Tile Mountain increases head count as it moves to new Stoke HQ

The launch of Tile Mountain’s new purpose-built head office and distribution centre in Tunstall may come at a pertinent time for some of H&R Johnson’s workers who are set to be made redundant following restructuring.

With a year-on-year growth of 60%, and the processing of over 3,000 transactions per week, Tile Mountain is now investing in its future.  Part of this is a commitment to create a further 70 new jobs over the next three years.  The new job opportunities will cover many skill sets from warehousing to graphic design.

Jeremy Harris, Managing Director, said: “Johnson’s Tiles is a company we’ve enjoyed a great relationship with since starting Tile Mountain and the firm and its products have been a key driver of the success of our business over the past four years. We are sorry to hear of the proposed job losses, but believe that Tile Mountain may be able to offer employment to some of those affected.”

“As part of Tile Mountain’s investment in the Government-backed Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, we have committed to creating 70 jobs over the next three years at our new purpose-built 120,000 sq ft warehouse, showroom and office complex, situated on the 10 acre site that Johnson’s Highgate Works formerly occupied.  Tile Mountain is scheduled to relocate to the new facility in mid-April and we will be embarking upon a recruitment drive from that point.”

“We’d welcome applications from Johnson’s employees affected by redundancy and hope that we would be able to re-employ some of the workers in similar roles as they are created. Anyone interested in applying for a position at Tile Mountain should email careers@tilemountain.co.uk or check the careers page on our website, which will be regularly updated https://www.tilemountain.co.uk/careers/”

New Marshalls Tile and Stone branded trailers unveiled

Marshalls Tile and Stone Interiors has announced the introduction of three branded vehicles to the road, courtesy of haulage partner ADD and Pallex.  Proudly showcasing the stunning Valmont Polished Marble in an eye-catching herringbone pattern, the trailers are set to turn heads on their daily journey up and down the nation’s motorways.

Gemma Jones Trading Director at Marshalls Tile and Stone Interiors, comments: “Marshalls has a long standing relationship with haulage firm ADD with whom we have worked for many years to deliver outstanding service to our customers.  We are delighted to have the opportunity to promote the Marshalls Tile and Stone brand on the new trailer fleet.”

Marshalls Tile and Stone retailers can be found online at: www.marshalls.co.uk/ tile-and-stone.  For more information call: 0345 308 30 30.

Johnson Tiles set to make up to 25% of workforce redundant in major restructuring programme


Johnson Tiles, the Stoke-on-Trent-based tile-manufacturer, is set to lay off nearly 100 staff – a quarter of its 400-strong workforce – as part of a major restructuring programme.  The latest job cuts come after the tile-maker made around 75 staff redundant in 2013.

Staff at the Harewood Street factory were told the news at a meeting held at the beginning of March.  Management at the 115-year-old firm have launched a 30-day consultation with affected employees, and union leaders are negotiating with the company on behalf of their members.

In a statement, parent company Norcros said: “We are starting a major programme to re-structure H&R Johnson.  Regrettably, as part of this re-structuring, around 90 jobs will be lost.  We are starting a 30-day consultation process which we expect to be completed by April 7.”

News of the redundancies follows the revelation by Norcros last year that Johnson Tiles’ revenue had dropped from £59.7 million in 2015 to £54.1 million in 2016.

Bill McDonald, Chairman of Tunstall Chamber of Trade, stated: “It is really sad to hear.  It is such a big name in Tunstall that used to employ a lot of people from the area,” said McDonald.

“Generations used to work there. Everybody used to know someone who was employed there. Johnson Tiles has been in Tunstall for as long as I can remember and the company is still held in high esteem.”
“It is certainly not as big it used to be during the 1960s, but to lose nearly 25% of the workforce is huge.  It is a blow for Tunstall. It will be really hard for the workers, some of which I’m sure will never have worked anywhere else.”

Johnson Tiles was founded in 1901 and was formerly based at Brownhills Road in Tunstall. It has operated at its current Harewood Street site since 2001. Among its biggest recent contracts had been to supply tiles for the 2012 Olympic Village in London.

Sara Williams, Chief Executive of Staffordshire Chamber of Trade, said: “Johnson Tiles is a really exciting and innovative company but every business goes through fluxes and it is sad to see jobs go.”

