Cheap tile imports have hit the UK industry hard, despite this British Ceramic Tile has seen double-digital growth and marketing manager Jayne Adamson says its success is down to staying true to its heritage
Despite the fact the market has declined by more than a third since 2007, British Ceramic Tile has stood firm, supplying high-quality wall and floor tiles and growing the tile market here in the UK. We have experienced double-digit growth over the past year, exceeding the rate of growth within the industry.
A tough economic climate and cheap tile imports have hit the UK tile industry hard and made times difficult for manufacturers and distributors. Additional factors, such as an unstable euro zone and emerging manufacturing nations, such as China and India, have placed added pressure on UK manufacturers.
The market has been flooded with cheap imports and while they appear to consumers to be cost-effective, they are made from lower-quality materials and don’t offer the same design finesse or originality. Instead of competing on cost, we focus firmly on our British manufacturing heritage and the quality of our raw materials to create premium, design-led ranges. This, combined with the strength of our in-house designers and product managers, has seen us go from strength to strength over the past year, providing retailers with strong-performing ranges that tap in to consumer trends.
We appreciate that, for many kitchen and bathroom retailers, space is at a premium. If I were to advise a retailer who is looking to open a showroom, I would recommend including tiles in room sets. They don’t have to be on a large scale or be expensive installations, just small room sets that will inspire customers. Many consumers have problems visualising how tiles will look in a real room environment, which makes room sets a crucial tool in to achieving success and boosting sales.
Also, while it’s tempting to offer low-cost ranges, we would recommend keeping the price point at mid- to premium to avoid competing with retailers offering cheap imports. Provide a welcoming environment and a personal service that you wouldn’t get from a national retailer and you’ll have the full package in your showroom.
E-commerce is another option for selling tiles, with new technology helping consumers to visualise tiles in their home – something we know boosts sales. So, if there’s the option to include wall or floor tiles on your website, it is well worth the investment.
There hasn’t been much change in our relationship with retailers over the past few years but I do expect it to change in the future. Retailers will want a more streamlined service, which we plan to offer through our dedicated website. It will have a personalised log-in to enable you to check stock levels, place orders, view invoices and so on, which should help to make the process of tile ordering much simpler.