Bathroom retail market wins boost from DIY withdrawal

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A new report from MTW Research on the UK bathroom retail market finds that sales have increased by £235 million in the last 6 years, with a new boost for ‘full service’ bathroom retailers likely from 2019 following the withdrawal of B&Q’s Homefit installation services.

The 190 page report is good news for bathroom retailers, suggesting that the DIY channel is set to return to its roots as a DIY products retail channel, and away from ‘full service’ provision. Discussing the findings, director Mark Waddy said “The ‘traditional’ bathroom retailer excels at combining design, supply, install and post sales support as a ‘turn-key’ package. Other channels such as the Sheds and Internet only retailers appear to be unable to compete with this level of excellence and are positioning themselves very differently as a result.”

Increasingly innovative bathroom products demanding closer integration between retailer and installer are also boosting opportunities for the bathroom retail market, according to MTW. More technically complex products demanding enhanced design, supply and installation solutions are enabling retailers to trump many online and DIY retailers in 2018. Consumers specifying luxury and enhanced features require enhanced design and installation support with bathroom retailers succeeding in meeting this demand as profitability has risen by 2.5% per annum on average.

The independent report some erratic performance for bathroom retailers in recent years, but illustrates strong underlying fundamentals and growth opportunities in 2018 and beyond for those able to identify and adapt to current market trends. For example, population trends have continued to boost bathroom retailer sales in the north of the country, with North West bathroom retailers exceeding £120 million in sales in 2018.

Based on £530 million of data from bathroom retailers, the report identifies a softening of consumer demand which may result in a shift in product trends for the next 2-3 years. However, MTW point to the majority of retailers being well placed and having the ability and knowledge to adapt to these trends, with 45% of the market reporting growth in 2018. The report reviews bathroom product trends and shares and finds that sanitaryware and baths, brassware, showers and lighting continue to outpace the overall bathroom retail market in 2018.

The report discusses the increasingly dynamic bathroom market such as changes in the DIY multiples and online retail channels, growth in drop-shipping and likely Brexit scenarios amongst others, all pointing to a shifting market which needs to be carefully considered by bathroom retailers and manufacturers to maintain current growth.

Opportunities for growth are also identified by MTW, such as ‘4G’ multi-generational living boosting budgets and enhanced design, supply and installation services; rimless WCs boosting margins, ‘tech heavy’ bathrooms growing in popularity for the millennial generation; and the growth in the ‘showcase bathroom’ trend are just some of the opportunities identified in the report.