JT signs deal with Konig for export

JT has signed a deal with Konig, a wholesaler in the upper Rhine region in Germany, to sell its bathroom products. Konig has T6 branches in eight showrooms to bring JT trays to the €2.2 billion German market.

JT manufactures over 5,000 trays a week and its JTNaturals collection will lead the export drive. Paul Crossley, managing director of JT, said: “This deal is the result of 12 months of market research and discussions, to establish the right partners to deliver our premium products into new export markets. The market in Germany has a strong focus on quality and design. With over 900,000 shower trays sold every year I am sure our new contemporary styles will  suit this particular product sector”

He continued: “We are really excited about this partnership and looking forward to expanding in Germany, with a view to increase our presence in other European and global markets.” Gunner Meister, the European agent who facilitated the deal, added: ” Since day one, we have been very impressed with JT’s capability and vision within the marketplace. With  efficient order-to-delivery times, plus their cutting- edge product design, we feel that we are investing in a brand that can compete with the wor|d’s best in the German market. JT’s focus on quality manufacturing, in particular the new JT Naturals Collection, was a major selling point and we are very much looking forward to expanding our partnership over the next 12 months and beyond.”

Lec  takes strong independent share:

Refrigeration appliance Lec has taken a strong share of the independent sector despite the declining market, according to data from Gfk. Lec’s retail sales in the independent sector grew in volume compared to the previous year. The figures show the company hold a share of 25.5% in the under counter category, which accounts for 20% of the overall market.

The growth was said to be due, in part, to the March 2010 launch of its A+ energy rated under counter products, endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust. Lec also demonstrated a strong performance in the 500mm combi category with its two door models, as well as  a 9.8% share of the tall larder and freezer sector David Garden, commercial director for Lec, said: “The market is volatile at present but to see such shares being delivered is exceptionally rewarding. “Our challenge now is to  maintain and build on this success, focusing on other growth sectors such as tall single door larders and freezers, which are really performing well, as some customers make the switch from chest freezers and side- by-sides.”

Latest from appliance manufacturers

To complement its fitted kitchen offer, Habitat has chosen appliances from CDA and Baumatic. The appliances will be displayed at five stores in Kings Road Chelsea, Tottenham Court Road in central London, Oxford, Cambridge and Lakeside Thurrock. It is expected they will be rolled out into a further 20 stores by Autumn.

The MAX 38 microwave from Whirlpool has just been awarded Which? Best Buy status and was recognised for its cooking, grilling and defrosting functions. Compact in size, the 750W microwave boasts a 13-litre capacity and a fuIl-sized 280mm turntable. It has a 600W Quartz grill for combi—cooking and jet Defrost programme.

Appliance manufacturer ATAG has created a troubleshooting resource centre on its website, for use by retailers and consumers. It offers advice on a wide range of topics in layman’s terms and can be used to download user manuals and order spare parts. Visit www.atagservices.co.uk to access the information.

Supplier of lighting and illuminated products, HiB has now been awarded LA accreditation, making the company a fully competent supplier It relates to low voltage lighting which is directed by EU compliance practice. It means HiB is independently audited on an annual basis and key technical staff are kept informed of legislation.

Kitchen furniture manufacturer Alno has scored a trio of international design awards for its Ivlarecucina and Alnostar Satina ranges. The nauticalIy-inspired Marecucina has received the German Design Council’s Interior Innovation Award. Both the Alnostar Satina and Marecucia were named Kitchen Innovation of the Year 2011 by Germany’s LifeCare consumer initiative.

Impulse Bathrooms seeks plant in Europe

Impulse Bathrooms has resolved to rectify supply issues, created by Chinese factory workers encouraged to return to agriculture, and grow sales with a ceramic factory acquisition in North West Europe. The group has achieved growth of 25% worldwide in the last three years and plans to grow through OEM manufacture and the commercial sector, with a complete range of Doc M.

