Laufen invite press to see their new basin

Who: EWE Kitchens

Reason for invitation: Visit to its newly opened 1,600m2 showroom in Wels, Austria, which features all three of its brands FM, EWE and Intuo in 26 displays. ln addition to the latest furniture ranges, the company unveiled itsVirtua| Design Studio. lt projects a l computer image of a door front, worktop and flooring onto a blank kitchen set.

Who: Rangemaster

Reason for invitation: Tripto its recently refitted showroom in Nottingham showcasing its new sinks and taps collection. Manufactured in the onsite factory, features of the collection include etched branding and a Microsheen finish. The company has also re-designed all the packaging to appeal to both the retailer and the consumer and make sure it arrives in good condition.

Who: Laufen. Reason for invitation: Selected press from 17 nations were invited to LaVufen’s Forum in Basel, Switzerland, to celebrate the launch of its new ceramic. Presentations from speakers including Patrick Goff and author Diccon Bewes took place within the Palomba-basin shaped concrete bui|ding.The company unveiled a 2960mm wide basin to show what the new material can achieve. Guests then went on tomake their own miniature Palomba basin during the tour of its factory.

AEG presents 50 kits to rugby clubs

School and local club teams have the chance to win a training day with the England rugby team, courtesy ofthe grassroots rugby campaign. All 50 teams have already won themselves an Ultimate Kit & Laundry Package, which includes 22 bespoke Samurai kits and a top-of-the-range AEG 9 series washing machine and tumble dryer: Now the teams will be looking for support of local communities, businesses, family and friends to vote for them to win this training opportunity.

ln addition, voters can win a holiday for four to the 5 star Forte Village resort in Sardinia, where their children will be coached by England rugby legends each morning, courtesy of Super Skills Travel. England player; Will Greenwood commented: “lt’s very simple. lf the team want an opportunity to learn from the best, they need to get everyone they know voting.

This is an incredible opportunity to not only learn from the players they idolise, but also from the team that coaches them.” AEG’s UK head of marketing Graham Bremer said: “Good luck to all of our AEG final 50 teams, we’ve built a fantastic community around our campaign and will continue to offer more opportunities like this to other grassroots sports teams.”

Beko back on T’V screens

Appliance manufacturer Beko has returned to TV screens with advertising that runs in Novembei: Each ad showcases a Beko product across the home laundry, cooking and cooling ranges of appliances; 9kg Excellence Washing Machine, Multifunction Oven and family- sized fridge range. Marketing director of Beko, Teresa Arbuckle commented: “This is our 2l st year of trading in the UK and we are extremely excited to be back on TV. The new campaign is a signincant investment for the brand and demonstrates Beko’s consistent support ofthe home appliance category. “Innovation is at the heart of what we do and we remain committed to providing customers with added value using the best technology possible at affordable prices.”

Plug showroom expands business

East Midlands bathroom retailer Plug has expanded its business and re-branded itself Plug ln Design. The company launched in 2009 and following a buy in by KCT Holdings Group, the directors have decided to expand the business by offering an interior design service. Plug In Design will be led by general manager Tony Robson and Hayley Tarrington, formerly head of design at CP Hart, who is now creative director Tarrington commented on the business expansion: “The creation of Plug In Design has been a natural progression for Plug Bathrooms.”

She added: “When our clients sawjust what could be achieved in their bathrooms, many expressed a desire to see what Plug could add to their bedrooms, kitchens and other living spaces. We specialise in thinking outside of a room dimension to make a space work harder to both impress and complement peopIe’s lifestyIes.” The business is also able to offer design solutions for architects, retailers and manufacturers, plus a custom- made furniture design, sourcing and supply service.

Miele wins best training provider

The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association has presented the KBSA supplier awards 2011, which recognise excellence in those companies that supply products to KBSA retailers. For the second consecutive year, the winners include Neff for best product supplier, Miele won the best training provider and a joint award was given to Omega and Mereway Kitchens/Wentworth for best display support.

