Villeroy & Boch’s head of product management taps Mohamed Elabssawy tells Nicola Hanley why now was the right time to launch its bathroom tap fittings into the UK.
In September 2022, Villeroy & Boch announced the end of its longstanding partnership with fellow German manufacturer Dornbracht. For 20 years, the luxury brassware brand had produced and distributed Villeroy & Boch bathroom taps and fittings under license within central Europe, including in the UK.
It was, says Mohamed Elabssawy, Villeroy & Boch’s head of product management taps, a very successful partnership. However, it didn’t stop some customers from requesting access to Villeroy & Boch’s own range of taps and fittings, which were available outside of the core European markets, such as China and the Gulf region.
“The demand has always been there for our own taps and fittings,” says Elabssawy. “So once we agreed on different strategic directions and our successful 20-year partnership with Dornbracht came to an end, it was the right time for us to come into the market."
The launch consisted of 11 tap collections, along with universal showering and accessories, designed, engineered and tested in Germany and Sweden. They cover a variety of price points from the entry-level O.novo Start to the premium Mettlach, which Villeroy & Boch describes as ‘the epitome of elegance and luxury’.
So what makes Villeroy & Boch’s brassware different from its competitors? “We’re offering the customer design and functionality in harmony,” says Elabssawy. “Design harmony with the ceramics, furniture and the tap coming from a single designer and design line, which spares the end consumer a lot of thinking. And there’s also the brand equity of the name Villeroy & Boch. We have a long history within the bathroom industry and are bringing the taps as a full complement to our existing offer.
“And on the other side, we care about every detail that goes into our taps – the components, materials, tests and certificates needed for the markets. So our taps are taking every detail within the development into consideration in order to meet the sweet spot for harmony for the end consumer within the full bathroom offering.”
The UK launch has so far exceeded Villeroy & Boch’s expectations, says Elabssawy. “The UK is doing really well and the launch has gone better than we anticipated.”
Like a proud parent, Elabssawy won’t say if he has a favourite among the tap collections. “I would be very biased to answer that,” he laughs. “But the beautiful part within our journey of the taps’ development is that every tap is telling a different story. And everyone has their own taste, which makes it really difficult to say ‘this is the one for me’. We try to provide uniqueness internally and it’s always a challenge but it’s fun.”
As well as Chrome, which remains the most popular finish, the taps come in Matt Black, Brushed Nickel and Brushed Gold. “Colours are building momentum. Different markets have different preferences on the colours but the highest trend across the board is Matt Black,” says Elabssawy.
With rising utility bills and environmental concerns growing among consumers, Villeroy & Boch’s new taps and showers feature water-saving technology such as AquaSmart, which limits basin taps to a maximum of five litres a minute and AirPlus, where less water is used by mixing it with air. “We are working to give more eco functionality,” says Elabssawy. “But we have to get the balance right. For consumers, we can’t forget the experience and making sure they have that nice experience within the bathroom.”
Later this year Villeroy & Boch plans to open a London showroom within the Business Design Centre in Islington where it will showcase the new tap ranges alongside other bathroom products. And what else is next? “New showering extensions are coming next year,” says Elabssawy. “We’ve started some teasers in China and they will be coming in the next year to European markets.”