Leading designer Tom Dixon has accused the KBB industry of being very fragmented with a lack of synergy across the sectors.
Dixon claimed that the industry has “quite conservative methods of distribution” and, in part, this is because one project can use multiple manufacturers. This complicates the process, he said, especially if the retailers and manufacturers do not speak to each other.
Dixon said: “The kitchen and bathroom industries are very fragmented, so there’s a lack of synergy in design across all sectors.
“The kitchen people are experts at designing and making cabinets, but they don’t seem to talk to the people that make the appliances. So, what you get are cabinets and appliances that don’t coordinate with each other or the lights and tiles, etc. It’s even more uncoordinated in bathrooms. It’s rare for the whole bathroom to come from one brand.”
Dixon used the example of Ikea’s popularity, as the Swedish company is able to source the whole room as a packaged set to a consumer.
“There’s a lot of inspiring design coming through in the industry. There are a lot of great concepts and innovations but, for me – and this goes back to the fact it’s so fragmented – where it all falls apart is how you actually buy a complete kitchen or bathroom,” said Dixon.
Paul Crow, managing director of Ripples, agreed: “It’s pretty much a fact that most bathrooms are made up of a mixture of manufacturers. A Ripples bathroom could require over 10 suppliers to complete and it requires a great deal of specialist knowledge within our design team to master and equally this can test the installer.
“However, the benefit is that the products supplied to the customer are the most suitable and usually the best value. Find me a manufacturer that is truly capable of offering a coordinated range design-wise and usually you will find they are not the original manufacturer of the goods, so they are often adding cost to the supply chain. Alternatively, you will find a one-size-fits-all approach lacking in real options.”
Crow concluded: “Ultimately, I think one of the beauties of the bathroom industry is that there is a choice of products and often these are from traditional or certainly historically speaking family-based manufacturers who went about their business making the best products they can. As long as you are working with experienced bathroom designers, you will have a coordinated design and a happy customer.”
For the full interview with Tom Dixon see the July issue of kbbreview