Could the steady flow become a trickle?

By Jess Brunette March 15, 2017 Wet Areas

Wet areas are doing well but is the hardware channel taking the good times for granted? Jess Brunette reports.

To view a PDF of the complete feature as it appeared in NZ Hardware Journal magazine, click the download button at the bottom of this page.

Speaking to major suppliers who deal with the front wall of anything plumbed, it appears that the wet areas category is in fine fettle. Looking at where business is coming from, Christchurch does seem to be waning as the rebuild continues its steady trip toward maturation, with reports that sales in the area are either “softening” or showing “major fall-off”.

Luckily, Auckland and its surrounding areas are more than making up for any shortfall from down south. Apart from Auckland, suppliers are seeing good sales in Hamilton and southward including Bay of Plenty.

Many players are theorising that the rise in Auckland’s property market is having a kind of “halo effect” on nearby regions, as people sell up in Auckland to take their cash where it goes further or use their increased equity to purchase investment properties outside of the scarily overpriced Auckland market.

Taking full advantage of this buoyant market, Foreno’s Jon Doherty for one reports that the last 12 months has been “very strong” for the company, helped also by a significant rebranding initiative for the company’s logo and packaging in its ranges along with a renewed focus on New Zealand design that has been well received by Foreno’s retail partners.

Doherty also attributes much of the company’s recent success to a large influx of new team members with strong industry experience, including a new general manager running the factory.



Also doing well is Aquatica, whose Martin Jennison reports that the company’s laundry tubs are “going forward very well” along with steady uptake of its sink mixers and slide showers. Regarding style trends in wet areas, Jennison has seen a lot of enquiry for increased colour options and it would be safe to say that all suppliers are increasing their range of colours to appeal to consumer demand.

Tony de Ruiter, General Manager at Athena Bathrooms & Clearlite Bathrooms, for instance, has made significant changes to the colours available in Athena vanities, dropping three colours and adding five more to refresh the range with around 16 colours set to be available in April. Despite this, white remains the predominate colour by a country mile in this category, with black or very dark grey the second choice.

The same goes for tapware where the trend for black continues to the point where it is seen by some as becoming less a fad, and more of an obligatory option for suppliers to offer their customers.

In fact, whether it’s tapware or handles and fixtures in all areas around the home, many suppliers I have spoken to feel that even though white remains the predominate choice, suppliers who offer more colours seem to have better responses with the range of colours drawing in customers initially, who then go back to the safe choice of white after careful consideration.

When I asked Tony de Ruiter where he feels these consumer demands are originating, he credits reality TV as a major influence with international home improvement programmes and local options such as The Block not only determining colour trends but also the types of products being chosen. For instance, de Ruiter feels a steady movement away from drop-in baths in favour of free standing and back-to-wall options is one of the most pronounced trends influenced by home improvement programs.

Regardless of where these trends are coming from, the important thing is that New Zealand consumers are now
very much engaged in choosing what goes into the bathroom or kitchen space and this has translated into healthy business for players in this category. But can this last? Tony de Ruiter remains optimistic but is realistic about the current market, inferring that most players are “making hay while the sun shines.”

So what does he feel is the biggest concern for major players when the market is in your favour?

“Really our biggest challenge right now is to make sure that we continue to reinvent ourselves and don’t just sit around and pat ourselves on the back, because you just have to keep moving forward,” he says. “We know that at some point the market is going to reach its peak. Have we already got there? Hopefully not.”  


Foreno Eclipse now cooler than ever

Foreno is happy to announce that its popular Eclipse Sink Mixer is now available in white and black chrome models to meet the current demand for coloured tapware. These models are Watermark certified, suit all pressures from 35kpa with max pressure of 500kpa and max temperature 65 degrees and come with a 10 year warranty.


Colour sync with your sink

Need to install a food waste disposer to colour match your benchtop and without wall switch access? It’s not a problem, thanks to Air Switch covers from InSinkErator. Air Switch installs quickly and easily to any sink or countertop. Since wall switch access is not necessary, the switch is perfect for island installations and you can match the colour with sink flange and stopper too. The easy-to-reach push button switch acts as a syringe, pushing air through a hose that controls the power module and activates the switch inside. Whether building new or updating a kitchen, Air Switch, Stoppers and Flanges are an essential appliance accessory for kitchen convenience and style.

Wet areas get the diamond touch

New to Tusk Tools is the diamond tipped VB Core Bit drill that wet area trades such as tilers and plumbers will use to make their lives easier when fitting bathroom ware or laying tiles. Designed to be run on an impact drill, its quick change hex fit design guarantees stability in standard chucks too. A special waxed filled core melts, lubricates and cools when drilling stone, ceramic tiles or porcelain.

Motio deserves a standing ovation

Singing in the shower just got easier with Athena’s Motio soft close sliding shower. It features a minimalist soft closing sliding door paired with contemporary NZ made shower trays. Suitable for two sided and alcove installations the Motio comes in sizes: 1200x1000, 1400x1000, 1600x1000 and 1800x1000. Retailers, designers and tradespeople won’t have to wait long for their copy of the all new Athena Bathrooms catalogue which is due for release in April. Get in early to secure your copy.


Black is the new Aquatica Black

Black is very much ‘on trend’ as showcased in all the homeware shows in Europe and the US over the last 6 months and right on cue is Aquatica’s new, full range of black powder coated products: Basin Mixer, Shower Mixer, Shower Mixer Bath Divertor, Sink Mixer Bath Spout and Slide Shower. These quality mixers are all tested and assembled in New Zealand to meet stringent local standards. Specifications and warranties for each product include: All pressure, minimum pressure 35kpa; European Cartridge; 5 year warranty on cartridge and seals and 2 year warranty powder coated finish.


Tradies will need to carry their licence

Choosing the right tradespeople when building or renovating is the message of the new consumer awareness campaign launched by the Plumbers, Gasfitters & Drainlayers Board (PGDB) this February.

The PGDB and The Insurance Council NZ warn mistakes are costly and could affect a home’s insurance so consumers should ask for a current NZ Practising Licence. After all, it is illegal in New Zealand to carry out restricted sanitary plumbing, gasfitting or drainlaying work without authorisation from the PGDB.

The PGDB’s Chief Executive, Martin Sawyers, says: “With the new public awareness campaign gaining momentum, now more than ever plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers need to make sure that they hold a current NZ Practising Licence”.

The PGDB also encourages all consumers and tradespeople to download the R.A.C. app (Report-a-Cowboy) and assist in identifying those people who are carrying out restricted work unlawfully and put the public at risk.

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