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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
8th January 2010


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International News

Welcome to the

While producing this latest issue of KBZine I wondered where everyone would be whilst reading it... whether, because of the unusual arctic weather conditions that have brought much of Europe to a virtual standstill, you've managed to make it into your place of work yet or whether you're picking up your work emails and reading this in the comfort of your home (if you still have heat and light).

Wherever you are, we wish you a Happy New Year and hope that 2010 will prove to be a good year for you.

I heard this morning that the cost of a single day of absenteeism in the UK alone, caused by disruption such as this, is estimated to be some £230million. But what can a business do to minimise the damage?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development says employees should do their best to get into work on foot, or where travel is less badly affected. Where they are genuinely unable to get in, decisions will need be taken as to whether to grant special leave, whether to require employees to take annual leave, or whether to shut down operations altogether. While there is no right or wrong answer, employers must take care to be consistent in the way they make the necessary decisions – guided by existing policies where relevant, to ensure that they are seen to be fair to all workers.

Employers should make clear to employees that they should not risk life and limb to get to work, and be understanding if employees need to leave early to avoid getting stranded unnecessarily on their way home – particularly if conditions worsen during the working day. Where employees are required to drive for work, employers also have a health & safety duty to ensure drivers are allowed extra time to complete journeys and factor in alternative routes – and that they are not pressurised to complete any journeys made dangerously difficult by the weather.

And although many 'white collar' employees might be able to work perfectly well from home for a day or two, the Forum of Private Business has warned that it is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that their houses meet health & safety standards! I've been thinking about this one all day and can't imagine how they're reasonably supposed to do that, or what the penalties might be if an employee has an accident or something and it's found that he or she was working in an unsafe environment at home!

Having fallen foul of the weather around this time last year, when I was due to take delivery of a couple of large kitchen appliances which could not be moved out of the warehouse because of the conditions, I am aware of the problems it causes and the knock on effects where undelivered products start to bank up. If you're normally very busy, how on earth do you catch up? And then of course there's all the extra liaison with either the customer or trades person to ensure that someone is available to sign for the goods when they finally arrive.

I've become more aware of some of the problems this year, having attempted to oversee the fitting of a new kitchen for my mother while she's away over Christmas. Various parts weren't delivered because of the snow, gas fitters and electricians had to be delayed as a result... and now the appliances are in place the trades people can't get to the job!

And of course if the gas has been turned off ready for the hob to be connected and the trades person forgets to turn the gas (and therefore the heating) back on before leaving, there's the problem of frozen pipes to deal with... Luckily my mother's snowed in slightly north of Watford and won't be back home until everything's perfect!

Stay safe, and if you do have to let people down because of the weather, I hope they're as reasonable and understanding about it as I've been...



Jan Hobbs

This Week's News

Maytag's washer now in classic black

* Maytag_classic_black.jpgIt's the super intelligent, freestanding washer that is equally able as a powerful stand-alone unit or as the stunning centrepiece of a total laundry room concept. Styled in classic black and carrying an 'A+' washing performance, Maytag's versatile MWA 0714FBC washer can smoothly fit into your lifestyle in any way you wish.

The laundry room concept being promoted by Maytag has proved an enormously popular option in the United States, adding value to the home by creating a specific room or area of the home for all washing needs. The company offers a top quality range of products for all washing solutions, including washers, tumble dryers, drying cabinets and a great range of 'hidden helpers' such as ironing boards, rotary irons, pedestal drawers, laundry care baskets and sorting units.

However, for those who don't have that additional elusive space, the Maytag MWA 0714FBC is a formidable solo act, requiring the minimum of effort from the user. Intelligent, intuitive programming takes away all the hassle and ensures high levels of energy and water efficiency.
With Maytag, too, the most advanced technology is consistently matched by classic style and solid construction of professional build quality. The machine is thus more durable and reliable, as well as being quieter and smoother in operation and performance. Maytag's patented Quattro construction, for example, provides greater stability than comparative machines.

Two new distributors for Franke

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Kitchen specialist, Franke, has recently appointed two new distributors - Leaker Direct and Cooper Callas. Both distributors offer Franke's full range of sinks, taps, hoods and kitchen solutions, and Franke is confident that both companies will deliver high service to meet the exacting standards of Franke.

Leaker Direct is Scotland's largest independent appliance distributor, and the company is a one stop shop for all kitchen appliance and accessory needs.

New Pulsar tap range from Pegler Yorkshire lights up the market


Pegler Yorkshire is demonstrating it still has its finger on the pulse of the tap market. With the introduction of several new tap ranges in 2009, Pulsar is the latest offering from the Francis Pegler portfolio for 2010.

