kbb Birmingham 2020: ‘Important to promote UK products’, says Carron Bathrooms

Exhibitor interview: James McMorrine, managing director, Carron Bathrooms


Q: Why should retailers come to shows like this? What are the benefits to them?

A: In our case, bathtubs are not easy to showcase ‘on the road’. And while we do have a van that acts as a mobile showroom, it is difficult to display the product in an environment that allows our customers to appreciate the features. For a brand like Carron, we need to continue to distinguish our products through our USPs – range, specification, innovation, design and service – in order to successfully grow our market share, and trade shows allow us the best opportunity to do so.


Q: How’s business compared with last year?

A: 2019 was a year of stability. With the political and economic backdrop, it was pleasing to hold steady with a product that is already well established in the market. Our hope for 2020 is that the economy begins to improve and the industry benefits from increased consumer confidence.


Q: How do you view the health of the UK KBB market? In what ways could it improve and how can the industry improve it?

A: I believe that the market remains stable and the overwhelming majority of long-standing businesses are well positioned to ride the storm. We believe that to improve the market, there needs to be greater understanding of ‘value for money’ throughout the industry. As a UK manufacturer, I feel it is important that we promote the benefits of buying from within the UK in order to support our own economy first and foremost, particularly when it comes to realising the carbon footprint of products shipped from overseas against those that our manufactured locally.


Q: How do you think the relationship between supplier and customer is changing? 

A: At Carron, we feel that customers – merchants and retailers – are looking to develop deeper links with ourselves as manufacturers. To better understand each other – as we go through distributors in England and Wales – we are keen to interact more closely to ensure our offer is suitable for designers and installers.


Q: What are the main challenges you will face as a business this year and how will you overcome these?

A: The ongoing political uncertainty surrounding the trading relationship with the EU will continue to frustrate not only supply chains, but also consumer confidence. Last year was a record year for Carron and while, as a business, we will continue to invest strategically, without sustained economic growth it is very difficult to move the dial on productivity.

The lack of professional expertise when it comes to installations is reported to us an explanation for our customers not being able to scale up, only when order books are sustainably strong will installers be able to take on apprentices and grow the capacity.

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