Tag Archives: shower enclosures

Out of frame

Ask any industry expert about the popularity of frameless shower enclosures and they will all echo the same view: sales are on the rise. This coveted look has captured the attention of consumers. and in doing so boosted sales.

Managing director of Aqata, Jayne Barnes comments: “We have seen a consistent increase of sales on our range of lrameless for the past three years: the split is now 50:50.” And marketing manager of Robert Lee Distribution. Matt Earle agrees: “Over the past two to three years, the sale of frameless shower enclosures has increased dramatically. The majority of shower brands now include frameless designs within their portfolio.” But arguably. what is less clear is what the bathroom industry actually terms as a frameless shower enclosure.

Frameless or ‘frameIess’

Following the success of luxury frameless enclosures. the look has filtered from the premium sector into the mid-market. It has not only widened sales opportunities but expanded the definition too. (See Expert View). creating a ‘frameless look.

Advantages of adjustment

But the ‘frameless’ or partially- framed enclosure has its place as it has the benefits of adjustability over true frameless models, which need straight walls for installation. It can be particularly beneficial in older properties with walls that are out-of-true. Managing director of Lakes Bathrooms. Robin Craddock adds: “With some brands. adjustability may be a challenge. Some frameless enclosures offer no adjustability and simple glass panels will require setting into walls to add essential rigidity.”

Chameleon in design

But whether it’s a genuine frameless model or a ‘frameless’ look shower enclosure, the appeal is enduring.

And although the style is often associated with contemporary bathrooms, experts say the fiameless look can meet the trends for the latest in heritage fashions too. Jayne Barnes of Aqata, explains: “They sit comfortably with any style of room, be it modern or traditional. Fiameless shower enclosures and screens accentuate the beauty of the space without distracting from it. They are timeless, sleek and versatile.”

Moving customers up-market

But with such a minimal look, how can designers and retailers encourage clients to trade up? “The main elements of design that distinguish the higher-end fmmeless enclosures are those, which by their very nature are not obvious,” says marketing manager of Aqualux, Sandra Hyde, but points out the thickness of glass and panel height can differentiate an enclosure. She says: “High quality materials are used, such as 8mm glass panels, [which are] 2000mm in height. Door seals are minimalist and magnetic. Clever design techniques are employed to conceal fixings and moving parts. This could be a discrete method of adjusting and fixing profiles to the wall without a silicon finish, a concealing strip for door rollers or even making them a feature of the enclosure design.”

And Nick Rowland of Heritage Bathrooms agrees, adding that ‘easy-clean’ coatings can also help move consumers towards higher- priced models: “MateriaI thickness and anti-plaque coatings are the most distinguishing features when looking at price point.”

Evolving glass options

And of course manufacturers are continuing to evolve the frameless look, with curves, colours and even patterned glazing coming to the fore. Robin Craddock of Lakes Bathrooms predicts that the future design influences on the frameless enclosures will be the choice of glazing: “The only obvious thing is the possibility ofdifferent glass options, creating variant types and styles to give contmst and variety to the clear glass option that makes up the majority currently.”

So make sure you’re in the frame (or not, as the case may be) for these enclosure sales. They are only going to become more visible in bathroom design.

Making the most out of showers

Although showers are undeniably a must-have in today’s bathroom, the bath tub has not yet been consigned to the history books. And while there is a growing trend for large shower enclosures, created to replace the footprint of a standard-sized bath tub, seemingly it hasn’t wiped out shower bath sales.

In fact sales director of April Products, Richard Martin points out: “Shower bath sales over the past two or three years have continued to outpace the growth in sales of other baths. The recent trend has been for households to replace the bath with a shower enclosure; howeven there are many households who want the benefits of both bath and shower.”

And Nick Rowland, product manager for Heritage Bathrooms, agrees: “Bath replacement showers will grow as a percentage but there will always be a need for a bath or a shower bath.”

Suiting small bathrooms

But why does the British consumer continue their love affair with a shower bath? The answer is quite simple, it provides showering and bathing options in the space ofjust a bath. With the typical British bathroom being small, it allows consumers to have both bathing facilities in a restricted area.

