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CP Hart introduce 5 new collections

C.P. Hart`s flagship showroom in London`s Waterloo recently introduced five bathroom collections into the UK, including three exclusive to the company. Joining the Décor and Regolo ranges from Artlinea, and the iSpa range from Gessi, CP. Hart also showcased The Wanders Collection, from Bisazza Bagno, created by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

He has worked with brands as diverse as BEtB Italia through to MAC cosmetics and this is his first bathroom collection. The Wanders Collection includes two ranges; the Baroque-inspired Antiques Series and the contemporary Architectural series. The Antique series includes gothic-influenced consoles with matching minors, in black or white, while the Architectural series features sleek-lined fumiture. However, at the heart of the collection is a large soap bar-styled bath and basin, which features Lobster Red brassware.

Plus, there is a chandelier shower head crafted from crystal and which lights up. Marketing director of C.P. Hart, Nigel Palmer led a question and answer session with Marcel Wanders, about the inspiration and thoughts behind the collection. He then opened up questions to the audience of architects, interior designers and developers who asked about Wanders’s thoughts on design.

CP Hart has introduced the Goccia brassware collection

Adding to its offer, CP Hart has introduced the Goccia brassware collection from Gessi. The collection comprises basin taps and showenweads and has been inspired by the fluid and natural shapes of water Goccia brassware comes in a choice of white, black and chrome finishes.

Tavistock has launched the Desire basin unit in wall·rnounted and floorstanding versions. The wall-mounted unit comes in 600mm or 800mm widths and features a single, deep, soft·cIosing drawer with internal storage compartments. The tloorstanding option boasts two drawers and measures 600mm wide.

Wall hung bathroom suites

Wouldn’t it be nice if the media made such a drama over bathroom trends for bathroom furniture, as they do over potential petrol strikes? That way, trends like wall-hung sanitaryware would already be first choice with consumers, not just a fast up-and- coming fashion!

Converted consumers

Although wall-hung hasn’t yet taken the majority of sanitaryware sales, it is becoming more and more popular: Dawood Palekai; marketing manager of Laufen, explains: “WhiIe our wall-hung sales are yet to reach a majority figure for the UK market, there has been a  significant increase in demand for this type of sanitaryware, in a relatively short space of time. Where wall-hung has long been the natural choice for our European customers and commercial clients, for homeowners in the UK, the benefits of opting for wall-hung are only now being realised.”

Many industry experts suggest the demand can be put down to the trend for luxury, hotel-inspired bathrooms, as well as creating a contemporary and clean look. Darren Paxford, technical manager of Vitra, comments: “Over the last four to five years there has been a noticeable increase in the move to wall-hung sanitaryware. This has been led by the commercial sector especially in hotels. The increase in this sector has been around 50%. The retail/residential sector has been slower – around 5%, but this is increasing. A large reason for this is that people like to emulate high- end design styles of luxury hotels in their own bathrooms.”

Significant advantages

But dreams of replicating a beautiful hotel bathroom isn’t the only thing pushing consumers towards wall-hung sanitaryware. Wall-hung also comes with a whole host of advantages from hygiene benefits, to making the room feel more spacious. And wall-hung is also great for customers who can’t afford to re-do their entire bathroom in one go, mixing and matching with floor- standing is perfectly acceptable, allowing consumers to move towards wall-hung one step at a time.

Dawood Palekar from Laufen, explains: “The beauty of wall-hung sanitaryware is that it is a versatile option, so a wall-hung WC does not in any way look out of place next to a washbasin with a pedestal for example. This enables homeowners to update their sanitaryware to wall-hung in stages if preferred, or to mix and match between the two styles to create a very individual design.”

Technical considerations

However to make sure it functions as well as it looks, there are some elements to consider. First and foremost, a wall-hung WC requires the cistern and appropriate frame to be concealed behind the wall. Georgina Spencen marketing manager for Roca, explains: “The designer needs to consider the structural implications of wall-hung products and choose the correct frame according to whether the product is to be fitted to a solid or a stud wall. Solid walls allow for the product to fix directly, so the cistern just needs to be recessed into the wall.

Whereas stud walls, or those which may not be strong enough without support, will need a full frame that fixes to the floor and wall cavity to provide the required strength. The practical implications also need to be considered, for example, access to cistern for maintenance is key.” And Gemma Comes, domestic product manager of Twyford Bathrooms, adds: “The load bearing wall or partition should be able to support a 400kg WC and a 150kg basin.” But that’s not the only thing to look out for A flush plate will need to be included within the design, as well as taking into account waste and drainage, not to forget the height of your customers.

Dawood Palekar of Laufen, explains: “Consider what height the basin and WC should be installed at to suit them, and make the design work accordingly. Also, don’t forget that although the cistern may be concealed behind the wall, you still need to incorporate the flush plate into the design and make it easily accessible. lf you’re renovating an existing bathroom, bear in mind that the location of the toilet will be determined by where the soil pipe is found.”

