International bathroom brand VitrA is celebrating 30 years of supplying bathrooms in the UK.
“The British bathroom world was very different 30 years ago when Levent Giray and his team brought VitrA to the UK,” the company says. It succeeded in the market (which at the time was dominated by British names) thanks to quality manufacturing, strength in domestic market leadership and innovative production capabilities.
When the company entered the UK market in the early 1990s, it had 30 years’ experience in ceramic manufacturing and 10 years’ experience in brassware manufacturing. From the very start though, VitrA says it showed commitment to acting as a British manufacturer, as opposed to an importer. While it brought design styles into the UK, products were always produced according to UK plumbing systems. The company also designed products suited specifically to the British market, such as the Chelsea and Chartwell ranges. It was also reportedly one of the first non-British manufacturers to become a member of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, reflecting what it describes as a sense of duty to the UK industry.
Appearances at shows such as ISH and Interbuild won VitrA support early on among independent retailers, the manufacturer recalls.
The company was also a forerunner of several bathroom design developments, including wall-hung pans, which the brand has manufactured since the late 1980s. It was also reportedly one of the first companies to introduce an affordable shower toilet option into the UK market.
In its early days, the brand adopted advanced manufacturing technology, including the integration of CAD software. In 2011, the company opened an innovation centre, where it produces and trials products and technologies. These research and development efforts are targeted at both international markets and the UK market specifically, considering the UK demands of plumbing, water variations and space requirements. Products including the company’s Rim-ex rimless technology and Hygiene ceramic glaze originated at the innovation centre.
Continuous investment over thirty years has allowed the company to remain flexible in logistics and supply. In the UK, this was enhanced by building relationships with distributors – early on with Scorpion, and later Barwick and Davroc.
The company has worked hard to build retailer relationships and introduce the brand to the British public. It started a “Showrooms of Excellence” programme in the late 1990s which continues today as part of the company’s sales strategy. These longstanding retail partnerships form a network that keeps VitrA close to the marketplace, the company says.
Building on the success of the retail market, the company also began to supply to the commercial market over 20 years ago. Within five years, the company won the contract for the Heathrow T5 terminal and created the K basins for this project. The company has also nurtured relationships within the hospitality sector including IHG & Hilton.
Today, VitrA operates more than 2,000 sqm of warehouse space in Oxfordshire and a team of over 60 people. Last year, it opened a showroom in London for architects, designers, and specifiers, marking a milestone in the company’s journey. VitrA London is not only a space to showcase products, the company says, but also to engage with the community through events, workshops, and installations.