Clean, fresh and minimalistic, Pulsar is designed to give an exciting new look to any bathroom or kitchen. The kitchen bridge mixer with its gracefully arched spout is a particularly striking design, but with 14 distinctive pieces in the range, strong interest is anticipated.

In recognition of the drive to conserve water, the Pulsar portfolio will offer eco versions throughout the range. Even on full flow, the taps are still water saving by comparison to more traditional products, but to save additional water, the handles come with three flow positions. Position one is suitable for brushing teeth, while position two provides enough water for hand washing. The maximum flow is used for basin fill. These versions will help make a contribution to the inevitable release of Part G of the building regulations and ever changing legislation in this area.

2010 Bathroom Conference announced

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Customer Service is set to be the underlying theme of this year's Bathroom Conference, announced on Wednesday. The Bathroom Manufacturers Association has confirmed that this important event in the bathroom calendar will be held on 19th October at the Carden Park Hotel, near Chester, Cheshire.
A formidable line up of speakers has already been booked for the event.

"Plans for the bathroom conference are well in hand," says Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive of the BMA. "This year we will be looking in detail at customer service and the customer experience, two vital ingredients for a good bathroom business, whether it is in manufacturing, merchanting, retailing or installation. There will be something for everyone.

"The 2009 Conference, by general opinion, was an enormous success and the BMA is looking to build on this and to increase the numbers of delegates attending this year with this early announcement of the date and venue."

Hate recycling? Look this way

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The nuisance of recycling is now an everyday problem, but we all know that it's the right thing to do. Everyone has a different way of doing it - bags, or boxes in the kitchen, in the garden, squashed into a cupboard until the next trip to the supermarket. Even for those lucky enough to have kerbside collections, where do you store your recycled materials until the collection date? Wouldn't it be good to be able to store your recycled material out of the way and out of sight?

The answer is here in the shape of the Compactor built-in kitchen bin range from Recycologic. The Compactor kits convert your kitchen cupboard and door into the most versatile, compacting recycling bin available.

Mark Wilkinson awarded OBE

English furniture designer Mark Wilkinson has been honoured with an OBE for Services to the Furniture Industry and to Charity, in the 2010 New Year's Honours listings published on 31st December. The investiture of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is the culmination of a year of honours for the design maestro.

In April 2009 he was invested with the Fellowship of the City & Guilds Institute, at a ceremony in London, for the support he has given over the years to skills training, education and qualification in, both furniture-making and design creativity. In July 2009 he was awarded the medal of the Order of the League of Mercy for his support of the specialist teaching charity Dyslexia Action - a cause dear to his heart as he is dyslexic himself. The Medal was pr

Stephen Joseph takes financial stake in Theobald's Distribution

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Stephen Joseph, the former managing director of Allied Kingswood, has taken a controlling interest in Kent-based Theobald's Distribution.

Stephen, who has been acting as a consultant to Theobald's since September 2009, becomes the CEO of the company and will be working with present directors Jamie Gardiner (Operations Director) and Steve Brooks (Sales Director).

Tile Depot store and head office to move to trading estate

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Tile Depot, thought to be the UK's largest independent tile and stone retailer, is delighted with the relocation of its Slough store and head office from main road premises on the outskirts of the town to a prominent retail unit joining Screwfix, Kwik Fit and Senate Electrical on Farnham Road Trade Park, part of the renowned, world-class Slough Trading Estate.

The new Tile Depot store opened on 4th January with a bigger, better showroom to make shopping easier and double the warehousing capacity for more stock. In store, more displays flaunt the popular retailer's comprehensive range of ceramic, porcelain and natural stone, mosaic and feature tiles in glass and other materials along with wooden flooring, underfloor heating and all tools, adhesives, grouts, trims and accessories to complete any project.

Trend forecast 2010: Kitchen intelligence, colourful confidence, purposeful bespoke and eastern details...

* evittavon.jpgThe expert design team at Evitavonni predicts some interesting design trends for 2010. Design-savvy consumers can expect to see several key themes emerging including kitchen-intelligence, colourful confidence, purposeful bespoke and modern eastern. These four themes work together to provide interiors that are intuitive, brighter, more lifestyle specific and more globally influenced than ever before, says the company.

