Hanex UK: How the company survived its pandemic-era launch
Despite launching just before COVID, solid surface brand Hanex UK is going strong. According to Jake Naylor, MD, and Fraser Moon, contracts manager, the secret to its success is hard work, a personal touch, and being in the right place at the right time
Q: Hanex is a relatively new name in the UK solid surface industry. What was the initial spark that kicked everything off?
A: We were already working with solid surfaces when we were approached by Hyundai L&C, and during a discussion about a project, there was an offhand comment made about how they were looking for a new distributor for Hanex. We said “yeah, why not?” and that’s where it all started.
Q: How did things progress after that spur of the moment decision?
A: After negotiations, we agreed to launch in January 2020. But that contract was only signed at the end of October 2019. That gave us November and half of December to set up an entire national distribution company. We’re ambitious people, and this represented an opportunity to evolve our business. As it went on it became clear that we had to separate the two businesses. Hanex UK became its own entity instead.
Q: So, what is it that sets Hanex apart from the competition?
A: We’re very realistic. We know we’re just one of the many solid surface brands available. It’s not necessarily our products that set us apart from everyone else, it’s what’s behind them, and that’s the team we’ve got here. It doesn’t matter if fabricator A wants an order for one sheet, and fabricator B has an order for 400 sheets, they all get treated exactly the same way. We’ve created so many personal relationships with our customers with this model. We’re also not very corporate, which people seem to like.
Q: What products can Hanex UK offer to retailers?
A: Originally, we launched with a reduced range. We introduced our Venato and Stratum collections, and Cascade as well. We’ve since developed those colours further, and they’ve been getting a great reception at trade shows, which has really helped us stand out too.
Q: What’s the question that customers ask the most.
A: Most commonly it’s “why go for a solid surface worktop over something like quartz?” Our answer is always the huge range of benefits. It’s got seamless joints which are much more hygienic and can be seamlessly integrated with the sink. It’s also visually appealing and has a look you can’t really achieve with other types of worktop.
Q: Like everyone, your business must have been impacted by the chaos of Covid. How did you manage to weather that?
A: We made the choice to buy stock from other Hanex distributors in places like Estonia and Italy, just to have the products to fulfil our commitments to the UK market. We’re also grateful that Hyundai L&C listened to our concerns and gave us the support we needed.
Q: Looking ahead, what’s next for Hanex UK?
A: Back in 2020, we couldn’t have the big brand launch that we’d planned, so we’ve almost relaunched ourselves this year. We’re finalising plans that will allow us to hold a stock level that puts us back on par with our pre-pandemic levels. The next big step is having all of our orders serviced directly from our warehouse, and we’ll have stock of every colour ready to go out within a day or two. It’s been a long journey, but seeing things fall into place has been really rewarding. It shows that if you put hard work in, if you’re always working towards a goal, and surrounding yourself with the right people, you can get there.
You can listen to the full interview in a special bonus episode of The kbbreview Podcast below