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Kbb Birmingham, Europe’s biennial kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms event, has announced the launch of the Innovation Awards 2022, in partnership with Blum.

The awards honour the best ideas in the KBB industry. Entrants can nominate a new method, idea or product that demonstrates innovation. The scheme is open to all and winners will be announced at kbb Birmingham in March 2022.

This year there will be a new category added to the programme. This award will be for sustainability, which will acknowledge the cutting-edge work that brands are doing to create, promote and deliver sustainable solutions to the KBB sector.

Entries will be judged by a panel of industry experts which will include leading professionals who represent different areas of the KBB market including design, technical and journalism backgrounds.

Entries should showcase the latest innovations in the industry, ranging from products and components to manufacturing techniques that are disrupting the market, with only solutions or products launched in the last 18 months being accepted.

Following the judging, 10 successful shortlisted entries will be displayed in the Atrium at the NEC across specially designed plinths, for the duration of the show. Winners will be announced at kbb Birmingham on the 8th of March 2022. As well as the Judges winner, also returning this year will be the popular People’s Choice winner, which is chosen by visitors to the show.

“We’re really excited to launch the Innovation Awards for the 2022 show,” Comments Andy Bishop, Creative Director, kbb Birmingham. “We can’t wait to launch this scheme for 2022 to recognise and celebrate the amazing work that is going on within the industry. We are looking forward to seeing the fantastic entries and being able to share the ground-breaking projects that have been developed since the last show.”   

To enter go to: www.kbb.co.uk/en/attend/innovation-awards.html. All entries must be submitted by Friday 17th December 2021.

Robert Ginsberg, Managing Director of bathroom manufacturer HiB, was received by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles and The Countess of Wessex at Windsor Castle, to celebrate HiB’s accolade of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.

Robert Ginsberg HiB

The reception saw representatives from 205 firms gather at the castle to celebrate the prestigious award, which each of the businesses had won in either 2020 or 2021. As part of the event, guests had the chance to meet the members of the monarchy and discuss their company’s achievements.

Talking about the reception, MD Robert Ginsberg said: “It was an honour to meet His Royal Highness, Prince Charles and The Countess of Wessex at Windsor Castle to celebrate HiB winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. It is one of the most significant business awards and to be able to take part in such a wonderful event with other pioneering businesses was a great privilege.”

The event culminated a week of regal celebrations which included a visit by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire to Inspire House, HiB’s National Distribution Centre in Tamworth. The Lord Lieutenant made the special visit to officially present the company with the Queen’s Award, after taking a tour around HiB’s facilities and meeting staff from across the business.

HiB will be able to use the esteemed Queen’s Award emblem for five years, recognising the company’s ongoing commitment to furthering bathroom product innovation.

For more information about HiB, visit https://www.hib.co.uk

Bathroom specialist Aqualisa today announced that Joe Brawn has joined the British manufacturer as head of product management, leading the company’s product strategy and overseeing the introduction of new Aqualisa solutions to the UK and international markets.

Reporting to Mike Simpson, product and marketing director, Joe commenced his role at Aqualisa on 1 November 2021, and leads a team of six product managers and executives responsible for managing the company’s extensive bathroom portfolio and developing its long-term product roadmap. As part of this new position, Joe will be pivotal in the expansion of the Aqualisa line-up and enhancements to the customer experience throughout the range. One of his first plans is to design and implement a bespoke product management framework to streamline launches and increase the efficiency of new product delivery.

An experienced product management leader, Joe’s career has spanned more than 15 years. He joins Aqualisa from kitchenware company DKB Household where he headed up global product management of the Cole & Mason brand. Previous positions have included global brand manager at Bissell Homecare, Inc, and product manager at Vax.

Joe Brawn commented, “Aqualisa is an inspiring British company with advanced, ground-breaking products and a hugely exciting future vision, so the opportunity to be part of the journey to fulfil this potential was too good to miss. I look forward to driving forward the product strategy to extend the company’s market offering in all channels, and to working with the product management team to deliver best practice and provide a superior customer experience across the product portfolio. I am particularly focused on growing Aqualisa’s position as leaders in sustainability and smart digital showers, and providing customers with even more choice in this rapidly-growing category.”

Mike Simpson, product and marketing director, added, “The expansion of our product line-up is essential to our ambitious growth strategy, and I believe Joe’s breadth of experience and expertise from across a varied range of industries will add immense value to our organisation. I look forward to working closely with Joe to reinforce our leadership in pioneering bathroom technology and to successfully developing our product innovation pipeline to meet our long-term business objectives.”

Joe has a busy family life with two children under four years old. A serious sports fan, during his rare free time, his biggest passion is watching and playing rugby, and generally keeping fit. He also likes to unwind listening to his favourite music tracks.

HIX will mark the first industry exhibition for GROHE since the onset of the pandemic and will also be the first event where the brand will showcase its newly accredited Cradle to Cradle Certified® products.

The C2C concept enables GROHE to drastically reduce the use of new resources: a product is designed and manufactured with the intent of using its components in its end-of-life-phase for the creation of new products. 

