Decor Cladding Direct is a North East retailer specialising in bathrooms and PVC cladding. For our latest It’s My Business interview feature, we spoke to directors Phil Mordey and Lee Bell.
Pictured: Phil Mordey (left) and Lee Bell (right).
Tell us more about Decor Cladding Direct
P. Our business model is relatively simple – we sell decorative cladding and bathroom suites and furniture to trade and consumer. We stock the North East’s biggest range of cladding with bathrooms and currently operate from five locations across the region.
Is there a big market for cladding?
P. Absolutely! When we started selling cladding it had a reputation for being a low cost alternative to tiles and something landlords and housing associations would put into rented properties as it was easy to fit and maintain.
L. It’s those three key things that have become the main selling points of cladding and allowed it to become what it is today. It’s still cheaper than tiling, it’s still easy to fit and it’s still a doddle to maintain, but it’s become more than just a cheap alternative to tiles. With the introduction and growth of innovative brands such as VOX and Dumaplast, cladding has become something people want in their bathrooms and beyond.
P. Cladding is now used in kitchens, hallways, living rooms, bedrooms and a lot of our customers also use it in commercial settings – cafes, hotel receptions, offices and public restrooms. So over the past ten years the cladding market has completely evolved into something desirable and what was a ‘cheap and easy’ stigma has become a big part of the appeal.
The business itself has also grown substantially over the past ten years, hasn’t it?
L. Yes it has. We started out in 1998 with a single showroom in Washington selling bathrooms and cladding predominantly to trade customers such as bathroom fitters. As our business, and the cladding market in general, started to grow we launched our online shop, Bathroom Cladding Direct, and started to build up a national customer base and opened a warehouse and distribution centre in 2007.
P. In 2015 we took on a second showroom unit at Kingston Park in Newcastle and wanted a brand that reflected the growing demand for cladding as a quality home decor product so we branded the new showroom as Decor Cladding Direct, followed by a re-brand of the original Washington showroom shortly afterwards.
We then opened a third showroom at Number One Industrial Estate in Consett and moved our warehouse and head office to larger premises in Washington in 2016.
There’s also a showroom in Sunderland – tell us about that
P. The showroom in Hendon is franchised. The Sunderland outlet is branded as Decor Cladding Direct and included in all of our marketing materials, though financially it operates as a separate entity.
Where’s next on the showroom expansion plan?
L. We open in Darlington in a few months time and we’re recruiting for a showroom manager and working on the fit-out as we speak. This will be by far our largest showroom to date with over 40 bathroom displays and our largest selection of cladding shower panels and flooring with plenty of storage space for great stock availability.
P. Longer term, we hope to cover the whole of the north from Yorkshire to the Borders. Once the Darlington showroom is up and running we will look for other opportunities across the North East.