to see are more digital showers that are easier to use. Some of them can be overly complicated.

I think manufacturers sometimes over-complicate products, so they can offer something different.

Also I would like to see a digital shower with three outlets. A lot of people will have a bath fill, a hand shower and a fixed head over the bath and you can’t get that as a digital model, at the moment. That is what we are screaming out for!