‘Support showrooms more,’ says bathroom retailer

Doncaster-based More Than Baths owner Richard Hassell has accused shower supplier Aqualisa of favouring the online channel and failing the showroom dealer.

In a letter [kbbreview, July, pg29], Hassell claimed that the shower manufacturer had been trying to have “the best of both worlds” by allowing its products to be heavily discounted online.

He also called on Aqualisa to “support showrooms more” if it expects retailers to commit to the company.

“If showrooms didn’t display these products, clients wouldn’t be able to see them and that would have a massive impact,” he said. “It’s about time we stopped supporting brands that allow massive discounts to happen online and expect us showrooms to commit to them.”

Aqualisa chief executive David Hollander (pictured) responded to the accusation claiming it had always tried to “work with customers to find ways to support them in this aim” and that the issue was not “exclusive” to the company.

“Every individual retailer needs to work with us to find an individual, competitive advantage to fight their internet competition,” he said. “Aqualisa cannot and will not break the law to prevent retailers that choose to sell on the internet at the price that they determine, from doing so.”

He said the company is planning to strengthen its selective distribution policy in the hope of supporting showroom dealers in the future.

“We’re making our biggest ever investment in the showroom channel in 2016 and beyond,” concluded Hollander. “That includes brand new POS, new wet working display designs, simplified showroom qualification criteria, new product development, referrals from our Grand Designs Live promotion and the new website, which is designed to drive consumers to their nearest showroom.”

The news comes in the wake of fresh warnings from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that it had not ruled out further fines for suppliers and retailers in the bathroom industry.

The CMA has said it hoped that the heavy fines given to bathroom supplier Ultra Finishing and commercial refrigeration company Foster Refrigeration for fixing resale prices would be a deterrent to other companies.

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