Geberit launch is ‘like throwing a grenade’

Bathroom retailers have raised concerns over Geberit’s decision to launch its new Bathroom Collection at this year’s Ideal Home Show, and warned of the potential impact on competing brands.

The collection (pictured) includes a mixture of ceramics, furniture and mirrors and will be unveiled at the show, which takes place at London’s Olympia on March 24 to April 9.

Geberit acquired the Sanitec Group, which owned the Keramag Design and Twyford brands, in January last year.

However, one Geberit dealer, who didn’t wish to be named, claimed launching the new collection at the show was a mistake.

“I may be a little slow, and I’m a salesperson rather than a marketing expert, but surely launching a product at a retail show without trade support is a fail,” he said.

“It sounds like they are generating a demand for supply without any means to support the supply as we all know showrooms take months to build in displays and product training.

“My thoughts are really not concerned with where Geberit may sit amongst other suppliers. But wouldn’t generating a need for a supply before generating a supply chain surely be an error?”

Also commenting on the launch, Gary Walmsley, managing director of Bolton-based retailer Posh Bathing, said he suspected “there may be trouble ahead”.

“This is like throwing a grenade into the Villeroy & Boch, Duravit and Laufen dealers,” he said. “Geberit will want committed dealers, and most of the dealers who supply the three brands I’ve mentioned probably prefer to use Geberit frames.

“I’m guessing the launch will be the usual target-based sales push, but who will lose out? Geberit brand Keramag is really lovely stuff, but the Bathroom Collection from Geberit could be like finding the golden ticket for growth in UK sales. Keramag has never quite got off the ground in the UK, but being acquired by Geberit means that will change.

“If V&B, Duravit and Laufen dealers all use Geberit frames etc, they surely will be approached? Geberit will want some of the display action with Keramag, which is bound to hit sales of the other three brands, as it’s natural competition.

“I applaud the vision of Geberit, and I’ll see what impact it has on the other brands from a distance.”

Responding to these claims, Geberit managing director, UK and Ireland, Mark Larden, argued that feedback from customers over the launch had been “overwhelmingly positive” and that many are already in the process of finalising display agreements ahead of the official launch in May.

“The acquisition of Sanitec and consequent integration of Twyford Bathrooms within the UK organisation has presented us with the exciting opportunity to supply the complete bathroom solution to our diverse customer base,” Larden said.

“The expansion of our range is simply the next step in offering our customers even greater choice. The new offering is a collection of bathroom suites that range from a medium to premium price point, delivering our retail partners greater design flexibility with the quality they’ve come to expect from Geberit. We have chosen to keep the top-performing Keramag Design suites in the range and significantly expanded the offering at the medium price level, creating a collection that is perfectly designed to wow customers. The Twyford product portfolio has been rationalised and now consists of seven series and a number of commercial ranges that are less relevant for the retail market. We will introduce new products over time, in reaction to trends and market demand.”

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