The summer is coming to a close and as the new season begins there is a sense of renewal and refreshment after an eventful few months for our industry. This September we introduce the BCFA’s new Member of the Month, who is looking forward to continuing their hard work in the coming season; Roman Showers. We spoke with CEO, David Osborne about the manufacturing processes that go on behind the scenes at Roman, how they implement sustainability through their production and future plans to expand their market and product range.
Please could you introduce yourself and Roman?
I’m David Osborne, CEO at Roman. Roman was started by my father in 1985 and I joined in 1992 – we are entirely privately owned. We design and manufacture every type of Shower Enclosure, Bath Screen and Wetroom System imaginable – and we now also mould and fabricate Solid Surface and have a specialist Bespoke Joinery division for the bathroom industry. We have an extremely strong focus on the project and hospitality sector and as a result we are very flexible and capability based. This has led to rapid expansion in the sector over the last ten years and we now work with the majority of the major International Hotel Groups which has significantly expanded our international reach – we have now supplied specialist projects in 68 countries around the world. We now find ourselves as the largest manufacturer in the UK by a long way and in the top echelon globally.
Where does your manufacturing take place?
Our manufacturing hub is Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. We operate on a 400,000 square foot site which comprises our headquarters and shower manufacturing plant; a Solid Surface Moulding plant for specialist Anti-Slip Shower Trays and Basins; a Solid Surface Fabrication plant which is mostly focused on Integrated Vanity Tops; and a bespoke Joinery division which creates Case Goods and Bathroom Furniture to integrate into project specifications. We have subsidiaries in the Republic of Ireland and Malaysia – which is our specification hub for the Asia Pacific region. We also have two A&D showrooms – one is in Chelsea and the other is in Kuala Lumpur. All manufacturing is firmly based at our headquarters in County Durham and all design and specification detail is entirely focused there also.
Can you tell us about the materials which you work with?
Within the showering marketplace, our key materials are aluminium, toughened safety glass and brass. Our aluminium extrusion and anodising division gives us a unique capability with total control of the most difficult area of our supply chain. This capability has led us to widen our colour finishes on aluminium to match the advances made in brassware. We now currently offer twelve finishes for the retail market, but for project volumes, the colour options are almost limitless. We offer all relevant glass thicknesses and of course specialist printing alongside textured finishes such as fluted glass. Our brass hinges, handles and joints also perfectly match the appropriate brassware. For structural solid surface products such as Shower Trays and Basins, we mould our own RomanStone product and for fabrication we integrate and seamlessly join the moulded products with solid surface sheet – working with the key brands such as Corian.
What processes take place within your manufacturing facility?
Our manufacturing process is end to end from design conception to final finished product. Shower Enclosures, Bath Screens and Wetroom Panels are all fully manufactured on site and subsequently transported all over the world as finished goods. Being so focused on design and capability, we are familiar with pressures of the design process and are normally working on very short timescales and tight deadlines for mock-up rooms – a really important differential for a British manufacturer which is valued and trusted by our key partners in hospitality design. Both of our solid surface plants have little standard product through the retail channel and are primarily focused on hospitality and project design. These are both working off project specific plans for the vast majority of their business and as a result, once again offer unrivaled flexibility and dynamic lead times as required.
How do you address sustainability throughout your production?
Sustainability is core to all manufacturing activities at Roman and permeates every aspect of our operations and material selection is at one with the Circular Economy. Every piece of Roman aluminium has already been recycled before we use it; likewise, our corrugated cardboard packaging; and our statistics on glass and brass are rapidly approaching the same levels. These materials are all easily recyclable at their end of life – and can be reused at their original value. This is also true for our solid surface material usage as solid surface products can be reground and reused at their original value. As a business overall, we are undertaking a Carbon Neutral project which will be accredited later in 2021. All of this comes sharply into focus in the hospitality design sector more than any other channel that we operate in. The major Hotel Groups are leading the way in sustainability and we are perfectly positioned to complement and partner with their ambitions.
It is not only manufacturing which you have invested in recently but you have also welcomed new product designers into your team, can you tell us more?
It is crucial to us that we constantly maintain and enhance our service – and particularly in terms of design. Over the last twelve months, we have added two new product designers and our R&D team is now up to 6. This expansion has allowed us to add a variety of skills and backgrounds to the team as we have designers who have graduated in product design, furniture design, industrial design and architectural design. This variety has developed the team enormously and reflects the wide scope of our manufacturing capability and international reach. We have recently upgraded our 3D printing capability to an advanced level. Whilst this helps with prototyping for more standard products, it allows us to have much greater speed in developing project specific designs and mock-ups. The precision and speed of 3D parts gives us certainty – and certainty is good!
What is the next step for your manufacturing facility?
We are always evolving our manufacturing facility and capability. The major step for us in 2021 was introducing the bespoke Joinery and Case Goods division and we expect this to grow significantly over the next few years as it becomes part of our core offer and capability. We have already started adding aluminium trims to furniture which coordinate with the showering products and brassware. There are also a number of easy diversification’s for us due to the manufacturing facilities that we have on site such as solid surface tables and furniture for dining or living areas. We already have everything in place for leg sets and table tops – and of course specialist metal colours. We will be slowly evolving this offer in 2022 and onwards. We can’t stand still and we need to maximise the opportunities from our investment.
Contact Roman through BCFA Product Finder.
The BCFA Product Finder is a unique search engine created especially for interior designers to source contract furnishing companies. Utilising this platform will support your findings for upcoming projects, with over 200 members profiles showcasing the latest product launches, new materials available, industry news and design trends.