Nick Rowland of Heritage Bathroom explains: “A shower bath provides an ideal solution when space is tight, enabling the homeowner to tit a shower into a standard-size bathroom around the basin, toilet and bath rather than trying to squeeze in a separate shower” Managing director of Reva Industries, Gary Stevens agrees and cites the shower bath is also popular as it meets the needs of all the family: “The success of the shower bath comes from it being a two-in-one option, partly due to limited space in most UK bathrooms and partly as families like to retain a bath for children and older people.”

P and L-shape models

So what should designers look for when they need to specify a shower bath for their bathroom projectss. In terms of styling, industry experts suggest that while the curvaceous P-shape is the most popular design, the geometric L-shape model is aspirational. Nick Rowland comments: “P-shaped baths lead the sales but L-shape lead in terms of desirability. just like enclosures, the style has moved away from soft curves to a more angular look.”

And Richard Martin of April Products, agrees adding:  “[There will be] continued growth in L-shape products, possibly overtaking sales of P- shape baths over the next two to three years.” But it’s not simply a matter of styling, which will help designers specify the correct bath. Nick Rowland points out: “Designers need to think carefully about the available space, the flatness of the showering area and how water retention will be achieved.

Also, they need to consider how far the screen wraps around the showering area and how much the showering area intrudes into the rest of the bathroom.” While head of marketing at Bette, Sven Rensinghoff suggests that designers ask, which is the preferred method of cleansing, as this may also affect shower bath choice.

He says: “lt is really important to understand the client’s preferences for bathing or showering and to know which they are likely to do most frequently, as this can have a major impact on the choice of shower: lf, for example, the shower bath will be used mostly for showering, they could consider a lower height option for ease of access.”

He continues: “ [designers] should also take into account their client’s height and frame to ensure that they select the shower bath that is going to bring the most bathing and showering pIeasure.” Rensinghoff adds: “Lack of awareness of features and benefits means some consumers do not select the best product for their needs – and may even buy a bath that has not been specifically designed as a shower bath.”

Trade-up features

By understanding the features of the design, and the benefits these may provide, designers may be able to encourage customers to trade up. Sven Rensinghoff from Bette continues: “Designers can encourage consumers to trade up in shower bath models by getting them to think about their bathing and showering experience. Will the standing area be large enough? Will the bath be comfortable, spacious and deep enough?”

He adds: “Designers should take time to explain features like steep sides at the showering end – to provide the maximum standing area – and a comfortable, sloping back rest at the lying end, for maximum bathing comfort. When consumers understand the differences between shower baths, they are more likely to trade up to a better quality option.” And now there are even more options to trade up, as manufacturers have introduced integrated showers into the design.

Nick Rowland says: “Another noticeable development is the combining of the shower and bath delivery system as the shower bath is the amalgamation of the shower and bath, this has evolved to integrate the water delivery system within the product.”

Ancillary sales add-up

The shower bath can now provide so much more than just a tub with the addition of a screen. So make sure you also maximise sales opportunities that shower bath sales provide. As Richard Martin of April Products points out: “You can sell many ancillary products such as more expensive bath panels, various designs of bath screen and many designs of showering brassware, as well as bath fillers.”

With the increasing demand for showering and reticence of consumers to go without a tub, it seems like the shower bath will remain a popular choice for the bathroom.

Best of both worlds

We’re now very much a ‘want it all society’ and it’s even reflected in the design of our bathrooms. We want a bath to relax and soak away the stresses and strains of the day but we also want showers for the convenience of daily cleansing. Enter the shower bath, which offers an all-in-one solution, and it’s easy to see why they are perennially popular.

Despite the tough retail climate, shower baths are still selling well. Commercial and marketing director for jacuzzi UK, David Tutton says: “According to our sales figures, the market for shower baths has performed remarkably well over the past three years. While other areas of the bathroom market have disappointed, this one is strong, growing and profitable forlacuzzi UK.”