As part of its growth plans for Europe, Impulse Bathrooms is seeking to acquire an established  ceramic manufacturing plant in North West Europe, with a strong preference for a UK location Group managing director of (parent company) Imperial Bathrooms Products, lan Klomp, will be relocating from his Far East base to Germany, where he will create a support team for activities in Europe and the UK.

lan Klomp commented on the recent issues dogging supply from its Chinese factory: “The launch of our new ranges at the KBB show, at the beginning of 2010, were so well  received we have had some delays in meeting orders – a situation we simply refuse to allow to continue” “We have therefore instigated major intiatives to urgently return to a full supply situation and manufacturing capacity has been specihcally allocated to fulfil the orders for the UK. In addition, new experienced labour has been brought in from outside China to expand production.” He continued: “Whilst we understand that, in common with most manufacturers, our supplies have not been l00% over the last  few months, this situation is now a thing of the past and we are progressing our strategic growth plan with consumer conhdence that production will soon be in- line with forecast demand.”

McLoughlin named Electrolux CEO

Electrolux has promoted Keith McLoughlin to the position of president and CEO ofthe company, from his role which saw him responsible for R&D, manufacturing and purchasing for major domestic appliances.

McLoughlin joined Electrolux in March 2003 as head of major appliances North America and served as head of major appliances Latin America from2004 to 2007.

Prior to joining Electrolux, McLoughlin spent 22 years working at the DuPont Corporation, where he held several senior management positions. He led consumer-brand  businesses such as Corian and concluded his tenure at DuPont as vice president and general manager of DuPont Nonwovens.

Tom Howley Bespoke Furniture sold

Tom Howley Bespoke Furniture has been sold to a subsidiary company of Neville johnson Holding, now called Tom Howley Limited.

The company, which specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of bespoke kitchens is at the high end ofthe market. Tom Howley Bespoke Furniture has showrooms in Altrincham, Alderley Edge and Eshei; a manufacturing base in Glossop and typically records annual sales ofaround £3 million.

Lindsey Cooper and Russell Cash, partners at Baker Tilly Restructuring and Recovery, were appointed joint administrators to  handle the sale of the company, which has been sold as a going concern. All 32 employee jobs were preserved as part of the agreement, as well as uncompleted contracts, which the buyer has agreed to complete. Lindsey Cooper commented: “We are pleased to have concluded the sale so rapidly for Tom Howley Bespoke Furniture. The company has an excellent reputation and it is great that the new owners will continue to trade and build upon that reputation. lt is an added bonus that all jobs remained intact as part of the sale.”

Ideal Standard proposes factdrv closures

Ideal Standard International has entered a 90-day consultation period over the closure of its Middlewich factory in the UK and two plants in France, axeing a total of 560 jobs. The company has blamed worsening market conditions and a parallel trend of the demand for fewer ceramic pieces in bathrooms.

Since 2008, Ideal Standard has implemented a series of measures, including reduced working hours, but it forecasts that ceramic sales in 2012 will not show a return to ‘pre-crisis |evels’ in 2008. Between 2007 and 2010, the construction and renovation market in Europe is said to have dropped by 19% in value and by 16.8% in the UK.
The market for sanitaryware in Europe is thought to have decreased by 25% in terms of volume and by 30.7% in the UK, between 2007 and 2010. The Development Industrialisation Centre located in lx/Iiddlewich will relocate to Rugeley, with a small number of jobs created. But it is expected there will be 249 job losses.

Ideal Standard issued a statement, which read: “The UK continues to be a core market for ISI and the company remains committed to maintaining a strong presence there. We will develop our business by investing in new  products to service the markets, strengthen customer service and continue to build our market competitiveness.

“The company and its management do not take these kind of decisions lightly, especially when it affects the livelihood of its employees. However the company believes that this is a necessary step to regain efficiency and to safeguard the company’s current position and future prospects in the ceramics industry across Europe.”

CEO of BSH UK Uwe Hanneck retires:

Uwe Hanneck, CEO of BSH UK, has retired after nearly 40 years heading up Neffand the BSH Group subsidiary, and has been succeeded by Michael Steinle. In 1972, Hanneck was tasked with establishing a British subsidiary for Neff, which was unknown in the UK. By the time he left the country, to run Neff France in l979, the UK turnover had reached over £13million.

