The British bathroom world was very different 30 years ago when Levent Giray and his team brought VitrA to the UK. According to VitrA it was one of the first European manufacturers to break into the market – which was dominated by British names – thanks to its quality manufacturing, strength in domestic market leadership and innovative production capabilities.

When VitrA entered the UK market in the early 1990s, the company already had 30 years of experience in ceramic manufacturing, ten years of experience in brassware manufacturing, and an enviable portfolio of products.

While VitrA brought new design styles into the UK, products were always produced according to UK plumbing systems. VitrA also designed products explicitly suited to the British market, such as the Chelsea and Chartwell ranges. The company was also one of the first non-British manufacturers to become a member of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, reflecting its sense of duty to the UK industry.

VitrA says appearances at shows such as ISH and Interbuild, showing innovative, quality products, won VitrA support early on among independent retailers. Ranges like VitrA’s Riva, Pluto, and Berwick are still remembered by retailers who built their business on these and other ranges. VitrA has played a key role in pivotal bathroom design developments, including wall-hung pans, which the brand has manufactured since the late 1980s.

VitrA also claims to be one of the first to introduce an affordable, good-looking shower toilet option into the UK market. Not only is the popular V-Care shower toilet priced incredibly competitively, but it’s also virtually indistinguishable from a regular wall-hung toilet. 

VitrA has always had a strong focus on innovation. In the early days, according to the brand, it brand pioneered advanced manufacturing technology, including the integration of CAD software. In 2011, VitrA opened the Innovation Centre. This state-of-the-art research and development centre produces and trials new products and technologies for international markets, specifically for the UK market, considering the UK demands for plumbing, water variations and space requirements. Several unique solutions, such as VitrA Rim-ex rimless technology and VitrA Hygiene ceramic glaze, have originated from the Innovation

Continuous investment over the thirty years allowed VitrA to lead manufacturing processes and remain hugely flexible in logistics and supply. In the UK, this was enhanced by building relationships with the strongest British distributors – early on with Scorpion and later Barwick and Davroc.

Over the years, VitrA has worked hard to build retailer relationships and introduce the brand to the British public. VitrA started the Showrooms of Excellence programme in the late 1990s, which continues today as an integral part of the sales strategy. These longstanding and effective partnerships form a network of retail experts that keep VitrA close to the marketplace. Building on the success of the retail market, VitrA started to supply to the commercial market over 20 years ago. Within the first five years, the company won the contract for the new Heathrow T5 terminal and created the K basins specifically for this project. VitrA has also nurtured relationships within the hospitality sector, including IHG & Hilton, leveraging the company’s global presence. 

VitrA has also built longstanding relationships with architects, developers and housebuilders in the residential contracts market. In the early 2000s, VitrA started working with Urban Splash on projects including Moho, designed by shedkm, and Chips, designed by Will Alsop. Recent residential projects for VitrA include The Cocoa Works apartments by Latimer and the Phoenix apartments by Capital and Centric.

VitrA has developed a reputation for outstanding design. In the early 2000s, VitrA launched a collaboration with Welsh designer Ross Lovegrove.

Levent Giray, retiring Managing Director (end of July 2022), says, “It is fair to say we have come a long way in three decades. Brands pre-eminent when we arrived have largely disappeared. Internet sales and the IoT are pervasive, with companies interacting directly with consumers in ways unimaginable back then. The future is exciting. Leaving VitrA after 30 years is bittersweet, but in the skilful hands of Steve Breen and the team, I know that VitrA will continue to build on its reputation for good design, high-quality products and top customer service.” 

Managing Director Steve Breen says, “I’m delighted to be leading VitrA through this next chapter. VitrA is in fantastic shape with a great team of staff and management. The foundations built over 30 years mean we are well placed for the next 30.”