There’s a lot more to the perfect bathroom than a bunch of pipes and fittings. As one of the most functional rooms in a house, your bathroom needs to be practical – but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be stylish.
Mico is a subsidiary brand of Fletcher Building Ltd and is well-known as New Zealand’s largest plumbing and bathroom specialist. Over the past 75 years, they’ve helped countless Kiwis to craft their dream bathrooms. Today, the company has over 60 branches across New Zealand.
All the pipes, nuts and bolts you find in a bathroom - commonly referred to as “back-of-wall” products – have always been Mico’s primary business, but that’s only one side of the Mico brand ‘coin’, explains development manager Anton Howell.
There’s also the “front-of-wall” products like your black and gold taps or marble-top vanities – the things that give your bathroom character. Mico showrooms weren’t a new concept, but Anton admits they were beginning to look a little tired. If the company was going to continue to grow its share in a competitive market, they needed to shake up the way they were doing things.
Like most retail brands, bathroom trends can move quickly, “one minute gold hardware is on trend, next month it could be bronze,” Anton says. But it was hard for them to swap out their products without stripping the whole showroom. A process like this across 60 stores every month just wasn’t plausible. It would take a lot of time and money – not to mention, leave the company with unnecessary waste.
“We usually have a vanity up on display for a few months and when that goes out of style, we wanted to be able to take it down easily and replace it with a new one – without having to call in a contractor,” Anton adds.
Through the grapevine, Anton heard about Retail Dimension. They were given a stock-standard brief – number of showrooms, locations, size – a tight budget, and a blank canvas.
“We wanted them to scope the market for us and design us a showroom that not only enabled us to keep up with fashion and trends, but was market-leading in design,” Anton says. “But, with so many showrooms, we also needed to work to a limited budget for each store.”
Each showroom has a base design which uses a set piece of modular componentry, that can be manipulated to fit in a small, medium or large-sized store. All their fixtures and fittings can be moved or swapped out easily – meaning less waste.
Typically, Mico would go three or four years between retail fitouts. Now, they can change their set-up quickly to showcase a new range or seasonal stock. Using a modular design also means that the company can tailor every store to suit its location and local demographic.
RD were not only in charge of designing these new showrooms, but they also manufacture all the componentry. They’ve even developed a ‘Mico-catalogue’ which stores can order spare parts from when needed.
Anton says one of RD’s biggest drawcards was the fact that they were a full service “one-stop-shop”. He says the company didn’t want to have to engage multiple vendors if they could avoid it. Working with a company like RD who could do the design and manufacture, significantly reduced overall project costs – and made the fitout process faster.
“We found them very approachable. They gave us one key point of contact which made the entire process run smoothly – I don’t like chasing,” he laughs.
“They were also really adaptable – always looking to get more efficiency out of their design and products so we could fit in as much as we could within budget.”
So, did anything unexpected happen? “What we didn’t expect was the VR technology,” Anton laughs.
Mico is a large company which means there’s a lot of internal stakeholders involved in the approval of showroom design. At times, it can be tricky to keep track of different design iterations, “or visualise something we’ve been working on for six months, so we had to sell the dream,” Anton says.
“Using VR, RD were able to take our big bosses on a virtual tour of the new showroom, and they also set up a mini showroom with a vanity and wallpaper.”
Being able to see the space before we started tearing down any walls, made a huge difference when it came time to fit-out the first showroom, he explains.
Walk into a new Mico showroom these days and you’ll find everything you need to create the bathroom of your dreams. Taps, showers and free-standing baths galore; even room sets so you can get a feel for the design of whole room decked out with the latest in bathroom fashion.
Looking for an innovative retail fitout? Whatever your vision, scale or special requirements, Retail Dimension can design and manufacture the right retail space for your business.
Get in touch with the team today.