Shane Knight discusses what to look out for bathroom-wise in 2015.
According to the latest polls from 2014, it’s fair to state that the general feeling amongst those in the bathroom industry – from merchants through to distributors – has been largely optimistic and, even during the early stages of this year, this looks set to continue.
“There are a few notable drivers behind the steady increase of bathroom sales which are worth being aware of and at F & P we are dedicated to helping merchants build upon these factors and generate growth in sales. Perhaps one of the biggest drivers behind the improvements to bathroom sales is record high levels of consumer confidence, which have grown significantly from 2008. Not only has this impacted the amount of consumer goods being purchased, but has also led to an improving housing market, which is having a positive effect on the bathroom industry as a whole.
Within the house-buying market demographic, the desire to increase a property’s value has had a profound impact on the sales of bathroom suites and commodities. As more people are now getting onto the housing ladder and as a result are looking to do up their homes, which of course includes the bathroom. Whether people are purchasing an entire new bathroom suite or a single product, such as bath or basin, the most important thing for merchants is to offer variety so that every opportunity can be capitalised on.
In addition there has been an increase, however shy of government targets, in the number of new-build homes being constructed nationwide – particularly in the popular South and South East areas of the UK. Contractors selecting bathrooms suitable for new-build homes are also shaping the bathroom market and helping to highlight the most popular bathroom styles going into 2015.
Having listened to merchant feedback and appraised the bathroom market figures from last year, we predict the mid-priced bathroom sector will continue to hold a large share of all sales, with the possibility of surpassing the 50% mark. Research also indicates that people are more likely to spend slightly more updating the bathroom, with the focus on long-lasting quality opposed to mass produced products that do not always offer the same guarantee of quality.
Because of this, at F & P we have spent the last 12 months developing our mid-priced bathroom ranges, to offer merchants stylish suites but with an affordable price point. Having invested heavily in our own-brand ranges – Jika by Roca, Rina and Fresssh – we are ideally positioned to help merchants provide mid-priced bathrooms and simply deliver more.
With the promise of a positive start to 2015, investing in showroom displays and setting out popular bathroom suites is another way to help merchants capture sales, this time directly from the homeowner. Increasingly we find homeowners are visiting their local plumbing and heating merchant in order to get an idea of the types of bathrooms on offer, so by showcasing products in a suitable environment, much like a retailer would, this will only increase the likelihood of a sale through your customers and ultimately the end user.
To capitalise on the general upturn, we would recommend that merchants focus on growing their mid-price bathroom ranges and look to develop more consumer-friendly counters going into 2015 and at F & P we are ready to help you every step of the way.
Shane Knight is category director – bathrooms at F & P.