He is widely credited for introducing the concept of selling kitchen furniture with built-in appliances as a ‘package’; a principle that is now established as an industry standard. ln 1981, Uwe Hanneck returned to the UK as MD of kitchen furniture manufacturer EW, Wrighton & Sons. But in l9S3 he returned to run Neff UK, when it was bought by the Bosch Siemens Home Appliances Group. In 1990, Hanneck became CEO of BSH UK, heading up Bosch, Siemens, Neff and Gaggenau brands in the country.

Hanneck has chaired industry bodies, including Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances (AMDEA) and the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom National Training Group (KBB NTG). He has been succeeded by Michael Steinle, CEO of BSH Huschallsapparater AB in Northern Europe, where he was responsible for Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and the Baltic states. Steinle started his career with BSH in 1982 as a graduate trainee in Siemens in Munich and has spent the past 28 years working for the group.

Appliance brand Zanussi has been awarded Best Buy status by Which?

Appliance brand Zanussi has been awarded Best Buy status by Which? online for its ZWFl479l W washing machine. The washing machine is A – 0% energy rated, with a 1400rpm spin speed and an 8kg drum. ZWFl479l W features Jetsystem+ intelligent technology which uses only the waten energy and time needed, according to the size of the wash load.

Waterline has announced the dates for its roadshows and hopes to attract 1,000 kitchen specialists across three events. The Southern Show will be held at Newbury Racecourse in Berkshire on May l9, with a Northern Show at the Mere Golf & Country Club in Cheshire on June 14. A three-day open house event at the Crown showroom in Daventry will run from june 21-23.

Food waste disposer manufacturer lnSinkErator has seen a 29% increase in UK sales year-on-year following its recent TV advertising campaign. The advertisements aired on the digital channel More 4, which shows homes programmes including Grand Designs and Location, Location, Location. The advertisements were aimed at enhancing awareness and promoting the benefits of food waste disposers.

Gorenje has published its first retailer newsletten which will be available to its stockists on a quarterly basis. The newsletter casts a spotlight on a key member of the Gorenje team, showcases a displaying kitchen retailer and features a light-hearted competition. Readers are encouraged to get involved with the newsletter by sending in their own stories, feedback and ideas.

Editors comment February 2011

While the news of Ideal Standards factory closure in Middlewich made for uncomfortable reading, I thought it was just another sign of the times.

Cold comfort, I know, for the 249 affected employees and their families. My heartfelt sympathies go out to them all. But, it seemed to signify an inevitable  turn of events for British sanitaryware production. After all, it followed hard on the heels of Twyford Bathrooms closing its Alsager factory and was only a matter of years behind Ideal Standard shutting plants in Stoke-in-Trent.

How many times have we heard companies talk about leveraging group strengths’ and ‘maximising scales of efhciency’? Or to put it more simply, source from other companies, within the same group, from countries with a lower cost base. It’s why mass production of high volume pieces no longer takes place in the UK, it’s just not cost-effective, leaving all but niche and complex product manufacture remaining. But, quite honestly, how long is it going to be until China gets that right, too?

Or so I thought. . .. Then, a glimmer of hope. It appears China may not have all the answers to sanitaryware production, as it has been suffering from the global recession too. According to Imperial Bathrooms, which is renowned for manufacturing in China, factory workers were encouraged by the Government to return to the fields, leaving them (among other suppliers) unable to meet demands. A situation, which we have been informed, has now been resolved. But to meet its future growth plans, Imperial Bathrooms has now chosen to expand its sanitaryware production out of China. Far away from the Far East, the company is seeking to acquire a ceramic manufacturing plant in the region of North West Europe, ‘with a strong preference for the UK! What a turnaround of events!

Fingers crossed they will opt for a plant in the UK, after all this country is awash with talented, experienced employees in sanitaryware production. While it would be foolhardy to suggest the two stories are interlinked, it does show there is more than one story in the bathroom industry. I guess as one factory door closes….

