Villeroy & Boch came under fire from dealers on business network platform LinkedIn, after it was revealed the brand had partnered with Homebase – the new owner of the Bathstore brand – as part of its new high-street showroom concept, dedicated to kitchens and bathrooms.
Dual-branded Bathstore and Kitchens by Homebase, the bathroom side of the store in Guildford features a selection of Bathstore branded products as well as the Lyla range by Villeroy & Boch.
The Lyla collection of washbasins, WCs and baths, was created in conjunction with a distribution partner and is exclusive to the concept store in Guildford.
Following the announcement, a number of independent retailers took to LinkedIn to openly express their frustration at Villeroy & Boch’s decision to join forces with Bathstore.
One retailer said: “The way to achieve more sales is to have a dialogue with existing dealers.”
Another said: “This is extremely bad times for V&B. With one strike they have made their brand ‘cheap’ and lost the independent retail backing. Good luck trying to claw this one back.”
While another retailer simply said: “It’s like Armani suddenly going into Primark.”
Defending its decision, Villeroy & Boch told kbbreview that it was working with Bathstore on a “trial period” with “a limited range of products” as part of its strategy to improve overall visibility of the brand.
Anna Wiatr, Villeroy & Boch CRM and sales marketing manager, added: “Further to the recent announcement of the new Villeroy & Boch and Bathstore partnership, we can confirm that the trial collaboration has been agreed with a distribution partner to create a Bathstore Collection at the Guildford store only.
“We want to reassure our existing customers that during this trial period, there is a limited assortment of Villeroy & Boch washbasins, WCs and baths available, so we believe this new partnership should not deter sales from our existing channels.
“Villeroy & Boch would like to thank the relevant parties and exclusive showroom partners for their input surrounding this new strategy and hope for continued support as they manage this trial partnership. Villeroy & Boch are heavily focused on developing market-leading products and working with our specialist network of retail partners to develop sustained growth within the UK bathroom sector and look forward to continuing this in the future.”