Adding bathing value

Consumer confidence is still shaky and as they seek the security of added value, the shower bath can provide a cost-effective solution. Let’s face it; they are quite simply a cheaper option than a bath and separate showering space. A shower bath is the perfect compromise for consumers who have the aspiration to have both types of bathing  opportunities but not the pockets to match.

Darren Paxford, technical manager of VitrA, comments: “The shower bath is a cheaper alternative to a bath and separate shower – both from the point of view of material and installation costs.” Georgina Spencen marketing manager of Roca UK, agrees: “A shower bath can help make bathroom makeovers much more affordable and is much more hassle free. Installing a shower bath can avoid the cost of additional tiling, flooring and alterations to the plumbing, therefore providing a much simpler and cost-efficient solution to those looking to include a shower experience.”

Solving space constraints

However; the majority of shower bath sales are not driven because of cost but because of space limitations. The typical British bathroom does not have the room to house a bath and standalone enclosure. Helen Clark, marketing director of Utopia Bathroom Group, comments: “Whilst a shower bath is a cheaper alternative to a separate shower enclosure, I think the majority of people choose the shower bath option because of size limitations rather than price.”

And UK sales and operations manager at Bette, Samantha Wake agrees: “The decision to choose a shower bath, rather than a bath and separate shower enclosure, is usually more about space than money. If space allows, consumers will usually choose to have both a bath and shower area. But in the majority of homes this simply isn’t an option, so the shower bath provides the ideal way to enjoy both bathing and showering.”

Shower bath benefits

All of which means, although shower baths offer a compromise, consumers don’t necessarily have to forgo luxury for function. There are models which offer quality bathing, even incorporating hydrotherapy, for those who want a spa-like environment and shower in a small space. And to encourage consumers to trade up, designers can also showcase the strength of the bath, in terms of its rigidity, and the security of the screen to retain water in the showering area. Sales director of Pura, Daniel Hancock comments: “Highlight the improvements of quality of product, design and materials used in making the bath. Making sure you are offering quality and value for money is imperative.”

Samantha Wake of Bette goes further; suggesting: “Designers can encourage consumers to trade up in shower bath models by getting them to think about their bathing and showering experience and ensuring that they really understand the benefits of a well-designed and manufactured shower bath. Will the standing area be large enough? Will the bath be comfortable, spacious and deep enough?

Lack of awareness of features and benehts means some consumers do not select the best products for their needs – and may even buy a bath that has not been specifically designed as a shower bath.” She continues: “Designers  should take time to explain features like steep sides at the showering area – to provide the maximum standing area – and a comfortable sloping back rest at the lying end, for maximum bathing comfort. When consumers understand the difference betweens shower baths, they are more likely to trade up to a better quality option.”

Shaped to suit

And there are now a raft of quality products that incorporate these features on the market. These are tied up in the latest design—orientated shower baths which are suitable for the most style-conscious customer. Consumers can take their choice from the P-shaped shower bath, which has been joined by the more recent geometric L-shaped model or even tapered designs. But which style is proving the most popular? Nick Platt, bathroom category manager of Moods Bathrooms, comments: “In terms of shape, the streamlined space-saving shower bath with tapered edge is very popular, whilst the curved P-shape bath offers a spacious showering area ideal for families with small children. One of the latest additions and a firm favourite is the contemporary L-shape bath.”

While Gary Stevens, managing director of Reva Industries, provides a more definitive answer, when he says: “Looking at the number of P- shaped models on offer in the market, compared to the more recent angular L-shaped  models, the P-shape is still the most selected design.”

And Nick Rowland, product manager for Heritage Bathrooms, echoes his view: “P-shaped baths lead the sales but L-shape lead in terms ofdesirability. just like enclosures, the style has moved away from soft curves to a more angular look.”

Safe bath future

Whether restricted by budget or by space, undoubtedly there is a shower bath design to suit all tastes and wallets. And with an unrelenting demand for showering, as well as bathing, shower baths will remain significant sales for designers and retailers. As Samantha Wake concludes: “Most people are reluctant to do away with a bath in their home. Even if they take a bath, they feel that, if they ever want to sell their home, not having a bath would be a negative for buyers. So it’s our view that there will always be a market for shower baths in the foreseeable future.”