Today we hear from the chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, Tom Reynolds, as he outlines the surprising resilience of the home improvement sector and the opportunity this offers

The public’s hunger for home improvement shows a less pronounced decline than might be expected in the current inflationary backdrop. In fact, the private housing repair and maintenance sectors grew by an impressive 5.0% in February, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), being credited to multiple factors, including people choosing to invest in their current properties rather than looking for a new one.

What’s particularly interesting about this trend is how it has continued despite higher living costs, including soaring energy costs and the price of food rising at the fastest rate in 45 years. The annual inflation rate was 10.1% in March 2023, the seventh successive month in double-digits. Still, we are seeing positive figures regarding home improvement spending and intentions.

Indeed, BMA’s research with our partner Opinium Research bears out similar sentiments, with more than a quarter of the UK population (26%) intending to complete a full bathroom refurbishment in the next two years.

Again, this could be driven by a multitude of factors, such as adapting to multigenerational living, adopting more energy and water-efficient products to offset high energy prices and adopting ‘greener’ solutions.

As bathroom spaces remain a top priority for many, designers have the unique opportunity to influence and innovate what we consider an ideal bathing experience. By exploring our changing habits and desires as consumers, they shape the vision of bathrooms in society today – from multi-functional rooms that maximise space to luxury retreats with alluring fixtures.

By combining innovation, technology and sustainability in their bathroom designs, manufacturers are paving the way to transforming UK bathrooms into efficient spaces that use less water and energy.  From smart showers connected to apps that enable users to set the ideal temperature and duration of their showering experience; to sensors providing a seamless tap operating process – manufacturers have never been more crucial for creating sustainable and affordable bathrooms than now.

Furthermore, government policy on mandatory water efficiency labelling is intended to push consumers towards choosing greener products even further – making this shift part of an unmissable chance for any designer invested in green solutions.

To revolutionise bathroom efficiency, all stakeholders must work together to ensure water-saving products are utilised correctly. Designers can set the tone by initiating conversations with customers about long-term cost savings and their sustainability impact – underscoring a brighter path forward.

Together we can develop progressive, sustainable bathrooms that make lasting changes environmentally and aesthetically. While the public’s appetite for home improvement remains buoyant despite inflation, it’s an opportunity worth taking.