Bright future

And industry experts believe wall-hung suites will eventually become at least first wish, if not first choice for consumers. Sally Cutchie, bathroom designer for CP Hart, concludes: “With the increased interior design inliuences from around the world, I am sure wall-hung is a trend that will continue to grow. If this is not already the primary trend, then I would think that wall hung WCs certainly will become the first choice.”

C.P Hart Manchester scoops Northern Award

The Manchester Showroom of bathroom retailers C.P Hart was presented the Best Bathroom Retailer at the Northern Design Awards, held at the Lowry in Manchester Hosted by George Clarke of the Channel 4 programme Restoration Man, the Northern Design Awards “reinforce the region’s commitment to breathtaking design, cutting edge style and quality craftsmanship.”

They were judged by a panel which included Sir Terence Conran, Wayne Hemingway and Suzanne Imre of Livingetc. C.P Hart Manchester boasts a 4,000sq ft showroom situated in a Grade ll listed city centre building and has displays spread over two floors.

Managing director of C.P Hart, Paul Rowland commented: “It is fantastic to have dedicated awards that champion the very best of the design industry for the North. The calibre of entries this year was extremely high, showcasing the talent that the North has to offer including inspirational work by some of the UK’s more exciting interior designers and architects, all of whom we hope to work with in the future. C.P Hart was delighted to win Best Bathroom Retailer and honoured to be involved with such a prestigious event.”

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.

Where the “Hart” is

Following the acquisition of   Colourwash Bathrooms, last year C.P Hart is now incorporating the company into its business. It has brought together the best of both businesses, combining C.P Hart’s choice of inspirational products with Colourwash’s affordable ranges and customer service.

As part of this process, it has seen the transformation of two Colourwash showrooms, which have now taken on the C.P Hart brand identity. The most recent is the former Colourwash showroom in Fulham, South West London, so we took a visit to find out more. Broadening client base The Fulham showroom has been established in the area since  1989, with Simon Fraser as its manager for over 10 years. Situated on a high street location, in an affluent area, it attracts customers from surrounding Putney, Barnes, Chelsea, Kensington and Hammersmith.

Although as Simon says, “last year was a good year comparatively”, with its recent re-branding, expectations are that the business will attract even more customers. “We hope to achieve awareness in the market and be seen as a local company who can service the community. The refurbishment is great as it provides a professional experience,” says Simon. Spanning over two floors, the showroom adheres to the C.P Hart format featuring classic displays, together with cutting- edge displays, on the ground floor and more contemporary designs in the basement.

It has been designed to allow the showroom to cater for a wider variety of consumer tastes. Simon explains: “We hope to appeal to our existing customers and to grow our client base, as we have the C.P Hart brand as well. The idea is to grab a bigger share of the market”.

Service and support

However the styling is only half the story. The C.P Hart acquisition has also enabled the showroom to provide a better level of customer service. Simon explains: “Service is very important. The good thing about C.P Hart is that you have a lot of backing. You have the support of after-sales. You have people booking deliveries for you and people contacting customers to arrange deliveries. So, there is a lot more emphasis on the service aspect. That is important.” He continues: “Service, price and generally looking after people, that’s the key thing. People should feel important and listened to, served well and the after-saIes should be good. lf customers have any problems, they should be sorted out. Hopefully they won’t experience any issues, but if they do, it’s a complete package; a buying experience.”

Security of group

And Simon has also recognised the importance of being part of a larger bathroom group, with the extra assurances of the C.P Hart brand. C.P. Hart currently has seven showrooms in London, Surrey and Manchester and is looking to further expand its operation. It plans to open an additional two showrooms this year, as well as refurbish its Flagship store in Waterloo, South London. But the C.P Hart expansion strategy doesn’t stop there.

From 2012, it plans to open or acquire three showrooms in London and the South East area, every year Simon comments: “C.P Hart is branching out, so it is good that people are seeing the brand in smaller locations, as well as the large one in Waterloo.”

Facing market challenges

However, aside from C.P Hart’s Fulham showroom boasting a  new look and good reputation, the market is still not considered to be a walk in the park. Simon adds: “|t’s difficult out there. It seems to be picking up a bit but you have to be a bit cautious”. And Simon is all too aware that the concept of discounting is becoming less alien to not only trade customers but to retail customers too. “Certain‘ amounts of discounts you have to do. Obviously you have your retail side and your trade side, and in sale periods everybody knows that discounts are around. We try and please as many people as we can.” However, he adds: “Our challenge is trying to take as much of the market as we can and I think we will with added- value service.”

He has faith in his staff to deliver the results, and a good vision for the future. He concludes: “The people in the showroom are very good. There are people here that have been here a long time. We know the product and we know the people in the area, so we are experienced in all aspects and we are very accommodating. It is a complete service.”

