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Abode and Fiora

ABODE

Helen Clark has been promoted to marketing manager at Abode, following her introduction to the company last year. In her new role. Clark will be responsible for the advertising dnd PR programmes, brochure production, plus ecommerce and e-marketing campaigns. She will also look after direct mail, POS and market research, as well ds work closely with director Darren Holliday on future plans.

FIORA

Spanish furniture manufdcturer Fiora has strengthened its sdles team with the appointment of Neil Jarman who brings with h m 32 years’ experience in the sales industry Jarman will cover the South West and South Wales and will be responsible for driving activity in the trade and commercial project sectors. His new role will olso include the promotion of the company’s bespoke shower trays and specialist services.

Mereway adds natural wood veneers to their kitchen ranges

The Ultero professional-style kitchen mixertap from Abode is available in chrome and features a slim black handle and close-coupled, easy-to-clean hose. The tap is operated with a single leven which allows for one-handed control of flow and temperature. ln addition, it has a tall movable spout and benefits from a pull-out handspiay and black aerator on the end of the hose, matching the handle.

Mereway has added natural wood veneers and glazed units to its Italian-inspired Cucina Colore collection. The kitchen units come in a choice of sizes, including tall units measuring 1500mm wide. ln addition, Cucina Colore also features living furniture, which includes media units, low cupboards and shelving.

Abode taps now for the bathroom

Abode introduced taps for the kitchen and the bathroom, spanning a hot water model and aluminium shower panels, as well as adding to its sinks collection. One of the stars of the stand was Candour stainless steel taps for the bathroom. The range includes basin and bath taps, a freestanding bath Ellen thermostatic deck-mounted bath filler and a matching thermostatic post shower.

Adding to its appliance portfolio, CDA introduced extractors, a linear gas-on-glass hob, A – rated electric ovens, an accessory drawer, plus black glass wine coolers. Alongside these latest additions however, it showcased a range of concept models. These included a built-in Grill Drawer, set to be launched in September; through to patterned hobs and extractors. lt even showcased its sensor touch oven in a patterned gold exterior with a plain gold interior.

Britannia Living launched a partnership with Bertazzoni, becoming the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor of its range cookers and built-in appliances. The company was established in 1882 and is family-owned, headed up by CEO Paolo Bertazzoni. The built-in range features steam ovens, microwaves, through to coffee makers and warming drawers, with its top-of-the- range oven also featuring ‘The Assistant’, which suggests a variety of cooking methods for particular foods.

Managing director ofjetstone John van den Heuvel showcased the heat resistant properties of its ceramic surfacing with two blowtorches. First used in the commercial market, jetstone ceramic stone has a minimum thickness of 3mm and comes in 3550 x 1200mm. It can be used for worksurfaces, wall cladding, furniture cladding and even for flooring.

Abode design team gets a fresh face

Mark Staweczny has joined the Abode design team, bringing with him a first-class degree in Product Design and three commendations in design competitions. Staweczny has previously worked for an international design company developing toys, as well as a specialist company designing and manufacturing playground equipment. Abode believes his background will provide him with the motivation to become a distinguished innovator within the team.

Annie Dwan has been appointed by Franke to work in its customer services department. Having previously held roles within the airline industry and IT sector the company believes she is well qualified in customer care, helping to liaise with retailers and distributors. She brings with her an A+ Microsoft-certitied engineer qualification in networks and PCs and Hands On Technology Transfer training.

EQ Software has appointed Richard Willetts as area business manager covering the Midlands and Wales. Willetts brings with him 35 years’ experience, having worked for a number of companies including Mereway as area sales managen and business development roles at Bowood Cabinets and Pennwood Furniture. He is returning to the company, having previously worked for them in 2001 .

Fluid operation – Abode kitchen taps

When Abode burst onto the kitchen will   scene, just ten years ago, it ripped up the rulebook of tap design. The newcomer set out its stall – literally – at kbb Birmingham, with a 40-strong range of contemporary kitchen taps in a never-seen-before visual presentation. All the taps were designed, not only to wow retailers and their customers, but were created to be easy to fit and win the hearts of installers too. But the products and stylised presentation were just two of the ways that Abode set about building a brand by “doing things differently” as managing director Darren Holliday likes to say.

This progressive approach to design was combined with a healthy disregard for the ways of doing retail business. And by offering distributors larger-than-average profit and next-day delivery, Abode quickly became a kitchen brand to be reckoned with. Darren Holiday says he couldn’t have imagined that his business would be so successful: “My ambition was to have a company turning over £3million and it’s now £10million. We estimate that last year we were responsible for 24-25% of the kitchen tap market.”

Back from the brink

But of course it wasn’t always that easy. Darren had to sink his savings into the company and even put his house on the line. “Halfway through the second year l was probably two months’ away from it all going’ confesses Darren. He says: “I had a few final things I could have sold, like my mother but not much left. He continues: “l’d underestimated how long it would take for the distributors to get enough confidence in what we were trying to do. But as soon as they started telling people, the business turned around in a matter of three months. We went from nothing to having a business that was making operational profit month-by-month. By the end of my second year I’d recovered all the losses of the first year and in year three, we made profit.”

Extending the brand

But that was then, and we are very much in the here and now. Abode has extended not only its product portfolio, but its customer base. Alongside its retail kitchen tap brand, Abode now successful trades in OEM, which is about 60% of its business. And it has added to its kitchen tap offer with sinks and bathroom brassware. At kbb Birmingham in 2010, it introduced a 68-strong range of kitchen sinks, which Darren says are “going like a train.”

ln fact, national distributor PWS has become a key supplier: And, having revisited its bathroom product offen which it launched four years ago, it is now experiencing good growth in those sales, too. Darren says: “We launched bathrooms and we got it wrong, if I’m honest. The logic [was] the suppliers were broadly the same, the customers were broadly the same. It wasn’t quite as it worked out in the end. The suppliers weren’t the same and the customers weren’t the same. So, it was a case of discovering a brand new market and a new set of customers.” But undeterred Darren reconsidered the way to approach the market.

