Roper Rhodes | BATHROOM MANUFACTURER PROFILE ‘My biggest challenge is

the momentum of our success’


Rebecca Nottingham talks to well-known industry figure Leigh Leather about his new role as MD of Bath-based bathroom brand, Roper Rhodes, his strategy for the business moving forward and the challenges facing the industry


ome might say that taking on the role of managing director during a global pandemic could be the biggest

challenge of their career, but that’s not quite how Leigh Leather viewed the timing of his promotion at Roper Rhodes in September last year.

“I’m not playing down the challenges or implications of the Covid-19 pandemic in any way,” Leather explains. “But, in the context of my new role as managing director of Roper Rhodes, for me the biggest challenge by far – at least in the short-term – is making sure that I maintain the momentum of success we’ve experienced for over 40 years. “After almost eight years as group sales director,

it’s an honour to take on the role, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that for, the first time in my career, I feel the weight and responsibility of maintaining the values and ethics of the company are much more important than making a mark.

“Frankly if no one notices me or any changes I make then I am probably doing OK.” That’s quite a rare admission by someone taking over such a prominent role at an established bathroom brand like Roper Rhodes but, as he explains, it has nothing to do with his lack of enthusiasm or ambition and everything to do with the fact that he is the first non-family member ever to take control of the business. “In many corporations, new managing directors come and go pretty quickly, and they often all feel a corporate or professional obligation to make their mark on a company,” he says. “That’s not a criticism but just the way and expectations of corporate life. Our company was founded over 40 years ago and, until my appointment, a member of the Roper family has always been at the helm. “I’m really lucky to be taking over

a very successful, well run, and well invested company with great employees, so my main concern and focus is not to mess things up.” To put the company’s ‘success’ into context, Leather explains that Roper Rhodes has grown steadily over the majority of the past 40 years. Even more significantly perhaps

– considering January 2021 · Leather himself has been with the business

Roper Rhodes Hampton basin unit in Derwent blue finish

For the first time in my career I feel the weight and responsibility of maintaining the values and ethics of the company are much more important than making a mark

for almost eight of them – is the fact that, according to him, the company has achieved high single, or double-digit, growth over the past 10 years – with, understandably, the exception of 2020. “We were on track for double-digit growth last year too,” he explains. “But like everyone else in the industry, our progress fell back a little due to the first Covid lockdown.” With his passion and enthusiasm for the company, you’d be forgiven for thinking he

might actually be a

member of the Roper family himself. Aside from that, and the fact that, as group sales director, he worked for eight

years alongside predecessor Paul Roper – who stood down as MD in September to dedicate his time to the Roper Family Charitable Trust – a quick glance at Leather’s impressive industry CV reveals why he’s the ideal candidate. In his 27-year career in the bathroom industry, he has held key management roles at Mira, Grohe and Kohler – some of the biggest names in the business. So, working

alongside chairman Mark Roper,

what’s his strategy to ensure the business operates as successfully as it has for the past 40 years under his watch? “In my view, business is quite simple,” he explains. “If you focus on things that improve customer and employee satisfaction, you will retain and grow customer revenues and retain and attract good employees. “We’ve never had an ambitious

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