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Taking the collaborative approach

Brexit radically altered the buying landscape for tile retailers and many are still struggling to deal with the fallout. But some of the challenges can be overcome with a collaborative approach – says Peter Vann, director of Ceramique Internationale

Let’s start with the good news. The floor and wall tiles sector regained market value last year and that growth is expected to continue at higher rates than before the Covid pandemic. So, encouragingly, says the AMA Research Floor & Wall Tiles Market Report, UK 2022-2026.

But it also warns of potential supply shortages for imported products due the new challenges now familiar to every tile buyer. Logistical difficulties and the higher costs of transport, onerous customs clearance charges and the list of Brexit-related boxes that have to be ticked is long, confusing, time-consuming and costly.

The upturn in the market is due in no small part to the revitalised interest in home improvement sparked by lockdown. Customers are increasingly looking beyond the more practical ‘everyday’ tile ranges and demanding something with a lot more design complexity and style to give their home that added wow factor.

The problem for smaller retailers is that, while customers are demanding higher value tiles, keeping large stocks of products that sell in relatively small quantities ties up space and, more importantly, cash.

Consider on-trend ranges such as Marazzi’s Zellige effects – the 100×100 series has 12 colours, and its award winning oblong Lume another 12.

The viability of direct importation for these tiles in room-lots is questionable, and as tiles are the last thing to be installed, the extended lead times in place create consumer frustration. The Amazon culture of immediacy that Covid stimulated isn’t possible.

I believe that if buyers put “we only ever buy direct” attitudes to one side, a collaborative approach is to everybody’s benefit.

Sourcing from Ceramique Internationale is quicker, easier and satisfies consumer demand in this sector. Retailers add value to their offer with prestige tile ranges that are immediately available – including for home delivery at no extra cost.

There are over 70 desirable wall and floor SKUs to consider from our stock portfolio – all are easy to merchandise due to their smaller format. Better solutions for retailers to provide customers with the widest possible choices that that are both immediate and profitable
The AMA Research report states: “With the UK’s significant levels of imports, the roles of intermediaries, such as agents, importers and distributors are more important than for other sectors of the home decoration market.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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