To coincide with the event, GROHE is also launching the next module in its series of RIBA approved CPDs: Circularity in the bathroom and kitchen with Cradle-to-Cradle certification. Amongst the first sanitaryware brands globally to achieve Cradle-to-Cradle certification, GROHE has developed the informative and inspirational session to guide design professionals on how to achieve greener projects that offer C2C credentials. Hoteliers and other professionals will be able to visit the GROHE stand at the show in order to be amongst the first to register for the new CPD session, which is hosted by GROHE’s team of experts.

GROHE will also be inviting guests to immerse in the serene ambience of its spa-inspired room set as part of a new premium spa and wellness-focused concept currently in development. The space will be created with re-envisioned designs of its popular Allure brassware range.

Alongside showcasing its latest innovations designed to support sustainable and premium hotel projects, GROHE will also be sponsoring the Meaningful Value keynote speech, presented by leading hospitality consultant, Horwath HTL’s James Chappell. The staged discussion will look at how brands and hoteliers can create hotel experiences that matter in the modern, post-COVID age.

“We are really excited to be a part of the very first HIX design show, a much anticipated event that is long overdue for the industry as we emerge from the pandemic”, says Ebru Bircan, Leader, Marketing Activation UK, LIXIL EMENA and GROHE UK. 

“Our stand and the innovations we are presenting focus on two very integral aspects of the current hospitality design landscape: wellness and sustainability. We want to continue to work with more and more hotel brands to provide sustainable solutions that offer tangible results in the reduction of water, energy, materials and waste. We’re also continuing to create this immersive narrative within the hotel bathroom around wellness and health through water. We see these two key design considerations to be integral to shaping the future of hotel design”.

GROHE can be found on Stand 7 at HIX on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th November 2021.

Leading bathroom manufacturer, VitrA, has appointed new managers to its growing business in the UK as it approaches its 30th UK anniversary.

Lance Corfield (pictured top) joins as contracts sales manager and will be responsible for managing complete bathroom specifications for housebuilders and developers across the West and East Midlands. Lance brings years of bathroom business experience having previously worked for Roca Group, Grohe UK, and Utopia Bathrooms.

Lynne Wainwraight
Lynne Wainwright

Lynne joined VitrA in September 2021 as specifications manager. Lynne, whose clients include Architects and Designers has had extensive experience in the bathroom sector, having previously worked at VADO and C.P. Hart in roles across specification and business development.

Caroline Gregory

Caroline Gregory joins VitrA as Finance Manager, from her former position of Finance Director and Director of Shared Services for an independent publisher Lion Hudson Ltd where she worked for just under 11 years. Caroline brings a wealth of experience, having worked in retail, not-for-profit, private, and public sectors.

Levent Giray, managing director the VitrA Bathrooms in the UK says, “Attracting people to the VitrA family that bring such terrific experience and genuine enthusiasm for the industry has been a key part of the growth of VitrA.  We are delighted to welcome Lynne, Caroline, and Lance and wish them every success for the future.”

Online bathroom retailer Victoria Plum has launched its first kitchen products range as part of the business’s ongoing ambitious growth strategy.

The Doncaster-headquartered company has initially introduced seven kitchen cabinet ranges and a variety of kitchen products. These include worktops, tiles, flooring, lighting, Rangemaster sinks and Bristan and Schön taps.

The announcement follows record financial performance by Victoria Plum. For the year ended 28 February 2021, the company achieved a 46 per cent increase in sales to £103m whilst EBITDA grew 115 per cent to £4.5m.

Speaking about the launch of the business’s kitchen range, Victoria Plum’s chief executive, Paul McClenaghan, said: “We have an ambitious growth strategy, high performing teams throughout our business and a clear objective of accelerating our rate of expansion.

“This led us to investigate the kitchens marketplace in detail. What we discovered was a distinct opportunity to leverage our supply chain, internal skill set and ecommerce capabilities to successfully enter this segment of the home improvement market.

“Our kitchen products are selling well, and we intend to expand our offer by increasing both our range and our marketing activity.

“We are creating a sustainable, complementary kitchens offer which will build further equity in the Victoria Plum brand and deliver even greater commercial momentum for the business.”

Victoria Plum was founded 20 years ago and employs 398 people. The company was acquired by Leeds-based private equity fund Endless in October 2019.

For further information visit www.victoriaplum.com

New research has highlighted a lack of knowledge around who is legally responsible for ensuring installed plumbing products and appliances are compliant with the Water Fitting Regulations or Scottish Byelaws.

WRAS (Water Regulations Approval Scheme) has surveyed 500 UK adults responsible for water systems in non-household premises, to assess industry knowledge of compliance and the role played by WRAS.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents knew that plumbing products that are connected to the public water supply must be tested to demonstrate they are of suitable quality and standard, but far fewer knew who was responsible for ensuring those standards are met.

Little more than a third (35%) thought that facilities managers were legally responsible for checking the compliance of plumbing products and appliances which use water, prior to installation.

Just over one in four (26%) thought installers had responsibility.

A quarter (25%) thought tenants or occupiers were responsible, the same number as those who thought building owners were responsible.

