Not long after the acquisition, Aqualla’s Sales and Marketing team joined the company’s R&D department for a spot of ‘site’-seeing at Adamsez. Established just nine years earlier, Aqualla had completed what back then would have been inconceivable – the takeover of an iconic bathroom brand dating back to 1880. In fact, you could forgive the need for something tangible just to make it all feel real.
“We took all of their baths down from the shelving, unboxed them and looked at each one of the models,” said Steven Allaway. “We all came away really, really impressed with the product quality and excited by the opportunity. When we started our journey nine-years ago I didn’t think we’d be acquiring such an historic brand. I’ve known Adamsez since I started out in the industry 20-years ago, but never thought I’d get this opportunity.”
Aqualla has undoubtedly come a long way in a short space of time. Built from scratch in 2011, the company now has 28 employees and revenue 25-times greater than year one. Although always forward- thinking, the timing of the Adamsez takeover, slap bang in the middle of a global pandemic, may still have raised a few eyebrows. For most, this was a time to hold what you have, not expand. So why did this merging of old and new happen now?
“Discussions have been going on for about a year or so,” added Steven. “We expected things would get quieter in the run-up to lockdown and during previous discussions we’d identified the things we thought could enhance the brand and add some value going forward. The timing felt right for a number of reasons and we’re really privileged to have the opportunity to steer the Adamsez brand for the foreseeable future.”
In reality, both brands were already pointed in the same direction. “There’s a major customer overlap. I would say 60% of the customers that we trade with between the two companies have both Aqualla and Adamsez accounts. There’s another 40% who are either Aqualla or Adamsez.”
The aim now is to integrate the best of both worlds in a way that ultimately benefits the end-user. That means channelling contemporary ideas about brand development into an established company without losing sight of its brand heritage.
“Some of the things our team has brought to the Aqualla brand, such as fresh eyes from a marketing perspective, we hope to employ with Adamsez. At the same time, we will be respectful and understand the value of the brand, keeping that to the forefront. We believe that a more modern approach to sales, marketing and product thinking will hopefully move the company forward. We’re harnessing the Adamsez brand name.”
All this talk of takeovers and harnessing brands bucks the current trend, with the Covid-19 crisis appearing to dictate a more conservative approach. That’s not how Steven and his management team see it. “Aqualla was born out of the last recession. If that hadn’t happened in 2008/9 I don’t think we’d be here. We’re taking the same approach now in the current circumstances, viewing it as an opportunity. I was in the industry during the last recession and the companies that thrived were the ones who innovated and invested rather than battened down the hatches and tried to protect what they had.”
With that in mind, Aqualla plans to invest £1m into its recent acquisition over the next 12-months. Utilising their marketing suite, there will be a new Adamsez brochure boasting fresh ideas, a revamped layout and contemporary lifestyle photography. A new website will be launched, offering technical and support data alongside inventory. And there will also be new products added to the Adamsez portfolio that have been in development over the past few months. Late October, early November is the timeframe.
“Adamsez has a great history with a skilled and knowledgeable workforce,” said Aqualla’s Sale Director, Noel Daly. “Adamsez brings a fantastic complimentary product offering to the existing Aqualla portfolio, and we aim to breathe new life into this historic brand by investing in its products and service.”
‘Superb brand meets superb brand’ was just one of many positive industry reactions to Aqualla’s acquisition of Adamsez. It’s a response that Steven appreciates. “It’s reassuring to know that we’ve been doing the right things over the last eight or nine years in terms of customer service, supporting the people who are supporting us. If we can now transfer some of the things that made us successful into an iconic brand like Adamsez it would make us all very proud.”
Despite uncertainty about what the future holds, Aqualla is confident their model of investment and innovation is the way forward. “The market is now a fashion industry and trends are changing all the time. It’s important to keep up with them and that’s something I think Adamsez has done well. They have some fantastic products that they maybe haven’t been shouting loud enough about.”
So what is Steven’s assessment of the current situation, and how prepared is Aqualla for what lies ahead? “There’s a bit of a gold rush at the minute, but that is because of the lockdown and will subside at some point. When and by how much is the big question. If it does turn into a more difficult time we’re prepared and ready to deal with it. We’re already working on several different strategies that will open up new revenue streams without impacting our ability to gain market share. We’ve built up a solid foundation in all aspects of our business that will allow us to invest now with confidence, regardless of how things develop over the next six to 12-months.” Aqualla has just appointed three new Regional Sales Managers, more than doubling the UK team. The blueprint for growth remains unchanged, with plans also including the launch of a re-branded, revitalised Adamsez across the Irish Sea.
However, that’s for another day. Focus now is firmly fixed on galvanising a great brand on the island of Ireland. “The Adamsez acquisition feels like we’re starting a business all over again,” Steven explained. “The team of people we’ve assembled at Aqualla, right throughout the business, are passionate about what we’re doing and they share in the excitement this opportunity with Adamsez brings. There’s a real positivity about the place at the minute.” No wonder there’s an air of positivity. Aqualla has just recorded its busiest two weeks…ever! We’d say that’s a pretty decent start to this new alliance with old.