Around 7,000 people in Stoke-on-Trent are currently directly employed by the ceramics industry.

This report draws on item in The Stoke Sentinel.

Gareth Gray joins growing Tilemaster team

Gareth Gray has joined Tilemaster as Area Sales Manager for its Flooring Division, for the North, Midlands, Scotland and Ireland.  In his role, Gareth will work with flooring distributors and contractors, offering daily technical and specification support, carrying out site visits and organising demonstration days.

Gray’s flooring career started straight from school, working in carpet retail and establishing two successful agencies.  He then worked with Headlam for 12 years, and Mapei, before joining the Tilemaster team.

“Having great support from everyone here has enabled me to hit the ground running.  It’s an exciting time at Tilemaster, with new fixer-focused products being launched, and lots of exciting innovations underway in the lab.  This is all underpinned by Tilemaster’s family ethos and customer focus, and I’m really looking forward to developing the flooring side of the business,” explained Gareth.

Established in 1990, Tilemaster Adhesives is a UK-based family business renowned for its family virtues of care for its customers. It offers a comprehensive range of flooring products, manufactured to the highest standards at its plant in Leyland, Lancashire.  Tilemaster’s one-to-one customer service spans from product formulation and packaging, to technical site support.
To find out more, please contact Tilemaster Adhesives on tel. 01772 456831, email info@tilemasteradhesives.co.uk  or visit www.tilemasteradhesives.co.uk.

Australian DIY Bunnings opens first UK warehouse in St Albans as it embarks on £500 million reinvigoration of Homebase

The UK DIY market is set for a radical shake-up that will impact B&Q, Wickes, Selco Builders Warehouse and Screwfix; and may well have significant knock-on effects for the UK’s tile retailers.

Australia’s iconic home and DIY retailer Bunnings Warehouse has opened its first UK store in St Albans, Hertfordshire; the new 67,000 sq ft shed replacing an old Homebase store.

The opening is the first visible step in a £500 to £750 million investment plan by Bunnings’ parent company Wesfarmers, which bought Homebase in January 2016 in a deal worth £340 million.
Wesfarmers plans to open at least four pilot Bunnings locations by June, and up to 10 stores could open by the end of 2017.

Wesfarmers aims to roll out Bunnings – an iconic retail chain in Australia known for its charity ‘sausage sizzles’ – across Homebase’s UK and Ireland estate over the next three to five years, having kept 258 Homebase stores as part of the deal with the previous owners, the Home Retail Group.

Wesfarmers, which also owns one of Australia’s biggest supermarket chains, Coles, estimates that the UK’s home improvement and garden market is worth £38bn.

In June 2016, Wesfarmers reversed some of the planned Homebase store closures. It also hired Matt Tyson, a former executive at UK rival Kingfisher, to work alongside retail guru Archie Norman to develop the strategy to revise Homebase’s fortunes.

“The unique thing about Matt is not just his B&Q and Kingfisher knowledge, but he knows us in a really intriguing way because he has fought against us,” John Gillam, Chief Executive of Bunnings Group, told the FT.  Tyson was previously at the Masters DIY chain in Australia.

Bunnings is a very dynamic retailer, and generates 10%+  operating profit; far higher than either Homebase or B&Q.  Wesfarmers’ five-year investment plan is dependent on the success of the 12 pilot UK Bunnings stores that are due to be rolled out over the next 18 months.

Since taking control of the business, Wesfarmers has removed almost the entire Homebase executive team, axed 20% of the employees at the DIY retailer’s HQ and agreed to pay all staff at least £7.20 an hour.

“Overall we are job creators,” states Gillam, who has led Bunnings’ business in Australia and New Zealand since 2004, in an article in the FT.  “We saved 200 jobs by reversing some of the planned store closures at Homebase and we are fighting hard to save another 500 jobs.”

“Our policy is to offer customers the lowest prices, the widest range and best service, and hopefully our first pilot store demonstrates that,” states Bunnings UK and Ireland Managing Director, Peter Davis.  “We are laying strong foundations on which to build the Bunnings Warehouse business in the UK and Ireland for generations to come.”

