Interview: Kast MD David Knight on plans after Kohler's acquisition

InterviewFeatures Fri 14th Jun 2024 by Amelia Thorpe

Interview: Kast MD David Knight on plans after Kohler's acquisition

Interview: Kast MD David Knight on plans after Kohler's acquisition

Feature by Amelia Thorpe | Fri 14th Jun 2024

Amelia is an award-winning journalist, specialising in kitchens, bathrooms, interiors and design. She has contributed to many leading national publications, and has written about the kitchen and bathroom business for more than 15 years. More

New MD of Kast, David Knight, tells Amelia Thorpe about growth plans for the concrete basin brand following its acquisition by Kohler last year.

Just weeks in from his new appointment as MD of Nottinghamshire-based concrete basin specialist Kast, David Knight says he is relishing the challenges ahead. With a background in kitchen appliances, most recently as UK MD of V-Zug, where he worked for 4 years to establish the brand as a UK entity, he says: "Bathrooms are a different world, but learning new skills and new industries enthuses me – and gets me out of bed in the morning."

Last year, American bathroom giant Kohler acquired Kast, founded by Tim Bayes in 2011. "When you’ve got a company like Kohler buying a little company like Kast and wanting to do something amazing with it in its luxury brands portfolio, it’s a hugely exciting opportunity," continues Knight, 55.

Wave collection Tilde basin in Brick

Kohler has also recently acquired sauna brand KLAFS, which, together with Kast and Kohler’s existing brands Robern (lighting, cabinets and vanities), Ann Sacks (tile and stone) and Kallista (taps and fixtures), make up a portfolio aimed at the luxury wellness market. "The Kohler business is huge, so this allows the group to grow into a new segment – and give a different dynamic to the business in terms of where it sits," explains Knight.

The Holm collection of designs blend terrazzo and concrete

In the UK, Kohler is focused on the A+D community, maintaining its smart showroom in the heart of London Clerkenwell’s design district, with displays of Kast basins firmly in position by Clerkenwell Design Week in May. "Kast has done some project work in the past, but this allows us to develop our A+D business," says Knight.

Kast’s display at Salone del Mobile in Milan in April

Kast’s annual turnover is currently around £3million. "The ambition for the business is to more than double that in the next 5 years," he says. "The investment from Kohler is significant to deliver long-term, sustainable growth." In the UK, products are currently sold through some 80 retailers, and Knight says there will be more support and training available to them – thanks, in part, to the appointment in January of 7 new members of staff, including 2 in-house UK sales people.

Aura double basin in Blue

There is also a new recruit in America, where the product will now be sold through the Ann Sacks network. "Ann Sacks is very well established and strong in New York and California, our two initial targets in the country," he says. (Previously sold through an US agent, Kast is currently evaluating its existing 70 partners in the country.) "And we’ll be looking at China next year," he adds.

Oska countertop basin in Wheat

"One of the things that has really been positive about Kohler’s acquisition of Kast is trade show engagement," he says. Products were shown at KBIS in Las Vegas in February and at Salone del Mobile in Milan in April. "We even had an article in the New York Times and received the strongest coverage in the Kohler group, which was phenomenal," he says. Following its outing at Clerkenwell Design Week, we can also expect a presence at Decorex in October.

Every Kast basin is made using traditional aggregate-based concrete, sourced from local Derbyshire limestone suppliers, mixed with sands and pigments, resulting in the palette of 28 colours

While the product range is currently focused on concrete basins, Knight says they are currently looking at other complementary bathroom categories, such as taps and showers. (Design development is spearheaded by Tim Bayes, who has moved to the role of ‘founder’, and Kast’s creative director Amy Bartlett.) "We are currently working on a dull brass finish, and in styles which fit beautifully with the design of the basins," says Knight. "We are also looking at what else we can do in the basin segment, because at the moment ours are quite UK-European-centric, while America likes bigger basins, and there are opportunities in where you could use them, such as mud rooms, then we’ll look at more ideas in wellness, outdoor, kitchen categories." The focus, he says, will remain concrete. "That is the core of the brand."

Tags: interview, features, kast, david knight, kohler

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