WRAS Approvals Manager Ian Hughes says that the real answer is that all of those groups have a responsibility to ensure compliant products are used. While it is not illegal to sell non-compliant products under the regulations, it is illegal for non-compliant products to be installed on a system where the water is provided by a water company.

“Why take a gamble on a product that hasn’t been tested to show compliance? Plumbing products or fittings that do not comply with the water regulations or byelaws may pose a risk to health, as they can contaminate drinking water, or may leak, causing damage to property,” he said.

“If they are not compliant, these products cannot be used. If they are used, the subsequent remedial work can delay projects and mean unforeseen costs.

“In some instances, it could even lead to legal action and fines.”

A great way to ensure that products and fittings are suitable is to check if they are WRAS approved. A comprehensive list of WRAS approved products is available at https://www.wrasapprovals.co.uk/approvals-directory/

The research findings were revealed as a part of a wider survey into industry awareness of WRAS and its role in helping people and organisations to comply.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents said they were aware of the Water Regulations Approval Scheme, while over two thirds (67%) of respondents said they would trust a product if it bore the WRAS logo.

Carron Bathrooms and Eastbrook Company have announced following over twenty years of trading together they are terminating their partnership upon the expiry of Eastbrook’s current catalogue on 28th February 2022.

Carron Bathrooms has confirmed the decision came as the result of a shared strategic review into their partnership, and they part company on good terms.

Both companies confirm their priority in the disengagement process is to ensure that their loyal customers have continuity of supply throughout the remainder of 2021.

Carron will ensure that Eastbrook continues to access the products required to fulfil demand.

Caron Bathrooms long-term partners, Q4 Bathrooms, have been working closely with Carron over the last few weeks to increase their inventory and distribution capacity and they will announce an exciting new route to market on 1st December which they say will deliver an enhanced offering to its customers.

knightbridge Shaver light

Meeting the demand for charging points wherever in the house, Knightsbridge has designed its latest shaver light with a concealed dual USB charger as well as an integral dual voltage shaver socket.

Displaying elegant curves to complement modern bathroom tastes, the SL6USB LED Shaver Light is available in three finishes: chrome, white and matt black (SL6USBC, SL6USBW and SL6USBMB).

Constructed from robust polycarbonate, this 230V 6W shaver light is easy to clean and produces a warm white light and is rated to IP20.

It complements the SLULED, a 230V LED shaver/shelf light with a USB port and a single voltage shaver socket. The glass shelf can support loads of up to 2kg for the usual shaving paraphernalia (plus your smartphone whilst it’s set to charge), while the unit itself has a polished chrome finish and an opal diffuser.

And, if no USB is required, Knightsbridge – one of the UK’s leading brands of wiring devices, accessories and lighting – offers the SLIGHT2, a white polycarbonate LED shaver light with a dual voltage socket, covering all the essentials.

To discover the full Knightsbridge bathroom offering, be sure to download their latest e-brochure: The Complete Bathroom Range, at mlaccessories.co.uk.

In this exclusive interview, chief executive for the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, Tom Reynolds explains why he sees three economic hurdles looming on the horizon.

“When we assess the progress of the pandemic recovery on a global level, world output is recovering, but it’s fair to say it’s a bumpy ride.

“There are significant constraints across all economies due to supply problems, congestion at ports, and continuing Covid-related issues internationally. Demand for goods is considerably stronger than demand for services and that is positive news for those in the construction products markets like bathroom manufacturers.

“At BMA, our research conducted earlier this year, tracking demand and consumer intentions shows half the population is planning a full bathroom refurbishment. The poll also indicated the immediacy of refurb plans has increased, with 16% of Brits saying they plan to carry out bathroom works in the next 12 months compared to just 13% saying the same at the start of 2021. In fact, many bathroom tasks are viewed as more urgent now than they were at the start of the year.

“The sustained period of demand has created a boom for many construction-related sectors like ours. But in 2022 a new set of pressures may see the nation’s purse strings tighten.

“Firstly, it is now well-documented, economists are predicting bruising UK inflation hikes early next year, with the Bank of England forecasting inflation will hit or surpass 5%.

“The anticipation of this volatility is already taking its toll, with some linking a recent dip in consumer demand and spending levels to faltering confidence.

“Secondly, gas and electricity prices will increase again in April. Although most forecasters predict a correction in the long term, the short-term outlook for the energy markets is rocky. This is sending shockwaves through almost every part of society. The supplies we rely on to heat and light our homes, and to keep the wheels of industry turning, are soaring. When the cost of energy goes up, so too will the price of many other things, as costs inevitably get passed on.

“Thirdly, the housing market, which has buoyed the UK economy through choppy waters recently, is a fickle friend. The end of the stamp duty holiday, credited with fuelling a mini-boom, has prompted wildly varying predictions for the future, with some analysts foretelling a crash, while others are certain the lack of supply will continue to sustain the surge.

“These three challenges are not distinct, of course, they are both reactive and interdependent. In the last 24 months, we have seen an unimaginable set of medical and societal circumstances combining to create economic shocks. Some of that uncertainty and instability will continue for the time being, but despite these unpredictable factors, underlying demand remains high, so there is good reason to be optimistic.”