The Franke Website now features a dealer locator which means stockists can be filtered according to distance and radius. The user simply needs to enter a postcode to see a list of Franke sink and tap stockists in their vicinity. For more information see www.franke.co.uk

HiB has published a 100-page brochure featuring its latest range of products, which fall into four product categories: LED back-lit cabinets and illuminated aluminium cabinets; back-lit mirrors and ambient light mirrors; freestanding furniture for cloakrooms and two mineral marble basins. The brochure features dimensional and technical information and can be viewed online at www.hib.co.uk

Kitchen furniture supplier, Mark David Enterprises has recently held a series of bespoke training for its dealers. The day course covered sales and customer care and was delivered by Graham Hayden. Dealers were trained on sales skills, buying motives and signals, negotiation and understanding body language.

Bathroom franchisee Ripples in Chicester celebrated its 10th year of trading, with an event at its showroom. Owned by husband and wife team, Nick and lane Rines, they held a party which attracted 30 local businesses. ln addition an auction, held at the event, raised £685 for Ripples nominated charity ‘Wherever the need’, which provides WCs for families in lndia.

US-based Fluidmaster acquires Opella

Manufacturer of cistern components, Fluidmaster has acquired Opella based in Hereford. Opella manufactures cistern filling and flushing products including Torbecj, Delchem and Opella Fill and Flush valves, cisterns, shower traps and sink strainers. “We’re excited to offer our global customers the benefits of the collective strength of both the Fluidmaster and Opella brands of products,” said Rober Andersonschoepe, chairman and CEO of Fluidmaster.

He continued: “This acquisition is just one example of how Fluidmaster constantly strives to build and strengthen our core business – and at the same time it signincantly broadens our portfolio of products.” Graeme Flowers, executive chairman of Opella, commented: “The opportunity to unite two great companies like Fluidmaster and Opella doesn’t happen very often. As an active participant in our industry, for the past 26 years, l look forward to the next chapter as a member of the leadership team for the new combined enterprise.

Rapsel bath stolen at Cersaie:

Italian bathroom manufacturer Rapsel had a number of products stolen from its stand at trade show Cersaie, including the Grandtour bathtub. According to Rapsel, its products were taken on Sunday, after the show closed its doors and both the exhibition organiser and police were informed.

A spokesperson for Rapsel commented: “It is so frustrating to have to record the criminal energy and unscrupulous behaviour of unprincipled individuals who do not shrink from destroying the fruit of months of hard work invested by others. “Nonetheless, the thieves will never stifle the creativity of Rapsel, its staff and designers, the development activities of whom will continue to flourish; their passion for exploring new materials unabated despite the theft.

“May this unfortunate incident ultimately prove a good omen for the future production ofthe Grandtour bathtub. Who knows? Soon showrooms around the world might well be able to claim that ‘Rapsel products literally Fly off the shelves’.”

Kitchen & Bathroom Forum is ‘meeting of minds’:

The Kitchen & Bathroom Forum held its third meeting at the offices of FIRA International in Stevenage, under The Chatham House Rule. This global Rule, which was devised to facilitate free speech, saw the meeting held strictly in private, preventing reporting of the identity or affiliation of any of the speakers.

Although some members called for the Forum to be an action group, for the time being it was decided that, the purpose ofthe meetings are to provide an opportunity for a ‘meeting of minds’. The two-hour meeting included marketing methods to help industry members secure more business and considered training that could lead to a qualification, setting and defining common industry standards.

The Forum also discussed ways of supporting existing initiatives such as Get Britain Building and Cut the VAT. It widened discussions to attend the next meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Furniture Group to be held at the Houses of Parliament, as well as explored inviting people from Government departments to discuss a range of industry issues. The next meeting ofthe Forum will take place at the Builder’s Merchants Federation HQ in London, at a date to be announced.

Neff Excellence Award winners

Built-in appliance manufacturer Neff has announced the winners of its third Master Partner Awards, this year held at The Natural History Museum in London. The event, which was hosted by TV celebrity Vernon Kay, saw nine awards presented to Neff dealers, including new categories for the Best Window Display and MasterPartner with the most creative and innovative Marketing Plan, which was awarded a £10,000 bursary.