Royal flushed

When you arrive at a showroom only to see ‘opening soon’ graphics on the window, you know you’re more than a tad early for the launch. But, having been greeted by managerlames Santos and designer Louise Home, it’s a surprise to hear the showroom is already in business. James comments: “We’ve already got a couple ofdesigns to work on because we’ve had the graphics up on the windows. People have known we’re opening and they’ve been calling up and making enquiries. We’ve already started the drawing stage of a couple of projects. We’ve had so much  interest from the local area. To get that kind of interest before you open the doors is really exciting.”

Although not willing to be drawn on the cost of the projects they are already working on, Louise admits: “The price of the projects is certainly towards the high-end. I have one project with eight bathrooms to design in one property. lt’s a Iovely job; they want high-end products and the rooms to look like they’ve been designed.” Associated with interiors.

This is the first CP Hart branded showroom to open in 10 years. So the company has been keen not to  compromise on either the design of its store or its location. CP Hart used Experian to identify customer demographics of potential store regions and decided to site the store in Royal Tunbridge Wells. This was also due to its reputation for interiors.
Situated on the high street, the showroom is among a raft of retailers focused on home design, with neighbours including Smallbone, Mark Wilkinson, Clive Christian, Charisma Kitchens and Chalon, to name but a few. According to CP Hart, the area is a magnet for shoppers in Kent, and also attracts architects and interior designers from practices in  Tunbridge and surrounding areas, such as Sevenoaks.

James says: “Tunbridge is an area renowned for interiors and home design and, certainly, our customers will be people who appreciate interior design. They will be both consumers and interior design clientele. lt has a village atmosphere but it’s a pretty big town.” And designer Louise agrees adding: “It’s quite a family- orientated area, as there are some good schools here. I think there are a lot of couples living here, where the man works in London and commutes. lt’s quite cosmopolitan and people are aware of what is going on in design trends’

Spanning all trends

The showroom offers a variety of design trends, boasting 33 displays across four floors. These span traditional, contemporary and cutting-edge bathroom settings. James explains: “We have tried to tailor the displays to offer a broad mix. We have classical displays on the ground floor with some modern items. We have modern displays on the first floor and in the basement are really contemporary, cutting- edge bathrooms.” He continues: “We made a decision to have smaller roomsets than the Waterloo store. We have tried to put in as many displays as possible, to give a flavour of all the things we can do.” Louise adds that a lot of people in the local area like to combine classical with contemporary elements in a bathroom: “l call it an eclectic trend.” Completing the showroom is a designer room and presentation area on its top floor james explains the rational of separating this space from the display areas  of the lower levels: “We want our customers to feel comfortable and to create an area which reflects our standards. |t’s a place for quiet reflection and contemplation of the wonderful designs away from the hustle and bustle of the showroom. With big complicated designs, it’s important to go through all the details and make sure the customer is happy. lt works as a design space as well, so you can have CAD bathroom designs on a large screen.”

He continues, explaining the concept of the store fit: “This showroom has been designed to reflect the local area. lt’s an old building and there’s a lot of history to it. One of the key objectives with the showroom design was to try and make it fit to the area, not to bring in a corporate entity and plonk it into the centre of town. We wanted to make it feel like it’s  been here a while and feel like it belongs. For our launch we will use all the local businesses for our catering, because we want to feel like part of the community.”

Working around history

Certainly the showroom building has been part of the community for some time, as the period property is around 200-years old. But this historical building was also quite dated, creating some design issues before it could even be fitted out. CP Hart had to completely re-wire the building, plus remove and renew the air- conditioning. In addition, all the staircases in the property had to be dismantled and replaced, along with its original floorjoists which measured 16″.

James comments: “We think it must have originally been a bank because we found a massive, old  cast iron safe embedded in one of   the walls. We couldn’t move it, so   it’s still there. It’s almost like a   vault. |t’s big enough to get into.

So, I think it must have been a bank or possibly a jeweller. You don’t normally have many safes in bathroom showrooms”.

Although the construction of   the showroom created a few unforeseen issues, its fit out was taking a relatively short period of time. And by the time the doors were set to open, james calculated that it was only a four or five week   period for the entire fit.

Reach for the sky

Although the showroom was yet to open its doors, expectations of  its success were already sky-high. ln fact, CP Hart believes its Tunbridge Wells studio will be the second most successful branch after its flagship showroom in   Waterloo, London. James says:   “It’s like NASA and counting down ‘til the shuttle takes off. We just want to get on with it.”

Now, CP Hart has officially opened the doors to its new showroom. And it already promises to exceed the initial hopes for the store. At its recent launch party, the Tunbridge Wells store welcomed over 100 people through the doors, including local architects and interior designers.   And within three days from opening, CP Hart Tunbridge Wells made its first sale.

James concludes: “We are well on our way to exceeding expectations. We’ve had a very good start and hit the   ground running. We are all very positive about our future success.”