He continues: “We re-engineered the structure of the operation and it took off We are just about to go national with Travis Perkins in their new Endeavour bathroom store concepts, as they have ‘good, better; best’ branding and they are putting Abode in as the best brand. We have three national bathroom distributors on board and one high-end department store, which is about to launch bathrooms into all its stores.”

Launching at KBB

And unsurprisingly Abode is set to further evolve its bathroom offer; which will be revealed at kbb Birmingham. Well, what else would you expect from such a forward-thinking company? Darren explains what visitors to its stand can expect to see: “What you’l| see at kbb is a refreshing of the [bathroom] proposition. There will be lots of new products, [with a focus on] making thermostatics more accessible and look nice. We’ve got some new showers with deluge arrangements, and they will be working on the stand.” But, the story of the stand will notjust be about bathrooms.

Abode is also set to launch more kitchen taps too. And, it could be wagered, a talking point of the show will be its Triana tap. Originally designed for the German market, where consumers favour single lever designs – nothing unusual there you may think – but it is a filtered water tap. Twisting a black collan circling the tap body, dispenses the filtered flow. Darren explains how product development and showcasing its launches at exhibitions continues to help create a successful brand: “We’ve been consistent and that’s key to a brand – consistent messaging, consistent visual appearance and turning up at the trade shows.

Retailers have to feel confident in who they are dealing with and so if we decide to go one year because it’s a good year and not the next, it will be noted. We’ve actually designed more new products from scratch in the recession years, then we did in the good years. We’ve carried on growing, all the way through the recession. And l take it, if we’re growing financially and the market is going backwards – we are capturing market share.”

Investing in technology

But Darren is not only keen to continue investing in product design but in his business structure too. He is using technology to further improve Abode’s relationships with its customers by investing £80,000 in a new computer system that links to the telephone. Darren explains: “When somebody rings up, and it’s been catalogued they’ve rung up before, their accounts come up on the screen. So it will be ‘Hello Mrs jones. I see you rang in November 2007 about your tap, what can I help you with today?’”

He continues: “We’ve also just introduced a new email marketing system for retailers, which tells us if they opened it and where they travel from the email – do they look at sinks, kitchen taps, the bathroom collection? For example, If we’ve got a kitchen showroom, looking at bathroom brassware, they may be thinking of opening a bathroom side to their business, which we can help them with.”

Future is fluid

Now Darren believes the business is at a point where it can really start to drive penetration, as he explains: “Compared to our major competitors, we are still a relatively small fry.” And with the strides of Abode in the last 10 years, it’|| certainly pose a challenge to its competitors. His eyes are already firmly focused on the future.

In fact, Darren is emphatic: “ln 50 years’ time, I want Abode to still be in the market. I’ve created it to be a long- term biand. The Abode brand could cover the whole home.” He muses, thoughtfully: “Maybe by that time we’ll be [designing and manufacturing] whole bathrooms or even designer sofas. It’s designed to be a fluid operation.”

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.

Abode will showcasing 2 granite sinks

Abode will be showcasing two granite sinks, as well as a collection of taps impired by contemporary and modern takes on classical designs. Candela will be among the launches, along with single lever imodels Pura and Kevo. ln addition, Abode will be launching 10 upmarket taps aimed at the “quintessentiaIly British’ end ofthe market.

Euroline Sales & Marketing, importer for Italian appliance brands Bamzza and Falmec, will be exhibiting at this year’s kbbLondon. Showcasing products from both companies, it will include additions to FaImec’s Luxury collection of extractors. These will be joined by a collection of bespoke hobs from Barazza, entitled B_Free Fusion.

German Rot Punkt kitchen furniture, available in the UK through Waterline, will be showcased at the exhibition in a free-flowing zoned space. It will feature Urban Wild Oak, an island in Luxio matt white lacquer and media centre in Lucido high gloss black. Also featured on the stand is the Franke Centinox sink, introduced to celebrate Franke’s 100th anniversary.

LG launches new freezer

Extending its refrigeration offering, LG has introduced the GM5148AEQV multi-door fridge freezer. Boasting an A+ energy rating, the fridge freezer also features the company’s Unique Linear Compressor Technology. The appliance features an auto-flip door; folding shelf and bright LED lighting.

Samsung has entered into the buiIt-in refrigeration market with its RL27TEFSW fridge freezer. The unit boasts a 265-litre capacity, with a T93 Iitre fridge and 72-Iitre freezing capacity. RL27TEFSW features seIf-cIosing hinges, LED temperature indicator lights and a Power Cool mode. It measures 1770 x 558 x 540mm and is A++ rated for energy.

Adding to its collection, Abode has introduced the Matrix R0 sink iange which is guaranteed for 10 years. The range comprises of six sinks and includes a small half bowl sink through to a large double bowl, all without drainers. A selection of accessories are available to complement the range, including a stainless steel colanden black silicone bowl mat and a drainer rack.

Expanding its Lexington kitchen range, Ellis Furniture has introduced Lexington Gloss Cream to its offering. The Gloss Cream units have been teamed with the Intrigue Gloss Olivewood range. The doors are also available in Gloss Applewood and are supplied on an 18mm glued carcase. The Lexington Gloss and Intrigue furniture ranges come in a variety of sizes and have a tive- year guarantee.