Bathroom Brands has made two additions to its senior management team amid a drive for further international growth.
The group’s new chief operating officer for the UK is David Anning, who joined in January from Smiths Group, where he held a number of senior corporate posts.
Meanwhile, Rene Maan becomes Bathroom Brands’ new global chief executive from April 3.
Speaking to kbbreview at last week’s ISH bathroom exhibition in Frankfurt, Crosswater chief executive David Hance (pictured), said: “We’re bringing a more refined structure to the business and more strength. Rene will bring a wealth of experience. He’s come from RAK Ceramics, but has also worked for Grohe and had his own trading companies. He has an entrepreneurial spirit and really fits in.”
Hance admitted UK business had been “tough” for the group in the second half of last year but had now “settled down”.
“We’re ahead of last year,” he said. “I’m more involved with Bathroom Brands now, so I’ve got a foot in both camps. We’ll continue with excellent customer service and new product development. In the UK, growth will be driven by innovation. Two months ago, we launched the first digital showering to complement either modern or traditional brassware. It’s a great concept.
“Confidence is returning. We had a good January, everyone’s had a tough February, but we’re ahead on order intake in March, so that’s a good sign. Like-for-like, this year we’re slightly ahead of last year for Bathroom Brands. Against budget, Crosswater is single digits behind.”
Hance also revealed that the UK contracts market is playing an ever-bigger part in the group’s plans.
“Crosswater is being written into more and more specifications,” he said. “With the pound being weak, foreign investment makes sense. We’re investing heavily. We’ve grown our team over the past year from half-a-dozen to more than 15. The group is probably in the top three for WRAS-approved products.”
The group also plans to launch a new multifunction kitchen tap in quarter three, Hance said.
“It’s WRAS-approved and water is at 92 to 95 degrees. It does carbonated, chilled, hot, cold, standard and boiling. This is a five-in-one tap with a safety cut-off. We’ve worked hard on finding a WRAS-approved product we can bring to the market.”
Bathroom Brands’ venture into the North American market has also proved successful, Hance continued.
“We’ve now done over $1.5 million in sales,” he said. “We supply Canada as well. They have separate accreditations, but all our products meet their standards – that was a huge investment. We had a record month in February and sales are growing 15% month on month [for the two territories].
“We’ve got a 10-year lease on a property in Massachusetts and we’re offering the same-day service we offer here. We’ve also acquired a lower-cost brassware company called Ammara Designs, which is trading well. We offer same-day dispatch from our facility in California.”