As Rothley launches a new collection of grab rails in on-trend finishes, MD Stuart Hobbs reveals why accessible bathroom design is undergoing a style revolution, and how up until now, manufacturers have been slow to move with the times.
Q: Tell us about the new collection – what does it consist of?
A: The Rothley Grab Rail range is a collection of stylish and practical grab rails that offer assistance to those who require a bit of extra help getting around safely and with ease. Until now, people with mobility issues who want to remain in their homes have had to put up with bland plastic handles if they need assistance.
We at Rothley are strong believers that the practical can also be stylish – so that’s why our insight & innovation team developed a colour range for our grab rails, based on trending interior finishes such as Antique Brass, Antique Copper, Matt Black, Matt White, Polished Copper and Pewter. These finishes are in keeping with our other new ranges to enable individuals to create their own 'capsule collection' of decorative home accessories that can easily reflect the homeowner's design flair and style.
The rails come in different sizes that can offer assistance around the entire home, and also outdoors. We're also proud to be continuing Rothley’s commitment to a sustainable and ethical process of manufacturing and production without compromising on quality or style by making the rails completely chrome-free.
Q: Why have you launched it now?
A: The assisted living sector has been devoid of design improvements and flare for far too long! Consumers shouldn’t have to compromise on style in order to get around their own home safely and with ease, after spending years building their own personal sanctuary.
We believe fashion and function can co-exist and everyone is entitled to a beautiful home, and we want to help deliver that. We're proud to be one of the few manufacturers offering people who require a little extra assistance the opportunity to maintain their style.
Q: Why do you think that accessible design up until now has been neglected in the bathroom sector?
A: Products that offer assistance to individuals with mobility issues can come with a certain sensitive symbolism that should be carefully addressed by any manufacturer. Grab rails are increasingly seen as objects to be quietly hidden away, out of view. As trends have changed, these dated items, aimed at blending in have actually started to stand out negatively, as they no longer match any other finishes around people’s homes. With this range we wanted to change this and address a lack of inclusivity and creativity in this sector.
We believe the demand for fashionable assisted living accessories has been there for years but the ironmongery industry can be a little slow to move with the times and many manufacturers are not sure how to do that. At Rothley, we make sure we’re keeping a close eye on consumer trends and people’s needs, through our own data, but also insight from our many partners.
Q: Is this changing now?
A: Colour is becoming king in the interiors world – whether a bold colour scheme is spiced up by copper or a minimalistic scheme is enhanced by matt black, consumers don’t just want the dated steel and silver options for their home accessories.
With the rise in popularity of coloured and matt black finishes, people who require additional assistance around the home are looking for stylish products just like everyone else, so the demand is definitely there. Manufacturers should take this as inspiration to step up their game – and we’re happy to take the lead.
Q: What opportunities does the new Rothley collection offer bathroom retailers and designers?
A: It opens up a whole new market of people looking for stylish and practical home accessories. With the wide range of finishes, the Rothley Grab Rail range allows retailers to display finished bathroom looks in their showrooms, inspiring consumers to bring it home. This is also opening doors to interior designers, as the new products allow them to curate modern, trending looks which ultimately serve consumers’ needs.
Q: What support does Rothley offer retailers?
A: We see our retail partners as an extension of our team, and always look for ways to help them best serve their customers. Research carried out in the spring clearly demonstrates the intent to spend on interiors is still out there. Just under half of the population have savings from the pandemic years, with the average amount of money banked being close to £4,000.
Rothley offers bespoke stands according to a store’s needs, and our merchandise specialists visit regularly to ensure stands and displays are up to standard. Our merchandise specialists can help store managers display products in the best way to drive efficient purchase, for example, selling complementary products in one space and encouraging a flow to the consumer journey through carefully curated content.
Something worth adding is the way we design our stands. Our merchandising and marketing teams address consumer habits and align them with our merchants chosen product offering, spending time planogramming and researching sales data. One of our most popular results is a stand that allows the consumer to utilise one core product – our 25mm tube for instance – and create several different options with it due to fittings, finials and accessories all being included. No need to list additional SKUs as the existing ones can be used in different ways.