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SUSTAINABILITY IT TAPPING INTO NEW MARGINS


A simple device fitted to a tap could save householders water, energy and money, whilst making merchants decent profit margins, Fiona Russell Horne takes a look.


D


on’t you just hate it when you turn a tap on and whoosh, gallons of water gushes from the tap and soaks you? It’s irritating and it’s wasteful. Neoperl UK, based in Malvern, believes it has the answers. Part of a global family-owned Swiss German group offering water saving devices, Neoperl specialise in stream & flow control. These are devices that control the flow of water through our household appliances. Made in the UK by Neoperl, they come in hundreds of sizes that can be retro fitted to taps and showers throughout the home. Managing director Kevin Gates says the company predominantly supplies its products to the OEM taps, shower and domestic appliance manufacturers but, in many countries, in particular Switzerland, also has a strong market in the retail/wholesale sector.


“This isn’t something we have in the UK at the moment but we see it as a real opportunity both for us and for the sector itself. By fitting a simple flow regulating device such as a pressure compensating aerator to taps, the amount of water that comes through is reduced,” he explains. “Consumers are getting much more environmentally conscious. Water is a very valuable resources and we use far too much of it in this country. Government has a strategic goal to reduce the average water use in the typical home, from 143 to 110 litres per day, but we need to have a behavioural change in order to make that really effective.” That is where Neoperl products fit in. Gates says they are key in saving water and, in saving water, they also save energy. “The knock-on effect certainly in terms of hot water is that when you reduce the amount of water, you reduce the amount of energy required to heat that water.” Neoperl products are spout end devices primarily in taps and showers. Regardless of the prevalent water pressure, a flow regulator


or PCA maintains a consistent water stream at the chosen flow rate. A typical flow regulator consists of three components, a housing, a seating area and a precision-ring. The flow is determined by the interaction between the seating area and the O-ring. As water flows through the device at a higher or lower pressure, the shape of the O-ring changes to restrict or release the flow of water. “The amount of water delivered generally is overkill. Our products can give householders a specified amount of water from that tap or shower, independent of the water pressure. These simple devices can very easily be retro fitted within minutes; once you’re used to what you’re doing they can take seconds.” That’s where Gates thinks builders’ and plumbers’ merchants can really benefit. “There is increasingly greater awareness by consumers of water as a scarce resource and the need to reduce water use. Plumbers are also starting to get an awareness of that, too, but need an outlet where they can buy the devices. Hence our message to merchants.


from plumbers in our products because they can see the benefits of being able to offer their customers that extra service. Then they have been able to go to their local merchants and ask if the merchants can stock them. Thus far, that’s how it’s been working. But we think that many more merchants could benefit from taking the products into stock in the first place and they will then be able to offer them to their customers.”


“We believe that by fitting these devices to most of the outlets in a standard home, a plumber could save the householder up to 50%, maybe even more, of the water that is used a day without them noticing any difference in water supply,” he says. A standard shower will probably produce between 16 to 18 litres of water a minute, Gates says, adding that an equally comfortable shower is possible from a shower head issuing up to half of that, say, between 9 and 12 litres. “For merchants this is easily something that they could offer as an extra service to their plumber customers. It’s a way of those plumbers extending the service to their householder customers. We’ve been attending the plumbing and heating exhibitions for the last few years and there’s a massive interest


April 2021 www.buildersmerchantsjournal.net


Gates says that the benefit to the merchants is that it allows them to play their part in helping to save the planet whilst at the same time developing add-on sales opportunities at their trade counter. “Climate change and population growth will mean that there is a structural deficit in water resources by 2050. Unless we do something about it,” he says. “ Merchants could play their part in protecting our increasingly scarce resource and by introducing a new product line to their customers that could help plumbers improve their service and will also make merchants some decent percentage margins along the way. We can see the scenario where a plumber is going to a call to, say, service a boiler, they could then say to that customer. “I could save you £XX a year on your water bill by fitting this little widget to your taps that’s only, say, £10.” The householder gets to save water and money, and the plumber and the merchant get to make some reasonable profit margins into the bargain.”


Gates says that, while the company does make a huge range of sizes, most taps nstalled in UK kitchens and bathrooms could be fitted with one of two standard sizes of flow regulator, so merchants wouldn’t need to take lots of different sizes into stock.


“We have simple point of sale options and merchandising units based on the options that we are offering to customers in our European markets, especially,” he says. “The retro-fit market in this country is huge, and we firmly believe that the merchants and their plumber customers are the right way to go about targeting that market. BMJ


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