own national delivery fl eet.

“Five years ago, we commissioned a customer satisfaction survey to fi nd out if we were meeting our retailers’ expectations,” he explains. “And, if not, to help us implement a plan to put that right. “The feedback highlighted the areas our customers

felt we needed to improve as a priority. As a result, rather than continue to operate from several locations in and around our Bath HQ, to streamline the operation and make us even more effi cient we consolidated all of our warehousing and distribution operations into the Portbury site, which we acquired in 2016. “The survey also revealed that our delivery service – through third-party logistics and carrier partners – was effectively our Achilles heel. It wasn’t up to scratch so, we listened to their feedback and, in 2019, we rolled out our own national delivery fl eet. We now have 41 Roper Rhodes vehicles that service around 95% of our customer base.”

Another aspect of the business to which Leather attributes much of the company’s success is new product development across its brand portfolio – Roper Rhodes, R2 and Tavistock. “We are rather obsessed with developing new products,” he confi rms. “It’s at the heart of what we do and drives our success more than anything.” To put this “obsession” with new product development into perspective, every year the company aims for three product launches across four product categories and three brands. “To maintain this level of innovation, our strategy is to have major product launches every year, in every product category across all of our brands,” he explains. “Roper Rhodes is our proprietary brand, but we also have R2 and Tavistock, which combined account for 55% of our revenue.”

“It certainly keeps us busy,” he admits. “But, new product drives our customers sales. We only grow if our customers grow. It’s a bit like a roundabout we can’t and don’t want to get off – you just have to hang on and spin faster to stay ahead.” So, how did that strategy play out last year during the Covid pandemic? “Although the Covid situation impacted our plans last year, we still

MD Leigh Leather (right) with group operations director Will Steele

had two major product launches – in January and October,” he says. “We had to postpone one, which was planned for June, and we still have three launches planned for this year, which we intend to go ahead with. We’ve always taken the long view of these things. While we will be pragmatic, we will continue to invest in areas that drive growth for us and our customers in the long term.”

If you focus on things that improve customer and employee

satisfaction, you will retain and grow customer revenues and retain and attract good employees

FACT FILE: Roper Rhodes

• Established in 1979, Roper Rhodes has been trading as an independent supplier of bathroom products for over 40 years

• The family-owned business is located in Bath and, in 2016, set up a 200,000sq ft distribution centre – including a showroom for its trade partners – in Portbury, Bristol, to increase effi ciency

• Market leader – by value – in bathroom furniture category

• Parent company of Roper Rhodes, R2 and Tavistock brands

• The company has over 4,000 SKUs across its three brands and product categories

• Its products are available through a network of more than 3,000 independent bathroom retailers and merchants throughout the UK

• Introduced its own fl eet of delivery vehicles in 2019 to further support its retail network

Underpinning the fact that he sees it as a key part of the brand’s success story, Leather explains how new product development and telling its product story is a big part of his plans to grow the business and gain further brand recognition moving forward. “We have built a great reputation off the back of our quality and value-for-money bathroom furniture, which is fantastic,” he says. “Retailers come to us for our expertise in that category and we don’t want that to change. However, we also have a strong portfolio of brassware, sanitaryware and mirrored cabinets, and what I want is for Roper Rhodes to be recog nised as a full bathroom solution provider. “If we continue to enjoy similar levels of growth to what we’ve seen in the past 10 years, for the next four to fi ve years, we’ll be heading towards £100 million in rev enues by the end of that timescale. It’s a big if, though, and undoubtedly there will be some challenges in the economy ahead.”

Wall-hung basin unit from the modular Scheme range

January 2021 · 29

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