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Ideal Standard’s Antonios Mourikis talks about penetrating the regional market

Ideal Standard MENA, provider of total bathroom solutions, has been in the GCC for over two years. Business development director Antonios Mourikis talks about penetrating further into the market through innovation and a green motto

Ideal Standard is a recognised European brand, but it still considered new in the GCC. Could you tell us more about how Ideal Standard aims to grow in this market?

Our company has been around for over a 100 years, 34 of those years we have been exporting products from Europe and the US to the GCC. So the market is not new to us. We did, however, only begin operations here two years ago when our shareholders decided to start a company in Dubai. The company, Ideal Standard MENA, represents our international services here in the GCC. Though we still produce exclusively in Europe, we have all our distribution here. I think the GCC market is very lucrative and has a need for our products. It will take time but establishing ourselves in this market wouldn’t be difficult.

Could you compare the competition in this region with European and American markets?

From my observation, the competition is very aggressive in this part of the world because of the (comparatively) huge demand for suppliers. However, we are in a very good position. Though the competition has been established, everyone believes in our brand and our brand name. We were the first European-American bathroom supplier in these countries and in this part of the world.

What are some of the challenges you face in the market?

The challenge for us specifically is to make Ideal Standard MENA as strong and accomplished as we are in Europe. In order to be a solid company in this part of the world, we need to build a reputation for many years which we cannot just expect that to happen overnight.

What are some of the latest trends that will be shaping the industry in 2016?

About a year ago, there was a need for green products in the European market. I think that trend has now become global. Water-saving is a huge trend, globally and especially in the Middle East.

This part of the world, being an arid region, gives a lot more importance to water saving, especially in terms of innovation and technology. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has a big demand for water saving products, followed by the UAE and Qatar. I assume this would be a key trend for the next five years, till creating such products would be an absolute necessity.

We specialise in such products, not just because it is a trend, but because we believe that by saving water you can ultimately save the planet. Water-saving could also be very cost-effective, particularly when it comes to residential projects. A good example of such a product would be one of innovations that we introduced over a decade ago, we produced regulators in our mixers which could save water consumption up to 50% eventually also reducing overall expenses.

What is the driving force behind the need to innovate?

We have always aimed to be different and create products that would ultimately help the customer. Our aim is simply to perform to the best of our ability and we could only do that by innovation. We also believe that we are here to help the planet which is why we refer to ourselves as “water-savers”.

Could you tell us more about your new innovation AquaBlade? How has the regional response been for this product?

The AquaBlade flush is a newly engineered technology that creates a cascading wall of water from the top of the toilet bowl opening. The optimum water flow is highly efficient and with minimal splash. I truly believe that this product will take over washrooms in the future.

Until now, the product has been very well received in Europe. We launched it recently at The Big 5 Show 2015 in the GCC, so we expect the same response from this region in the next couple of years.

The feedback we have gotten from clients has been very positive because of its unique, luxurious, and elegant finish.