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The potential appeal of stainless steel sanitary ware

November 2015

Senda, the flagship for stainless steel sanitary ware

At the end of 2013, DELABIE became one of Europe’s leading producers of stainless steel sanitary ware with its acquisition of Senda. Specialising in working stainless steel, this family-owned enterprise produces quality products with sleek designs.

Voted Best Industrial Enterprise in Portugal for three years in a row, Senda is in a strong financial position. Its global access, with 80% of its sales achieved via export, its solid business know-how and its dedicated workforce all appealed to the French group. Senda’s history echoes that of DELABIE: co-directed by the three DELABIE brothers, the third generation of directors since its founding, the company has seen strong growth over the last ten years. The corporate culture is deeply rooted, and product quality remains a priority.

Having already tested the water with the acquisition of Kuhfuss Sanitar, the number two manufacturer in the German sanitary ware market, the DELABIE brothers are excited by opportunities in this sector.

New opportunities for development

The brothers immediately put their development projects for Senda in place, keeping the former owner in place to head up the business. They are investing in recruitment and new machinery to increase the production capacity. In January 2015 the new DELABIE stainless steel sanitary ware range was ready to conquer new markets.

Previously made to order, which carried a minimum delivery period of at least two months, the majority of models are now held in stock. Within three years, all products will be available very quickly, offering a unique service in the stainless steel sanitary ware sector. "This responsiveness is essential to satisfy our current customers and meet the needs of potential new customers, i.e. interior designers." explains Luc Delabie.

Stainless steel is traditionally associated with the commercial and secure sectors – service stations, detention centres, police stations, etc. because it is easy to maintain and it will withstand intensive use and acts of vandalism (both voluntary and non-voluntary). This expanding market represents a major opportunity. However, Senda has developed products with aesthetic lines in all of its ranges and DELABIE intends to exploit this advantage and invest in the non-domestic prestige market. Museums, exhibition centres, hotels, restaurants, international airports, etc., there is no shortage of venues where finely crafted stainless steel sanitary ware can find a home.

Embracing the world of high-end design

"Stainless steel is a noble material. Served by stylish design and associated with quality materials, it can create beautiful objects, which do not alter but gain, over time, an aspect which creates a particular ambience." states Luc Delabie. He cites the toilet facilities in the Branly Museum and the Pompidou Centre in Paris as examples, where stainless steel sanitary ware reinforces the comfort and modern aesthetics. He also refers to the preference for stainless steel shown by renowned French architect Jean Nouvel (Parisian based designer of the New Opera House in Paris and the Doha Tower). Increasingly, specifiers are becoming aware of the qualities of the material.

For a cost that is ostensibly the same as high-end ceramics, stainless steel works on different aesthetic levels: the mirror effect of bright polished stainless steel which matches the chrome-plated finish of the water controls; polished satin matt finish which softens the brilliance of the metal; products with clean and sleek lines with no sharp edges or welded seams, etc.

An international target for DELABIE’s stainless steel

DELABIE is not just confining itself to France for this niche market. As European market leader in water controls and sanitary fittings for commercial environments, the group exports to more than 70 countries from its historical manufacturing site in Friville, in the Somme, France, and through its various subsidiaries in Europe, Hong Kong and Dubai.

Luc Delabie says: "Initially we will focus our marketing efforts in the European community, notably the United Kingdom and Germany. Then we will expand into Russia, the Middle East and China. The middle classes are growing rapidly in these countries where we already have significant business relations.

Stainless steel – well worth every penny

The new product catalogue, available soon, showcases the aesthetic advantages of stainless steel sanitary ware. DELABIE has already installed its flagship products in its showroom in Friville, created in a beautifully restored 19th century building.