Traditionally the UK market for bathroom products differed considerably from many European markets. The UK generally operated on low pressure water systems and bathrooms were normally ‘dry’ environments as opposed to ‘wet’ (i.e. tiled floors, walls) and bathing was much more popular in the UK than in Europe. However, with the growth in high pressure water systems, showering and wetroom areas have become more prevalent in UK bathrooms. It is estimated that over 60% of UK homes now have a high-pressure water system (such as a combi boiler) installed. The characteristics of the UK bathroom products market have evolved in recent years due in part to legislation and developments in distribution. The level of imports has increased considerably and as a result, the UK bathroom market is now exposed to product and design trends from a variety of sources, particularly Europe and the Far East. With economic and political uncertainty exacerbated by the UK’s Brexit vote to leave the EU, markets have remained price sensitive. There continues to be high levels of foreign competition and an increasing number of suppliers. These factors contribute to pressures on margins throughout the supply chain and across the industry.
The market for bathroom products experienced good value growth in the period 2014-16. Stability in the UK economy stimulated housebuilding activity and levels of house moving and renovation. There was also a strong performance across a number of commercial end-use sectors, including entertainment, offices, education and health. The UK bathroom market continued to grow steadily in 2017, although at a slower pace than 2016. However, with uncertainty surrounding the Brexit negotiations in 2018, a more modest performance was experienced, with only marginal growth of 2% that year.