The winner of the Supreme MasterPartner Award was presented to Kitchen Design Centre of Blackburn, Colne and Manchester, while winner of the Showroom Award was Denmore Kitchen and Bedroom Studio in Aberdeen. The winner of the inaugural Advertising & Marketing Grant Award was Two Guys Kitchens of Basingstoke in Hampshire and the winner of the Best Advertising and Marketing Award is The Kitchen Showroom of Sudbury in Suffolk.

Winners ofthe best kitchen design using Neff for up to £20,000 and over £20,000 were Ebstone Kitchens of Ealing in London and Colliers of Worthing in West Sussex, respectively. The Best Window Display was presented to Kitchen & Bathroom Technique of Wolverhampton, while the winner of Best Newcomer Award was Kitchen Matters of Milton Keynes.

Completing the award-winning line-up was The Kitchen Company of Uxbridge, who scooped the Anniversary Award. In addition, Neff dealers across the UK recently took part in the ‘World’s biggest coffee morning, to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. In total, 68 events were organised, raising £14,000.

Ideal Standard conclude sale of Middlewich site:
Ideal Standard International has concluded the sale of its Middlewich production site. The site has been acquired by Ours Sanitary Ware (Imperial Bathrooms) and as part ofthe deal, they will take over the land, building and equipment at the site.

It is not yet known whether the 249 jobs lost, will be restored by Imperial Bathrooms. A spokesperson for Ideal Standard commented: “We didn’t sell the site with employees to guarantee their jobs because at the time conversations were opened with Imperial Bathrooms, it was not clear that this was a credible or feasible option.”

Managing director of Imperial Bathrooms, H.J. Klomp commented: “With the acquisition of manufacturing facility in Middlewich, the Imperial Bathrooms Group have launched their presence in the UK market. Through its subsidiary Ours Sanitary Ware, it will re-start the facility over the next few months, leading to a total of about 150 jobs by May 2012. This deal will restore a manufacturing facility and many employment opportunities in a community that has served this business site for many geneiations.”

Ideal Standard has blamed worsening market conditions and a parallel trend of the demand for fewer ceramic pieces in bathrooms. Since 2008, ldeal 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 levels’ in 2012.

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 sanitary ware in Europe is thought to have decreased by 23% in terms of volume and by 30.7% in the UK between 2007 and 2010. The Development lndustrialisation centre located in Middlewich has relocated to Rugeley, with a small number ofjobs created.

Changes afoot at distributor BCG

At the time of going to press, it’s understood that key members of BCG’s senior management team may have left the bathroom and kitchen distributor Although it remains unconfirmed by Wolseley, it’s believed those who could have exited the business include managing director Chris Honer, commercial and sales director Andrew Lillywhite and marketing director Julie Butcher.

However a spokesperson for Wolseley UK said: “Changes are being made within the business. But it is company policy to always inform staff first in an internal announcement. She continued: “Once that announcement has been made, if we feel we need to make an external announcement, we will do so after that time.” A review of the Wolseley business, led by group chief executive Ian Meakins, saw 19 of its underperforming businesses put on a list to improve or sell. However; Wolseley has never named the businesses to be off loaded if they did not improve.

It is unknown whether BCG was included on the list alongside Bathstore, its chain of bathroom showrooms. However Wolseley has already disposed of Electric Centen following its disposal of tools and equipment firm Brandon Hire.

Roca opens £,10m London showroom

The Roca Group has invested more than £10 million in its latest gallery, located adjacent to Chelsea Harbour in London’s Imperial Wharf. The 1100m2 Gallery was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and is designed to represent water flowing through pebbles.

lt contains products by Roca and Laufen and is intended to be a design hub for everyone from architects and specifiers to students. The London Gallery is the fourth in the company’s portfolio, with galleries already existing in Barcelona, Madrid and Lisbon.

According to Georgina Spencer marketing manager of Roca UK: “lt’s a place where people can come to see the product in a different setting. They can come for an experience rather than to just see the product.” The company bought the space two years ago and Spencer says: “The challenges were to get everything right as everything is bespoke, even down to the tiles. Each one is unique.”

