Mark Hill on… Joining Kudos

growth based on its

Kudos has massive potential to achieve quality

of product and

customer service. That, coupled with the enthusiasm and pride of the main board and, of course, the great location, was irresistible.

Strategy Previously, we had two trade manufacturing

sites – one here and one in Coleraine. We’ve moved all that over to Coleraine and now have a warehouse for fi nished goods over here. It increases our capacity and fl exibility.

Investment It’s managing your working capital, your

supply chain, your procurement activities. Any improvement in that area generates cash and we’re investing in the business. But the biggest investment has been in the people – some new to the industry and some not.


listening to our customers. It’s not just Nick and Bruce saying we need to design this and that.” As we tour the factory, the improvements are immediately obvious. Booth points to the revamped Ultimate 2 line: “About 55% of our business comes from this line,” he reveals. “We can now get 1,400 units out a week just from these two cells. It’s all about the fl ow, we’ll get it as tight as we can. The effi ciencies make a massive difference. The fi rst thing I wanted to change was the cell operation. What this place allows us to do is store by size and range and it makes it so much easier.” Graville explains more about how Kudos is changing its business culture and processes. “One of the key ones is ‘eight wastes’, he says – the eight wastes of lean manufacturing: defects, excess processing, overproduction, waiting, inventory, moving, motion and non-utilised talent.”

Five steps Reminders are listed on noticeboards around the factory. “It can be applied across the whole business, even the banks use it,” Graville says. “This has all come in since we arrived.” Another new working principle for Kudos is ‘5S’ – an

organisational and housekeeping methodology that refers to fi ve key steps – sort, set in order, shine, standardise and sustain. Shower enclosures remains a crowded market, of course, and one brand’s products can look similar to another’s. But Booth estimates Kudos is putting out 3,000 units on a weekly basis, not necessarily just enclosures – a fi gure that spikes in November, always “a great sales month”. But what about the wet room side? Is there still growth there? “Yes, our wet room range, the Ultimate, continues to grow,”

says Graville. “It’s the biggest selling line. But we also have the Pinnacle range, which is going from strength to strength and we’re going to expand that midway through this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it catches Ultimate – it fi ts so easily.” And in what some might regard as an overcrowded marketplace, is there a risk of Kudos being squeezed from both the bottom and the top? “Merlyn in terms of volume are the number one,” Graville admits. “They’re owned by a very big business in Norcros and yes, they span right the way through from entry to the top. They’re a big player. Matki are very specialist and proud of what they deliver at the top, but I wouldn’t say we’re squeezed by that. “We’re very proud of where we sit in the marketplace and

we’re going to expand what we do with the customer base we have and the ranges we offer.”

kbbr 42

Those retailers that sell the product do it because they like it and the support that we give them. We want to reward that and we haven’t perhaps done as much as others over the past couple of years, but that’s what we’ll see changing

Nick Graville, sales and marketing director, Kudos

1. Aqua4ma wet-room system 2. Connect 2 tray with Kamba anti-slip coating


Rivals We’ve not looked at other suppliers. We’ve got enough experience to know what we’re doing and that’s what we’re more interested in.

Products Our focus is shower enclosures, but there’s

a massive potential for trays. It’s about 90:10 enclosures to trays.

Customer base We’re a very heavily showroom-oriented

brand. We do trade with some merchants and the new specifi cation market is a good opportunity for us. We also do some work in hotel developments and we’re looking to grow there as well. We’ve got a very strong customer base and route to market through our core distributors. So we’re not necessarily looking to open hundreds of new accounts. The specifi cation market can be a slow burner, but we see big potential.

Distribution A bit is direct, predominantly the merchants,

but most of our showroom business is through distribution: Barwick, Claygate, Formula Bath- rooms and Dell Factor. The key for us is the next-day service. It’s very diffi cult for us to offer that. These independent showrooms want to get everything all in one go. They have small showrooms, with not much storage space, so distribution has absolutely got a place.

The internet You’d be silly to ignore it. A lot of retailers

have an internet channel, but we’re not going to set up a website and start selling online and compete with Amazon. It’s a channel that we take very seriously, but the product has got to be sold in the right way. We know where the end sale is. We can review it, analyse it and control it.

Selling online

In our lives generally it will grow, but it might grow more at the entry level. If you’re really going to invest in a high-end shower enclosure, you might do some research online but you want to touch and feel it. It’s a tough industry to be selling online. You have to store everything, it’s next-day delivery, it’s deliver anywhere, there’s a lot of returns and there’s a lot of successful companies already doing it.

kbbreview · June 2019

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