Let us be rational

Over the past four decades, kitchen furniture manufacturer Rational has grown from a craft business into an international kitchen brand. Having previously produced furniture in Melle – Riemsloh, the company has recently moved production to Walmunchen, Germany and Majano in ltaly.

High volume pieces of furniture are now produced at the Snaidero head quarters in Majano, while more sophisticated and special made products, like Atmos and Neos, are manufactured in Walmunchen. Craig Burgess Allen, UK national sales manager at Rational, explains why: “To continue to succeed in the current climate, over the last few years, Rational has made more effective use of group production”.

Adapting to change

Originally the company had seven production sites and rationalised these to selected the most high- tech plants. All the marketing, sales, IT and administration is based in Melle-Riemsloh, Germany. Whereas most of the materials came from Snaidero and therefore it was more cost effective to move some of the production there. Craig explains: “There has been no change to the product, it is still a true European product and 80- 90% of the parts are  international.” He continues: “Some people didn’t understand why there were three parts ofthe business but we still supply on time and it is a good product so it works for us.”

Adding to offer

Along with the production changes, Rational has also developed its product lines to meet the requirements of the market. It has introduced its Tio range at a lower price band and expanded product choice across its ranges. Craig says: “The retail market has held out well but the project market has shrunk. There is a ’wait and see’ approach from buyers in general and having waited for some months, buyers are getting back into the market. This is also the case for developers and specifiers.”

Purple reigns

To whet the tastebuds of buyers, there has been an increased development in materials, finishes and shapes within the Rational product ranges. Craig explains: “The greatest development within the last two years is the expansion of material available. New soft, smooth lacquers and book matched veneers, as well as options on and in glass have now been introduced to our ranges.’

Not least, the fashion-forward colour purple has been welcomed as an addition to the Rational portfolioi Craig goes on to say: “Style, function and fashion all matter A design without attention to any of these will lead to a lack of success. Designers need to keep abreast of new trends and planning solutions incorporating new materials.” The companys declared aim is to develop and produce kitchens ‘by people for people’, and the breadth of kitchens now available cater for a wide range of budgets.

Wood and porcelain

Rational showcased its latest, wide-ranging offer at its recent  hausmesse. A key theme of the show was the introduction of new woods, with oak and wenge Hnishes in the lower price range and a real wood veneer in the upper price segment. The Cult range introduced saw cut veneer with 22 mm thick fronts. In addition, the Cult furniture range also showcased a sliding door system made from Porcelain. Rational had used ceramic, measuring 6mm thick, for the doors. But it also revealed a worktop made from 4mm thick porcelain. In addition, unit variants were introduced to the Cambia and Onda ranges, with some cupboards featuring semi- circular fronts.

The talking point

But arguably one of stars of the Rational show was its Tio range. Craig comments: “We have introduced Tio at a lower price band.” It averages out to be around 30% less expensive than a typical Rational kitchen. As Craig says: “For style and price, Tio is up and coming. But whichever price group the kitchen falls into, it is still the same quality.”

Rational launched the Tio with a focus on the young house buyer lt started with six lacquers but has been extended by the inclusion of 18 high gloss finishes and 16 new soft lacquer finishes, as well as some options in glass. Tio is now available in a choice of 40 finishes. Craig explains: “To begin with, Tio had the price but not the choice.

However; as it is now available in so many different options, it has both.” He continues: “People are  looking for more space. They want focal points and features that work, as well as create the ‘wow’ factor A clever use of space and free flowing lines, and the use of imagination, are essential to people now.” And these features are shown in abundance at its showroom, which has been created to set a standard for its retailers. In fact, Craig cites this as a winning formula for the company.

He concludes: “RationaI’s success is based on our ability to create special environments with our dealers and their design expertise.”

What kitchen produscts to buy

The 1810 Company has launched the Quadduo 1020 IS sink in a satin stainless steel finish. lt features a one-and-a half-bowl, as well as a fu|l-size drainer. Quadduo 1020 IS sink is reversible and is available with three accessories including a colander; draining basket and wooden chopping board.