The space will be used as a showroom, meeting space, exhibition hall and event venue, as well as a place for dealers and retailers to take their customers to show them the Roca product. lt has been created from a range ofdifferent materials including fibre glass, concrete, resin for the floors, and gypsum. Managing director of Roca UK Alan Dodds, comments: “The whole idea is anyone can use the space, as long as it is complimentary to the brand and it brings the right people in. Every place you stand is different and the attention to detail is incredible. “At first, we weren’t sure how the product would look. But we are really, really pleased. The balance is just right.”

He continues: “It makes a statement about Roca’s seriousness about design and working with architects and designers. It is a statement of confidence in the UK.”

Managing director of Westin Design talks

What is your background? I started my working life in inventory control systems consultancy for many different industries. For the last twenty years, I have worked in finance and operations within retail businesses such as Lloyds Chemist Group, Holland & Barratt and Iatterly Bonmarché.

What does your experience in finance and operations bring to your new role? My more recent roles gave me a detailed understanding of all aspects of the companies I worked at. I was able to complete objective reviews on operational activity and financial implications. These skills enable me to adopt a strong commercial (and common sense) approach whilst still ensuring processes are in place to deliver quality, excellent customer service and efficiencies. I believe that being able to communicate well (both ways) ensures the best solutions are found and a strong team ethic instilled. I do, however appear to have been labelled a ‘numbers man’ by some. Whilst finance is obviously crucial to a business, ‘numbers’ merely give me an overview and indicate areas that may require attention.

Could you describe what attracted you to the kitchen industry, and in particular Westin Design? To be honest, it was Westin Design that attracted me to the kitchen industry rather than the other way around. It is a very exciting business that has carved a niche market in the UK. I spent a great deal of time researching the business before joining and quickly gained an understanding that Westin Design offers a total, quality domestic extraction solution not to be found  anywhere else. The team here has a great deal to offer and the experienced, quality service is only just beginning to be fully recognised. There is much more untapped potential in this business yet.

What is your business focus for the next three years? I intend to maximise growth whilst ensuring the overall customer experience of Westin Design is maintained and improved, where necessary. Additionally, we need to ensure that we have the necessary systems and networks in place to deliver new ideas and technology. ln order to deliver this, we have already invested in improving the structure within the business and updating machinery further We have also just completed building a new design and technology office to support our innovative approach.

What will be your starting point? Although we have a good customer base, this still needs to grow further Many designers are still unaware ofthe extent of Westin Design’s offering and tend to come to us for those ‘prob|em solutionsl We need to increase brand awareness and the fact that we have many standard, premium products. Westin Design is not solely a custom hood manufacturer but produces top quality solutions for all prestige kitchen installations. Additionally, there is huge potential for us with those design studios and architects for premium ‘contract’ developments.

You have been quoted as saying that Westin Design will be involved in ‘some exciting projects linked to energy efficiency? Could you now put some meat on  the bones and explain what the company is doing? We currently have a project underway that may overcome the problems associated with recirculation over higher performance hoods. I’m not in a position to expand further now but watch this space! We have now introduced more efficient blowers and fan options, the latest being our new ceiling built-in unit, the Stratus Compact. I am particularly proud of the fact that this flush-fitting unit will fit most UK ceilings whilst still housing a high efficiency and performance integral fan option. We are also exploring further opportunities relating to reducing power consumption on high performance external fan options.
What challenges are you set to face over the next 12 months and what will be your biggest challenge out of these? |’m pleased to say that I have no major ‘internal’ challenges. Manufacturing processes are constantly reviewed and we strive to improve efficiency without compromise to the quality of our products. The very nature of our products does not highlight the Westin Design brand to the end-user and so the biggest challenge is to get the message out to as many existing and potential new customers about what we do and how well we do it!

How will you benchmark your success over 12 months? lf we maintain sales growth in the current environment and get the frequent positive feedback from our customers, that we currently experience, l think we will have succeeded.

Ellis bathroom furniture shows new brochure – It’s not as good as ours!!

Crosby Kitchens has relaunched its website to showcase its latest 24-strong range of kitchen furniture. In addition, the site features details of product guarantees, a downloadable brochure, installation instructions, as well as a list ofdisplaying retailers, including its latest flagship store in Aberdeen. For more information visit www.crosby-kitchens.co.uk.

