Major bathroom retailers have hit out at suppliers for their lack of loyalty and threatened to charge them for showroom space.
Richard Hassell, director of Doncaster-based More Than Baths, claimed his suppliers insist he commits to displays in his showroom, yet then offer the same displays to a showroom “100 yards down the road”.
“Is it time showrooms charged for areas for brands to put a display in?” he asked. “We do all the work after all. Most of the reps today do nothing but talk about other showrooms during our appointments and claim they are your “best friend” and drink coffee.
“They are putting displays in tile showrooms, saying that anyone can be a bathroom designer today – so they think.
“It’s a matter of time until they actually commit and back the loyal accounts,” he added. “I’m confident it won’t be long until they start getting brown noses again.
“The annoying thing is we have worked with the majority of them for over nine years. So surely you’d think we’d have earned some respect and trust? Definitely not. I wouldn’t trust some of the area reps to make me a cup of tea.”
Bathroom retailer Gary Walmsley (pictured top), of Posh Bathing in Bolton, agreed saying that it was time bathroom retailers started putting their own interests first.
“It’s our showroom, it’s our showroom space, it’s our decision in the end to what we wish to display in our showrooms,” he said. “We too have businesses to run.”
However, he claimed that showroom owners have put themselves in this position by letting suppliers dictate to them.
“Loyalty is a two way street, and the bathroom industry we have now is the bathroom industry we deserve, as we the ‘showroom owners’ have let the manufacturers dictate terms and territory, and the only people that benefit are the merchants and the discounters,” he said.
But “enough is enough”, he argued. “I opted out of the ‘targets’ mentality, mutually parted company with the likes of Hansgrohe, Villeroy & Boch, Duravit, and scaled down my Laufen operation. But still I’m as busy as ever, my clients trust my opinions, and recommendations.”
Walmsley went on to argue that nothing would change in the industry unless retailers speak up and fight back.
“I’m sure one of the gripes of reputable showroom owners is paying for displays, but that won’t change unless you can guarantee numbers,” Walmsley said. “Renting floor space won’t happen too. We’ve all experienced the closest showroom getting access to a product that we have nurtured as a premium brand, only to be told it’s available to all now.
“What we need is a ‘voice’ for the independents,” he concluded. “We need more independents writing to the trade magazines. Otherwise, nothing will change.”