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In focus… Bolton Bathrooms

Date Added: 03.08.2022

Bolton Bathrooms is a North West-based bathroom designer, supplier and installer. We spoke to owner Paul Goodman about the impact of the pandemic and his plans for the future.

Q. You’ve recently become the owner of Bolton Bathrooms, congrats! How did the opportunity to become the owner come about?
The business has been going for over 40 years, and I’ve owned it for around 12 months now. The previous owner, Gary Wild, mentioned the opportunity to me over dinner and I jumped at the chance.

I wanted to get involved as I could see things that could be improved upon and changed, changes that have been implemented now and have led to growth.

Q. Tell us about your career journey in the bathroom world.
I started in showroom sales about 16 years ago, in a big place, but that was just supply. This position came up, which is more supply and fitting, so I was dealing with installers and learning about the design and the different products. I left Bolton Bathrooms for a while to set up on my own, which went well, but I came back here with a view to buying the business.

Q. What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Coming back to Bolton Bathrooms and increasing the sales. We’ve kept all the same staff, we’re not planning on changing that at all, although we’ve taken on one new person, but the way the showroom and morale have changed has helped move things forward and sales have doubled in 12 months.

Q. We’ve lived with Covid for two years now, how have you seen the industry change and adapt over this period?
One thing we’ve noticed is that, over the Covid period, customers have been a lot more patient. For example, if a job was going to be delayed, people would accept it. However, now we’re coming to the end of it, people are expecting to get things done quickly.

In terms of the business, we shut down over the Covid period, working remotely but still talking to customers, which kept us busy. We also used the time to redevelop the website and we’re getting good results with that.

The showroom displays have also all been changed in this time; we got a lot done in the showroom to get it streamlined and look better over the shutdown. We’re putting the money into Google and Facebook to drive traffic that way and the good thing about those platforms is you can monitor exactly where your money is going and what kind of return you’re getting off it.

Q. What challenges have you dealt with during Covid and what did you learn from them?
What became apparent was that prices were going to go up, so, looking at the items we were selling, we managed to get those on stock deals before the price increases, so that worked in our favour.

There are still occasions where we need to change products for customers to get a job started or finished on time – it’s always good to have a plan B, speak to customers and push them towards an alternative.

To be honest, business has been a lot busier than I anticipated when Covid started and we’ve not seen a drop-off. Like many in the industry, we’ve had cases of people who couldn’t go on holiday, so they spent the money on home improvements instead. That’s still the case, and we’ve just had the busiest January and February we’ve ever had.

Q. Having a strong digital presence is now more important than ever before, does Bolton Bathrooms have plans to enhance their online profile further this year?
We launched our new website in mid-January so we’ve put a lot of new stuff on there, and made customers more aware of prices. With us doing it in-house, we get the analytics straight away, so we can see exactly what needs improving. Also, our website is a little different to other bathroom showrooms as we’re quite happy to mention price.

When it comes to social media, we increased our spend with Facebook and Google when the pandemic started.

Q. How do you feel Ideal Bathrooms have supported you and the businesses you’ve worked in over the years?
Our rep Anthony has always been a star, I’ve known him for 10 years now, and he’s always been very supportive. If we have issues, he’ll always try to get them sorted out and, more importantly, even if he can’t, he’ll let me know as soon as possible.

The team at Ideal are very good are what they do, and hold very good stock. Throughout Covid, when things were delayed, they always kept us informed and they’ve adapted well to the pandemic and the aftermath. In fact, we often find out what’s going on with brands through Ideal first.

Q. What would you say are the ingredients for a successful bathroom retail business?
Customers need to have confidence in you, and they also need enough choice. We’ve got a large showroom with 100-plus displays, so by the time people have walked around, they need to speak to someone. The other key thing is to build partnerships with distributors and manufacturers so you can always be moving and looking forward.

Q. Which bathroom trend do you see making the headlines in 2022?
People are starting to get more colourful, which is reflected in furniture and tile choices. People are finally asking for colour, which is nice: emerald green and blues – light and dark.

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