Nicola Lewis, Marketing Manager from Fibo, speaks to PBM about the ways in which the company’s waterproof panels are said to offer a “true alternative to tiling kitchens and bathrooms” in addition to explaining the support it offers its merchant partners in a shifting landscape.
Q: Can you start by providing us a quick introduction to Fibo and its wall panels?
A: Fibo started out in 1952 in a small factory in Norway, and since then, the company has grown to an award-winning operation that produces panels for over 100,000 bathrooms a year.
Our wall panels are a robust, waterproof solution that replaces the need for tiles and are incredibly simple to install. Using our Aqualock ‘click-lock system’ and a powerful sealant, the wall panels can withstand both direct water spray and temperature fluctuations, making them ideal for bathroom and kitchen installations.
The wall panels can be fixed to almost any surface without the need for preparation — including over existing tiles. And with absolutely no grout to install, they are much easier to maintain and clean post installation.
Manufactured with a specially developed high quality 9mm seven-layer WBP Plywood core with a balancer laminate on the reverse and a decorative, high pressure surface, our wall panels are a true alternative to tiles that can meet every project, budget and sector. This ranges from private residential use to modular build, social housing, education and leisure.
Q: Just how waterproof are the panels?
A: Fibo wall panels have been tried and tested for almost 70 years to ensure that when our products are correctly installed with an appropriate sealant, they are 100% watertight with absolutely no water ingress throughout the system.
Our panels were first introduced in the Scandinavian market, which has extremely high standards and regulations for waterproof, wet room products. Fibo is committed to consistent investment into research and development to ensure the quality and reliability of its products.
Thanks to this dedication, we have been able to extend our product warranty to a market-leading 25-year guarantee that certifies our wall panel and kitchen splashback products will not delaminate, stain, crack or fade, and will remain totally watertight once correctly installed.
This really demonstrates our commitment to providing a quality product — and it means our merchant partners and their customers are afforded complete peace of mind in the purchase, as well as a unique selling point.
Q: Overall, in what ways do you support your merchant partners — especially with the industry seeing such huge changes over the last year?
A: We pride ourselves on receiving excellent feedback from our merchant and showroom partners — not only on the excellent quality of the products and the feedback they’ve had from customers, but also on the support we offer. For example, we provide full product training so that branch staff are confident in selling Fibo products to customers, explaining how the product works, and ultimately, making the sales process smoother for them.
Furthermore, Fibo offers tailored support for branches with initiatives and materials such as point of sale, literature, display stands and product samples.
Obviously, the past year has had a significant impact on the merchant sector, as it has across the board. However, we’re pleased to say merchants are re-emerging from a very difficult environment, with them adapting fast and hard to the current market. We are committed to continue this support and help bring business to the sector.
As the lockdown restrictions evolve, we are adapting our processes so that we keep communication open and continue support. Our sales representatives are making use of video chat and also, where appropriate and necessary, visiting merchants in line with social distancing and government guidelines.
Our partnerships are really important to us as a business. The merchant and showroom environments are the perfect way to demonstrate the quality of our products. After all, seeing is believing.
Q: What current market trends are influencing your product mix?
A: We are the only manufacturer in Europe with the technology to router in groutlines — so it really gives merchants the opportunity to provide a product that completely mimics the look and feel of tiles, right down to the 3D grooves of a ‘fake’ tile line instead of simply printing it on.
Our wall panels that feature this design continue to be a popular choice and we have recently launched a new range to accommodate customer demand for the ever-popular ‘metro brick style’ interior.
The Metro Brick range, as part of the Urban Collection, uses this routered manufacturing technique to create the appearance of the staggered 30x10cm brickwork associated with the metro style. We’ll be launching more designs within this collection throughout 2021, and we’re thrilled to continue to enhance our offering to a market that has become much more ambitious in terms of trends.
We understand that design trends change, as well as budgets, so we offer a wide range that really can suit any requirement — we have marble designs to suit those looking for a spa-like appearance, concrete effects for an industrial look, or our luxury feature panels that can create a beautiful feature behind the shower head or basin.
In kitchens, our splashback range can create pops of colour which is particularly interesting in today’s open plan living environments, with colour used to help zone different areas and create an inclusive feel.
For more information on Fibo’s extensive kitchen and bathroom product range, including demonstration videos, head to: www.fibo.co.uk