‘Bespoke bathrooms, without the designer price tag’

Despite 70 years’ experience as a builder’s merchant, when it came to launching a consumer-facing showroom, the Berry Bathrooms team needed a different approach. Rebecca Nottingham meets owner David Berry and buyer, John Massey.

The kbbreview Retail & Design Awards have now been going for over 30 years. Experiencing first-hand the emotions the evening evokes in the shortlisted designers and retailers will never get old.  

Lancashire-based Berry Bathrooms took home the coveted New Bathroom Retailer accolade this year and went a step further to show how much their award meant to the team behind the studio. 

They commissioned a huge sign highlighting their kbbreview Retail & Design Award win that now proudly hangs on the outside of one of the company’s buildings, on the busy road outside the showroom. Not only does it serve as a great marketing tool, but it also emphasises just how much winning one of these awards means. 

“To win one of these prestigious awards, well that is something else isn’t it really? Especially given the exceptional standard of the other finalists in our category,” says David Berry, owner of the Berry Bathrooms showroom in Leyland. “Not only does it mean so much to the team, but it’s also really helped us grow. It’s a real USP to consumers. Who wouldn’t want to go to an award-winning showroom for their new bathroom?”

For context, the Berry Bathrooms showroom is actually part of C&W Berry, which claims to be the UK’s largest single-site builders’ merchant. The company has been selling bathroom and plumbing products since 1984, so what was the reasoning behind opening a dedicated retail showroom in April last year?

John Massey, plumbing and bathroom buyer, and one of the driving forces behind the launch of Berry Bathrooms, explains “I’ve been at the company for 14 years and opening a dedicated bathroom showroom is something that’s been on our radar for years, but we didn’t just want to do what everyone else is doing, we wanted it to be different, and we wanted to do it properly,” explains Massey.

We’re so proud of what we’ve achieved. We’ll continue exceeding customer expectations, as well as growing the business

David Berry, owner, Berry Bathrooms

“The project was put into action in 2022 as we’d not only noticed a surge in home renovation projects, but we’d also noticed an upturn in budgets. Our previous merchant display was integrated into our plumbing and heating department and, although this placement initially worked well, we knew that to really propel bathroom sales, we needed a showroom designed to perfectly cater to customer needs.”

They wanted to ensure the 3,000sq ft retail studio – which, although a separate entity, is located a stone’s throw from the main C&W site – would attract mid-to-high-end consumers and were very conscious that replicating their existing trade-style showroom was not the way to go. And so, they enlisted the help of a retail design agency to help them curate the perfect space. And, you don’t have to walk far into the showroom to see how their focused approach has paid off. 

Retail psychology

“We obviously understand bathrooms but, what we weren’t necessarily experts in is designing, advising and selling direct to consumers,” Berry explains. “We worked with a retail design company, Ripple, to help us design the showroom. They got us thinking about the psychology behind retailing – how colours, lighting, music, and placement all play a huge part in getting the layout right.” 

Berry Bathrooms, which is located in what used to be a car showroom, features a mixture of display styles – from single piece to full lifestyle settings – and shop-in-shop style features. There’s also an interactive mood board area and a working water display with Hansgrohe products which they say helps the team demonstrate some of the key differences between product types. 

It may only have been open for just over a year, but they have already implemented changes to displays to keep things fresh for both clients and the staff.

“You’re not necessarily going to get the displays right first time,” explains Massey. “It’s important for the consumers to be able to see new products and trends but we also need the team in the showroom to get behind each bay. If they don’t like it, they won’t sell it – simple as that. 

“We are lucky that we have our own in-house fitting team so we can move quickly, changing displays if we need to. There is no point having a display that isn’t selling, each one must work hard for the business.”

Although he clearly knows how to run a successful business, Berry is very open from the beginning that none of what he, and his family before him, has achieved with C&W and Berry Bathrooms, could have been possible without the help and support of his staff. 

“Our staff are, without doubt, our strongest USP,” Berry says. “Not only are they knowledgeable and passionate about the products they sell, but they are also all incredibly personable, friendly, and have an effortless selling style which is reflected in the positive sales figures.” 

One of the many objectives the team had when they set out on their Berry Bathrooms retail journey was that they wanted to work with supportive brands to help them stand out in a competitive area. During the interview, Berry and Massey also touch on online competition, which remains one of the biggest battles faced by independent showroom retailers today, and highlight how this was another driving force behind their decision to partner with certain brands.

 “The internet is still our biggest competitor, especially over in our plumbing department because there is less added value there,” explains Massey. “That was another reason behind our decision to team up with Ripple, to make sure the Berry Bathrooms showroom ticked all the boxes and gave consumers every reason to buy through us and not online. 

“Even in a showroom, consumers want value for money, so we’ve really tried to get the right brands at the right price point. We’re middle range, offering premium quality, bespoke bathrooms without the designer price tag.”

Their principal product range is Infinita, an own brand product they source through the Fortis Buying Group. It offers them, they say, protection from the internet and other retailers in the locality. They also sell brands such as Laufen, Heritage, Crosswater, Burlington, Hansgrohe and Roper Rhodes.

“Infinita is own branded, so it gives us an advantage over competitors,” says Berry. “It can be a risk when there are so many big bathroom brands out there, but we have full confidence that we have the right team to implement it. Plus, we obviously do work with some of the big brands, so we have something for everyone.”

Considering they’ve already achieved so much in a year, what’s next for Berry Bathrooms?

“We turned over £1.2 million in the first year, against a net budget expectation of £750,000,” concludes Berry. “We’re so proud of what we’ve already achieved, and the plan is to continue exceeding customer expectations and needs, as well as to grow the business by targeting housebuilders and developers, and welcome new suppliers.

 “We already have three fantastic full-time staff in the showroom, Louise, Paul, and Michaela, with other people from the wider business who assist when required. We’d always planned to employ additional staff, but exponential growth has caused the timeline for this to be brought forward and we welcomed Jade to the team in November.”

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