The St Albans warehouse will stock 30,000 different home and garden lines, and features both a 19,000 sq. ft garden centre and a DIY workshop where customers are coached in home improvement skills, such as tile cutting.  The store also has a café and indoor children’s playground.

It employs 68 staff with a third aged over 50: a mixture of former plumbers, painters, electricians, landscape gardeners and other tradespeople.

Meanwhile, the iconic barbecued sausage sandwich, or ‘sausage sizzle’, will be retained as part of an aggressive marketing campaign.

The St Albans store is a Bunnings Warehouse – the chain’s biggest store format – and one of four planned prototypes for the DIY chain that will replace Homebase over the next five years if the pilots prove successful.

While Homebase  sought to attract female DIY shoppers with brands like Laura Ashley and Habitat. Bunnings will be more of a basic DIY warehouse operation.

“We’ve made the decision to be a home improvement and garden retailer and have got rid of the duvets, cushions and coffee cups,” Davis told the FT. “We’re going back to the core of home improvement and garden. We don’t want to sell the soft side. There are plenty of other retailers, like Dunelm, Ikea and Next, doing a good job of that.”

In Australia, Bunnings doesn’t sell online – although its website is very popular thanks to its library of ‘how-to’ DIY videos.  It will be selling online in the UK, but has no plans to offer ‘click and collect’; preferring to focus on the key in-store customer experience.

In Australia, Bunnings wins plaudits for in-store standards, thanks in part for its decision to recruit retired tradesmen to work in its stores.  It is set to follow the same successful formula in its UK operation.

Bunnings can be expected to take the ceramic tile category seriously going forward. In Australia is has partnered with expert suppliers such as Décor8, Bellazza, Johnson Tiles Australia, Cotto, James Hardie, Roberts Designs, Kimgres and DTA Australia, and is respected as a significant force in the tile sector.

In the UK it can be expected to capitalise on the indoor-out living trend with a strong range of exterior-friendly floor tiles, along the lines of its 300 by 300 and 600 by 600mm Element and Coulson ranges.  In Australia, outdoor living is a key component of Bunnings’  offer.

Bunnings UK has released details of the three remaining pilot stores, with a second earmarked for St Albans in April and two others planned for Hemel Hempstead and Milton Keynes.  Although opening dates are not yet known for the third and fourth outlets, the company has stated that store development has been planned to capitalise on the important summer 2017 trading period.

Bunnings is the leading retailer of home improvement and outdoor living products in Australia and New Zealand.  Bunnings caters for both consumer and commercial customers.  Revenue across the 2015 financial year totalled $9.5 billion. In December 2016 there were 248 warehouses, 73 smaller format stores, and 33 trade centres operating across Australia and New Zealand, and employing over 40,000.

BAL supports mosaic artist for public art project

BAL have helped mosaic artist Melanie Watts create stunning mosaic murals for a public art project raising awareness of endangered species.  Watts used BAL adhesives and grouts to create a stunning glass mosaic of an endangered white barn owl for the Gyosei Art Trail on the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes which has attracted visitors from across the UK and internationally.

Each individually cut piece of glass brings the piece together, using soft and delicate colours to capture the delicate autumnal light, ranging from golds to yellows to stunning vibrant reds and oranges seen on a stunning autumn day.  For this piece, Watts created drawings based on her own photographs of forestry along the canal. She has also created a beautiful butterfly and buddleia mural using BAL Max Flex Fibre adhesive and BAL Micromax2 grout.

“People around the world tell me my mosaic work is beautiful and uplifting,” says Watts.  “Opportunities to work internationally and on TV have been amazing!  I create bespoke drawings with unique themes, and source beautiful and colourful materials to ensure the artwork really holds the viewers’ attention.   My style is versatile and includes both contemporary and traditional mosaic to create stunning mosaic for walls and floors.  The longevity of mosaic is outstanding due to all materials used, including those from BAL, which are tested to ensure suitability for their installation environment.”

BAL has recently teamed up with the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) to put on specialist training workshops for mosaic mural artists looking to develop their knowledge and skills for the professional installation of mosaics.  The course includes insights into the best practices for preparation, fixing and finishing installations and an overview on product technologies.
T: 01782 591100.  E: training@building-adhesives.com