Kitchen Intelligence by kitchen designer Tristan de la Haye:
"Kitchen intelligence is all about creating a space that not only looks good but works effectively, suits your lifestyle and is as environmentally friendly and as sustainable as possible. Green issues have been part of the kitchen design conversation for some time but their effect on overall interior design has been fairly minimal to date partly due to the quality and limited availability of good 'green' products. A rise in consumer knowledge teamed with new EU laws on energy efficiency for 2010 and 2011 should see this change dramatically. I expect all cabinet makers will begin to use FSC timbers as standard and kitchen appliances will become infinitely more efficient. Other factors affecting kitchen design is the rise of the at-home chef persona, popular TV shows like MasterChef have inspired a nation of budding Heston Blumenthal's who require clever kitchens to cook and entertain in. These consumers want more space for professional appliances and high performing equipment to fully flex their culinary skills. My top tip for colour in the kitchen during 2010 is a return to white, not the bright white of the minimalist period but a deeper chalky white."

30% off promo for William Ball's new Phoebe

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Leading manufacturer of high quality kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture William Ball has further extended its offering of high quality, contemporary kitchens with the addition of Phoebe to its new Series Linea range... and for a limited time William Ball retailers can take advantage of a special launch promotion on the Phoebe kitchen, with 30% off complete units in the range when specified on aluminum and 20% when specified on white cabinets.

The Phoebe kitchen features a high-gloss slab-style door in bright white with an ultra-modern 2mm aluminum effect trim. An alternative aluminum profile strip can be specified for a more minimalist effect, featuring concealed handles or a choice of touch-opening systems. Cabinets are available in a variety of dimensions and depths, and can be ordered as conventional fascias with either front-fixing or inset handles.

Simpsons adds luxury to the bathroom with Lux Elements

* Lux_Elements.jpgSimpsons has responded to the fast growing demand for wetrooms in the home by bringing the expertise of Lux Elements, a name synonymous with the best in wetroom design for over 20 years, to the consumer market.

Manufactured to the highest environmental standards in Germany, Lux Elements is already one of the first choices in UK commercial wetroom environments. The easy-to-fit systems mean that both retailers and installers can offer wetrooms to the consumer market with confidence.

Vitreous China Plumbing Fixture report now available

The Vitreous China Plumbing Fixture and China and Earthenware Bathroom Accessories Manufacturing Industry report is said to be the most comprehensive market research report available on this industry. It provides updated data and analysis on the industry's key financial data, cost and pricing, competitive landscape, industry structure, and trends and opportunities.

In 2008, the value of imported products within this industry into the US has been relatively high, at approximately 100% of US production. Because of this reliance on imports, the report covers the foreign trade statistics including the top 25 countries the US imports from and their respective import values.

Domestic kitchen and bathroom worktops market - UK 2009-2013 - just published

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A newly published AMA report reviews the kitchen and bathroom worktops market in the UK and considers future prospects.
The report confirms that the kitchen worktop market showed steady growth between 2000 and 2007, reaching a market size of £190m by 2007. However, the start of the decline in the housebuilding sector, together with a downturn in consumer spending and tighter financial conditions were the main causes of the downturn in the market in 2008 and in 2009.

The kitchen furniture and worktops market is at the mature stage of its product lifecycle. Consumer awareness is high and purchasing decisions tend to be based on design, colour and materials. Also, as awareness is high, consumers are constantly looking to new ideas or solutions to create differential in their homes, hence added value solutions have been popular in recent years.
The value of the total kitchen worktop market is forecast to decline significantly in 2009, falling by 10% to reach £162m, having already fallen by 5% in 2008, mainly as a result of the declining economic environment, the deferral of high ticket purchases by consumers, contraction in the housebuilding sector, a severe reduction in the number of house purchases and the high level of price competition.

A one-stop brochure from Aqata

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Aqata, the UK shower manufacturer renowned for quality, innovation and design, has launched a new, improved version of its product brochure entitled 'the complete collection'.

Packed with inspiring photographs and detailed facts about the company's versatile range of enclosures, screens, doors, showers, trays and bathroom accessories, this latest version also includes prices, including and excluding VAT.

BCG adds value to its keenly priced service with Airmiles

Kitchen, bathroom and heating distributor BCG now offers its customers Airmiles against their purchases, following its launch of the travel reward scheme at the start of the year.

The incentive scheme, which has been enthusiastically embraced by all of BCG's key suppliers, offers customers the chance to collect Airmiles across a broad range of the BCG product portfolio, with a higher number of miles being awarded for specific product ranges and promotions.

Travis Perkins takes stake in Mosaic Tile Company

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Travis Perkins, one of the UK's leading companies in the builders' merchanting and home improvement market, has bought a 49% stake in Leeds-based natural stone tile distributor, The Mosaic Tile Company, for an undisclosed sum.

The Mosaic Tile Company, which includes trading divisions; Romana Tile Company, Verona Stone Company and Stone Nation, was founded by Adrian Hinchliffe in 2000. Following the deal, he will retain 51% of the company and remain as managing director.

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Jan Hobbs
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