Interview: Hayley Bowman on Frontline Bathrooms' big 2024 comeback

InterviewFeatures Wed 17th Apr 2024 by Nicola Hanley

Interview: Hayley Bowman on Frontline Bathrooms' big 2024 comeback

Interview: Hayley Bowman on Frontline Bathrooms' big 2024 comeback

Feature by Nicola Hanley | Wed 17th Apr 2024

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 unveiling a host of new products at KBB Birmingham, Frontline Bathrooms' marketing manager Hayley Bowman tells Nicola Hanley what else the company has in store. 

For some, stepping back can be the best way to move forward and that certainly seems to have been the case for Frontline Bathrooms. After the pandemic took hold, the company, which will be celebrating 35 years of bathroom distribution next year, made the strategic decision to batten down the hatches and evaluate its service offering. “Post Covid, a lot of people might have seen Frontline retreating,” says marketing manager Hayley Bowman. “We were not out in the industry at all the events quite as much but that’s because we turned or attention inwards and put so much time and effort into our service levels.”

Newly available in an oak finish, the Kyoto furniture range has a textured fluted finish and is ideal for Japandi-style bathrooms

A lot of time was also devoted to product innovation and NPD, says Bowman, who has been with the company, which is based in Featherstone in West Yorkshire, for nearly 12 years. And the results were evident at KBB Birmingham, where Frontline Bathrooms unveiled a raft of new products on the stand it shared with wall panelling manufacturer Showerwall. All were featured in its new 2024 brochure, which was launched at the show, with highlights including a new oak finish for its fluted Kyoto furniture range and Isobel, a new furniture collection joining its traditional Holborn brand.

Seen here in brushed brass, the Otto towel rail is designed to be practical and stylish

Bowman describes Frontline Bathrooms as having a predominantly contemporary offering through its Aqua brands but says it is in the process of expanding its Holborn range. As well as its own brands, it also distributes products from the likes of Merlyn, April, Grohe, Hudson Reed, Ideal Standard, RAK and HSK from its purpose-built 85,000sq ft distribution centre. 

“KBB Birmingham is always a really great launchpad for new products,” she says. “Being own brand, we don’t have a show van or massive showroom facilities that many manufacturers do. So we see KBB Birmingham as a really great opportunity for us to showcase what we do and get in touch with our existing customers while opening doors to new customers.

The Siena bath combines the space-saving benefits of a back-to-wall tub with the beauty of a freestanding model

“The bathroom distribution market has so many different options and we’ve never had as many competitors as we have at the moment. Everyone has similar products and prices and I think KBB Birmingham will bring some customers, that might have been tempted off by various factors such as price or product availability, back into the Frontline fold.”

As part of its commitment to service, customers can order products up to 5pm for next-day delivery and a new website, which will have a new look and feel, is set to launch on 1st May. “We’ve done a lot of customer research and we’ve listened to what customers want and need from a distributor and we have plans in place to work through those with our website. It’s a never-ending project that will come in phases.”

The new Holborn Isobel vanity unit features traditional shaker detailing and a hand-painted finish

Bowman says that historically Frontline hasn’t been the most tech-savvy in terms of digital ordering, but that will all change towards the end of the year as the website is developed further. “It’ll mean we’re on hand for customers 24/7 whereas at the moment it’s between 7.30 in the morning and 5pm so it’ll open up some new doors,” she says.

Frontline will also launch on ArtiCAD in May with the complete product library from its Aqua brochure. “That will be another big opportunity for us and it’ll make life so much easier for our retailers.”

The Liora mirror is finished in brushed brass

The summer, says Bowman, will be spent educating customers on its new software and website and more new products will be introduced in time for the September launch of its Autumn/Winter brochure. “That will be a really nice end to the year and I feel we’ll have brought a lot to the market in 2024. We’ve spent so much time working on the internal mechanisms of the business over the past three years so it’s nice that in 2024 we can come back out with a bang and make sure we’re giving everything to consumers and retailers,” says Bowman.

The Econic vanity unit was on show on the stand Frontline Bathrooms shared with Showerwall at KBB Birmingham

Tags: interview, features, hayley bowman, frontline bathrooms, bathrooms

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