When you are involved in a marketplace that is as competitive as the bathroom sector, you need something that makes your company distinctive. For Aqualla, the bathroom brassware, and now glassware specialists, that something different is a focus on five distinctive components that combine to offer a complete overall package.
Since the Newtownards- based company that operates across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was established in 2012 it has worked hard to create a company that is unique, with quality products and service, delivering local expertise along with the standards you’d expect from a national manufacturer. Aqualla’s product range has grown at a steady rate and currently focuses on taps, showers, towel warmers, mirrors and associated accessories, but, as Steven Allaway, Director, explains, product quality is not the only important element.
“There are other companies that do what we do and we are operating in a very competitive marketplace. We always knew that we had to create something different if we were to stand out.
“For some the focus is on price, others look for service while niche products are another important factor in some areas. We have tried to blend these elements together and ensure that price, customer service, product quality, stock levels and marketing are treated equally.” It is a philosophy that clearly works. In the six years since the company was formed, Aqualla has grown at a strong and steady rate, selling almost 300,000 products. Yet the team doesn’t only analyse gures – the company takes its reputation seriously.
“Everyone says Aqualla go the extra mile but we genuinely do,” said Noel Daly, Sales Director. “We see it as simply part of the service that we offer and we feel it all links into the various aspects of how we progress as a company.”
That progress is demonstrated on Aqualla’s growing product portfolio which again reflects the company’s focus on uniqueness. The development of Aromawell is a prime example. This specially crafted well within the radiator holds aromatherapy oil and gently releases the scent when the heating is on to provide a luxurious addition to any bathroom.
Earlier this year four new categories of towel rails were successfully launched, with models introduced that are suitable for areas outside the bathroom, such as kitchens, living rooms and conservatories. A new and wide range of mirrors has also been introduced this year and been well received within the marketplace.
“We are set to introduce a number of new products later this year and we are excited about these new developments,” added Steven. “Plans are also in place to open a training facility that will provide in-depth training on our products, so we have a lot to look forward to.”
Passion, drive and a commitment to customers permeates every level of Aqualla. The levels of customer service and attention to detail belies the size of the company and it is the determination of staff to deliver the highest levels of service that has made Aqualla such a success. Promises such as free next-day delivery anywhere in the island of Ireland are met (as long as orders are received before 3.30pm). Aqualla also ensures that 98% of the products it offers are in stock at any given time, with the other 2% available within a matter of weeks.
“There are lots of clichés about going the extra mile and offer a great service, but we are serious about building strong relationships with our customers,” explained Stuart Latimer, Area Sales Manager. Patrick Murray, Merchandiser, added, “We see problems as an opportunity to impress and prove what we can do. We had an incident recently of a customer with arthritis who was having problems turning the controls on his shower and very quickly we had found a solution and reconfigured it for him. It was a challenge, but for us customer satisfaction is everything.”
The fact that everyone within the company is pulling in the same direction is evident, as is the fact that there is a high level of trust amongst the team.
Jade King, Office Administrator, explained, “I am the first port of call for many of our customers and we pride ourselves on the fact that they know they don’t have to call back a second or third time to see if what they need has been ordered or if their query has been dealt with. We are here to help and we want to make life as simple as possible for our customers and, in turn, their customers.”
Whether it is dealing with a phone enquiry or packaging a product, the attention-to-detail is of the highest standards and the same is clear when the team plans for the future. Aqualla has moved premises four times in six years and currently occupies a 21,000sqft facility. Yet each decision to upgrade was based on the simple principle of improving customer service. The same is the case as Aqualla explores new markets.
“We are breaking ground in Scotland and England which is proving to be a success,” said Steven Allaway, Director. “Our first priority will always be on Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but we feel that, in time, we can mirror the success we have enjoyed here across the water.” The same approach is taken to product development. In-depth market research can take over two years, with the input of customers taken very seriously.
Noel Daly, Sales Director, added, “There is no better feeling than bringing a new product into a customer and pointing out how we had taken their views into consideration. We listen to what they tell us and collaborate with our customers to bring better products to the market.
“Our relationship with customers is essential to our ability to move forward and develop. They are part of our success story and we know they share in our sense of pride when we launch new products or look after one of their customers.”