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Matt Hicks talks Kitchen Taps

Matt, tell us a bit more about yourself.

I’ve been with Bristan for nearly 7 years and started as product manager for kitchen products, where one of my first projects was applying the Easyfit technology to kitchen taps and launching it to the market. Since then, I’ve had several roles in product management and was recently promoted to head of product for the entire Group, covering both Bristan and Heritage brands.

How did the Easyfit system come about?

The technology already existed before I joined the company but it had only been applied to bathroom taps. We conducted some research and found out that kitchen taps are replaced more frequently; not surprising, considering they are used more often. Also, the kitchen is the heart of the home where friends and family gather so is more likely to be upgraded. Add in the fact that kitchen taps are notoriously fiddly to replace, due to nature of their placement with bowls and cramped cupboards underneath, and it was a no brainer. We launched seven Easyfit kitchen products initially before rolling it out over the entire range, and it remains the most successful launch we’ve ever had!

What are the key kitchen trends that plumbers should be aware of?

Instant hot water taps are very popular now, with nearly every interior magazine tipping them as the ‘must-have’ gadget for any new kitchen. It’s just the convenience factor of not having to wait around to cook vegetables, pasta, make hot drinks or clean; there are so many more uses than people realise.

Rapid Boiling Water Tap

A wider trend that is influencing product selection is the ‘war on plastic’, as people are turning their backs on single-use water bottles in favour of refillable options. This means homeowners are looking for products that provide easy access to fresh, filtered water.

Certain instant hot water taps also have filters included for an all-in-one solution but they are premium products that may not suit all properties. More affordable options exist in the form of conventional kitchen mixers with filters, such as the Bristan Gallery Pure or Artisan Pure, both of which are a sound alternative for homeowners whose priority is to reduce their plastic use.

The key to securing a sale is sometimes as simple as making homeowners aware that these products exist. Those of us who work in the industry are sometimes guilty of assuming that everyone is aware of the options available, when they’re actually not.

If a plumber is looking to maximise their revenue on a job, what products would you say are easiest to upsell?

Now that online shopping and review sites are so popular, more and more homeowners are purchasing products themselves, but they still rely on professionals to do the installation, servicing and maintenance.

The key is to look long-term with products that you can use to secure ongoing maintenance work. The benefit of boiling water taps or filter kitchen mixers is that they come with filters that need to be replaced every six months on average, creating the perfect opportunity for repeat custom.

Is there any legislation that plumbers need to be clued up on?

One issue that causes a lot of confusion is the temperature of instant hot water taps. Although there are many products on the market that go up to 100°C, Water Regulations state that “stored water cannot exceed 100°C in a domestic dwelling”, meaning that these models are not compliant with the UK water regulations.

Alternative models, including Bristan’s Rapid range, have a maximum temperature of 98°C to ensure compliance with the Regulations. The temperatures they achieve are more than hot enough for everyday domestic activities and, in fact, are preferable when making tea or coffee as boiling water can burn the leaves or beans, resulting in a bitter taste.

Boiling Water Taps - Making Tea

Where can plumbers find more information on these topics?

We understand that most plumbers are very busy and struggle to find time for training, so we have developed a series of instructional videos for our key products, including the Rapid range, which takes them through installation step-by-step, including hints and tips on how to keep pipework and cabling looking tidy.

We also partner with merchants to do roadshows where customers can pop in whilst collecting their materials for the day, have a breakfast sandwich, and have a Q&A session on with one of our product experts.