Burbidge has extended its painted timber collection with additional colour options. The collection now features 15 colours across Neutral, Bright and lndulgent palettes. Within the Neutral palette, are colours such as Chalk and Peppermint. The Bright palette includes Slate and lnk, while the Indulgent Palette includes Aubergine and Black.

Following investment into its factory, Stoneham can now offer its painted in-frame kitchen in any colour: Designers can match the units to fabric, ceramic, paint or flooring samples. This bespoke service adds to the existing palette of eight standard colours.

Expanding its appliance offering, has launched the Vario 200 series of domino hobs. There is a choice of eight appliances in the collection, spanning a gas hob, gas wok, induction hob and teppan yaki. All appliances in the Vario 200 series collection are Hnished in a choice ofaluminum or stainless steel.

Wine cabinet manufacturer Eurocave has introduced the Compact 59 range, which offers a choice of one-temperature and multi-temperature units. Both temperature options are available in a choice ofsmall, medium and large capacities. The cabinets also feature an alarm system, sliding shelves and a choice of door front.

Steamwave, a counter-top steam oven with a built-in microwave and grill has been launched by Sharp. Steamwave has a capacity of 27 litres and features a 900W microwave, plus a 100W grill. lt is available in black, with a choice of stainless steel or red trim and boasts 18 pre-programmed menus, as well as two steam trays and a glass tray.

Adding to its Ambient line of appliances, Whirlpool has introduced the AKZM 756WH single oven in white. A-rated for energy efficiency, the oven boasts a 67-litre capacity and features five functions including defrost, as well as a variable grill. In addition, the AKZM 756WH single oven features retractable control knobs and a double-glazed door.

Falmec has introduced a white gloss finish to four of its cooker hoods; Mira, Polar, Plane and Stealth. Mira White, Plane White and Polar White are all available as a wall-mounted or an island version. Stealth is available with a glossy white finish or in a matt black finish, and comes as a wall—mounted version only.

New for kitchens – produscts and services

Expanding on its kitchen furniture offen ln Toto has introduced a traditional range and added to two of its contemporary collections. ln-Frame has been launched as a traditional kitchen range, while handleless models and matt V gloss doors have been added to the in – line range.

Completing the line-up of latest additions, ln-Toto has added finishes and door sizes to its ln-Style collection, which now totals 57 doors in   a choice of 15 colours.

Schmidt has launched Evolution 130 kitchen furniture, based on a combination of six 130mm drawer heights to create 780mm base units. The base units can be combined with four plinth heights from 70mm to 200mm. Three worktop thicknesses are also available from 14mm to 78mm, with the maximum and minimum level of the worktop between 864mm and 1058mm.

K Kitchens has introduced the Alaska Designer kitchen range to its collection. The range features white gloss lacquered doors with integrated handles, available in a variety of unit dimensions. The Alaska Designer range includes a curved base and wall unit, as well as a choice of unit accessories and LED lighting solutions.

Kitchen products for 2011


ln terms of cooling appliances, the trends are most definitely pointed towards preserving food for longer to reduce wastage. “Smart cooling technology will be a key trend in refrigeration for 2011 – creating the right storage conditions for the right foodstuffs’ reports Constanze Fuz, senior product manager of cooling at BSH.

And commercial director for GE at GDHA, David Garden, agrees: “As reducing food waste continues to climb the agenda, consumers will be looking to their cooling appliance to maximise the lifespan of fresh food.”


Once the black sheep of the appliance sector, these lumbering beasts have now turned into sleek, stylish extractors which can be on show or concealed. Juliana Sado, brand communication manager for Whirlpool, comments: “Vast improvements in design and technology have since resulted in such a complete turnaround, that the cooker hood has become an almost iconic fashion statement ofthe kitchen.”

She points out the future design of hoods is based upon automatic sensors which detect cooking odours and room pollutants, perimeter aspiration and silent systems to offer  noise reduction.