Exclusive: Is Wayfair the latest threat to UK bathroom retail?

Reporting from ISH 2019, Frankfurt


Ambitious e-commerce business Wayfair, which specialises in home furniture and furnishings, has made no secret that a team from its plumbing category was at the ISH trade show in Frankfurt hunting for new partnerships to grow its bathroom sales.

A number of brands at the world’s biggest exhibition of sanitaryware and bathroom innovations told kbbreview they had been courted by the fast-growing US internet business that has about 12,000 workers around the world and grew its sales by 44% to almost $7 billion in 2018.

Speaking exclusively to kbbreview, Joseph Bill, senior furniture category manager at Wayfair said: “Compared to when the team at Wayfair has previously visited ISH, there was a noticeable change in retail strategy for the manufacturers and suppliers we met with.

“Online is now clearly a major focus – Wayfair’s approach to e-commerce and our ability to expose industry-leading brands to new and incremental customers, resonated very well.

“Our focus remains on transforming the way people shop for their home through superior customer experience, increased selection, and leveraging our industry-leading logistical and technological platforms.

“It was a hugely productive trip and we’re excited about the strength of our existing partnerships and the new roads we built to grow our inventory.

He said that for the UK and German businesses, “ISH is the main show we visit,” offering face time with ‘key suppliers’ to discuss global retail strategies with some of the industry’s leading brands, and seek out new partners.

“We are actively expanding our product range to meet customer demand, especially across the bathroom category.

“ISH allows us to build valuable relationships with new suppliers that are eager to take part in the fast growth we’re seeing online.”

He said that Wayfair had discovered a “wide selection of unique finds across a range of styles and price points, because we want our customers to always find that one product they are looking for and inspire them with more offers”.

Bill added: “Suppliers at ISH showed a broad range of products and innovations that we hope to soon begin offering to our customers in the UK and Germany.

“We firmly believe that, with the close support of our partners, we are well positioned to become the destination for bathroom and kitchens online across Europe.”

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