Ideal Home has featured the AEG T96699IH condenser dryer and the Zanussi ZRB634FX fridge freezer in two of its ‘best listsl The dryer appeared in a ‘three of the best’ condenser dryer list, while the Zanussi appliance featured in a ’lO Best Fridge Freezers’ list. Both appliances are featured in the November issue of the magazine.

Ellis Furniture has launched a bathroom range and a kitchen range brochure to support its latest launches. The 76-page bathroom brochure featuresrits entire range of fitted and modular furniture, plus handles, mirrored cabinets, tall cabinets, worktops, and an LED light. Kitchen furniture is shown in a 20-page supplement, including worktops, glass splashbacks and its handle range.

To increase the awareness of its stone products among interior designers, architects and developers, Cumbria-based Burlington has teamed up with London-based surface consultant SCIN. lt has secured display space in SCIN’s showroom, for its flooring. The display features two limestones, seven natural stones, all shown in a range of nine finishes.

Abode raises money for charity

Abode has donated £1,500 to the Safe Anchor Trust charity, which provides canal trips for special needs and socially disadvantaged groups. Each year, around Christmas, the Trust takes a number of children on a boat ‘to meet Santa in his grotto’. The donation from Abode will be spent on presents for the children.

A 500-page Technical Guide to aid with specification of its products has just been published by TK Components. The guide is available exclusively, as a download, on its website and is joined by an updated Everything Including The Kitchen Sink and Handle Collection brochures. To download the brochures, please see www.tkcomponents.co.uk.

Hansgrohe UK has redesigned its website and introduced a PRO specialists portal for retailers, merchants and designers. At the heart of the PRO area is the complete product catalogue, with servicing and installation instructions, planning data in 2D and 3D and information for client tenders and quotations. Take a look at www.pro.hansgrohe.co.uk

Staff from Halcyon Interiors, The Alno Store, took part in the Palace to Palace bike ride in aid of the Prince’s Trust. The 45-mile ride started at Buckingham Palace and ended at Windsor Castle, with all 11 staff successfully completing the challenge. They raised a total of £1,155 for the charity.

Pressalit show off new toilet seat designs

The @wall from ARTIQUA has been introduced by PELIPAL and is available in the UK through lnHouse. @wall uses aluminium profiles to allow users to restructure walls, in order to surround mirrors and lighting panels with wood or gloss décor panels. It is available in five grained woods in structured laminates and seven high gloss decor panels, as well as depths between 200mm to 250mm.

Expanding its TV Box offering, S-Box has added an integrated DVD player to its existing 19″ HD ready LED flat screen with Freeview. The TV Box pops up when firmly touched and can be pushed back down and out of sight when not in use. The top of the TV Box is finished in stainless steel, however it can be ordered as an under surface mounted option to allow the top to match a granite or worksurface material.

HiB has added two LED illuminated mirrors, Ella and Natalia, to its portfolio of products. Both feature an LED strip which surrounds the mirror surface, with Ella following a rectangular pattern and Natalia boasting more organic lines. Both have an anti-condensation pad, are activated by a chrome pull cord and can be hung as portrait or landscape.

Original Style has introduced a range of splashbacks, available in two size options of 600 x 750 x 6mm or 900 x 750 x 6mm. A choice of 23 colours are offered and customers can opt for a solid colour or a Metallic, Sparkle or Rainbow effect. Made from toughened glass, the splashbacks are heat resistant, hygienic and stain resistant. Co-ordinating upstands measuring 1000 x 104 x 6mm, which can be cut to fit around appliances, are also available.

After 75 years of designing porthole windows, Philip Watts Design  has launched SOLID. The range features a chunky retro design which sees the frame protruding off the door by two inches. A limited run of a circular design and rectangle with large radiused corners are available. The Philip Watts Design team has previously designed fire-tested stainless steel porthole kits for doors.

Danish WC seat manufacturer Pressalit employed two internationally-renowned artists Jon Burgerman and Sune Ehlers to create Calmo Doodle. The limited edition artwork features lines, drawings and random strokes. Only 100 editions of Calmo Doodle are available, worldwide, and are supplied in the UK by European Sales Agencies.