Interview: BC Designs’ Darren Allison on moving into new markets

InterviewFeatures Wed 21st Sep 2022 by Nicola Hanley

Interview: BC Designs’ Darren Allison on moving into new markets

Interview: BC Designs’ Darren Allison on moving into new markets

Feature by Nicola Hanley | Wed 21st Sep 2022

Nicola is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about interiors for 15 years. A former editor of Essential Kitchen & Bathroom Business magazine, she has also worked in PR and is now a freelance writer specialising in kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms. More

Fresh from launching its first sanitaryware and furniture collections, BC Designs MD Darren Allison tells Nicola Hanley how the bathroom manufacturer is daring to be different

It’s been a busy year for Colchester-based bathroom manufacturer BC Designs. As well as adding a variety of new freestanding baths to its extensive portfolio, the brand has branched out into not one, but two new categories with the launch of its first sanitaryware and furniture collections. And it’s just the start, according to MD Darren Allison, who says the order book is full and business has never been better. 

“We’ve seen phenomenal growth in the last two years. I joined in July 2017 and since then we’re 12 times the size of what BC was.”

This copper boat bath has a striking blue Patinata-effect finish and comes in two sizes

Founded in 1999 by Barrie Cutchie, BC Designs became part of the Roxor Group in 2017, the same year it launched its Bayswater brand. “Roxor will probably hit £100m turnover this year,” says Allison. “Roxor has given us the financial security that’s craved after and having them behind me has been a tremendous help.”

So what prompted BC Designs to make the move into furniture and sanitaryware? “Barrie [Cutchie] and I went round all the top showrooms in London and we asked where there was a need in the traditional market. And they said ‘we need a transitional range’. There are plenty of products in the middle of the market, but when you jump to the top of the market, the product is too expensive for what the customer is now willing to pay,” explains Allison. “We actually entered into a £100,000 investment just before we went into lockdown. We had 18 months where all the tools were ready, but we couldn’t do anything.” 

With a contemporary matt black stand, BC Designs’ Essex bath measures 1510mm long and comes in nine colours, including this Khaki Green

Allison describes the new ranges as Neoclassical and says there’s nothing else like them in the market. The ceramic is made in the Middle East and furniture in Ireland. “It has been fantastically received. We did get a few questions about why we have Victrion furniture when we’ve got Bayswater. But this is foil-wrapped and Bayswater furniture is painted and it’s made in Ukraine and we were very concerned at that time because of what was happening in Ukraine. So we approached an Irish manufacturer.”

BC Designs’ newly launched Victrion collection of sanitaryware is designed to complement classical and transitional bathrooms

As well as using a factory in Ukraine, BC Designs also sources some raw materials from Russia, so the war has certainly put some pressures on the business. “But I’m delighted to say the Ukrainian factory is running at 100%, which is amazing.” Talking to the team in Ukraine brings home the horrors of war, and Allison says at times he’s physically upset after putting the phone down. “Some people have pulled out of Ukraine but the last thing I’d do is stop dealing with Ukraine and I’ve actually gone the other way and given them a new product range.” 

Basins from the new Victrion collection can be used on a basin stand, pictured, or a matching pedestal

A new deal will see Smiths Briten join Ideal Bathrooms to become joint distributor of BC Designs’ Bayswater brand by the end of 2022, and this will boost production in Ukraine even further. “I think it’s very important to remain loyal, particularly when times are hard,” says Allison. “Loyalty will stick through any pandemic, any world war and is so important all the way through the supply chain, from the retailer, manufacturer and distributor. Loyalty is what will help you succeed.”

From BC Designs’ Victrion Furniture collection, launched earlier this year, the 600mm cabinets are pictured in Dark Lead

Next up will be a modern range for BC Designs. “We’ll have shower enclosures, brassware, ceramic, furniture – it’ll be everything. We want to create everything for the bathroom. But we don’t want to stop there. We’re also working on home furnishings.” Lighting, tiles and even wallpaper might follow, says Allison. “The world’s our oyster and because of the financial backing that we’ve got, I don’t see any barriers. It’s just about making sure we take the right path. This is my final swan song and I want to create something that is a legacy for BC Designs.”

The Victrion 750mm cabinet in Nimbus White, with white marble basin and Victrion Crosshead 3 Hole Basin Mixer in brushed gold

Tags: interview, features, bc designs, darren allison, bathrooms

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