There’s nothing quite like a steamy, candle-lit bath to soak away the troubles of the day. This emotional and physical sigh of relief is something Duravit has pursued for more than 200 years in creating high-class sanitary ware and luxurious bathrooms you can’t wait to come home to. What started as a small earthenware factory in Hornberg, Germany has expanded to become a manufacturing giant operating across 130 countries, with 35 subsidiaries and 12 production plants, and a global workforce of more than 6,000. From ceramics and bathroom furniture, to bathtubs, wellness systems, shower-toilets and faucets, Duravit’s international offering claims a 40% share in the high-end sanitary product market.
With manufacturing sites in Germany, Egypt, France, India, Tunisia and Turkey, Duravit’s success in China goes back to 1997, where it began as a new subsidiary in Shanghai, with its first factory opening in Chongqing six years later. The company’s R&D departments are located at its Hornberg headquarters and the Duravit Sanitary Ware Technology Centre was built in Shanghai in 2011. Inside these creative hubs, Duravit innovates across areas ranging from material engineering and flushing technologies, to electrical engineering for lighting and sound, as well as for look, feel, acoustics and usability.
China is now the company’s second-largest market after Germany. Managing Director of Duravit China Peter Bromberger cannot emphasise enough the strategic importance of the burgeoning region. With its manufacturing and management centre based in Chongqing and sales and marketing services in Shanghai, Duravit China now also has sales branches in Chengdu, Beijing and Guangzhou. Peter is confident that the Chinese market will continue to grow and even surpass the German market within the next five years. “On Duravit’s global business map, China is one of the most important and dynamic markets within the group.”
“On Duravit’s global business map, China is one of the most important and dynamic markets within the group.”
Leveraging more than 25 years of management experience across a wide range of industries including finance, manufacturing, automotive and electronics, Peter joined Duravit China in January 2015 with a targeted plan for growth. “China is a very brand-driven market, so our strategy is to strengthen our brand values by increasing the number of our showrooms. This visibility on the ground is now bearing its first fruits,” notes Peter. “In 2017 alone, we renovated every one of our showrooms in China and opened 40 new ones. As a result, retail sales grew faster than project sales, reaching almost 40% of our total sales last year. Moving forward, our target is to achieve a balance with 50% project and 50% retail sales.” By the end of this year, Peter is aiming for 150 showrooms throughout China, including flagship showrooms in Suzhou and Shanghai.
Duravit’s Chongqing Innovation and Production Centre became operational at the end of last year. Located at the Luohuang Industrial Park and covering an area of 234 acres, the facility is Duravit’s largest single investment project, fully equipped with state-of-the-art technologies based on industry 4.0 principles. “Sustainable growth is what we have aspired to since our founding some 200 years ago.
By laying a strong foundation for growth with our construction of the Chongqing factory – one of the world’s most modern ceramic factories – our production capacity is expected to rocket.” In conjunction with its two older factories in Chongqing and Shanghai, Peter says this new facility will bring China’s manufacturing capacity up to 1.5 million products per year, supplying to both Asia and the US.
Through constant innovation, Duravit aims to meet the present and future requirements of its clients across all areas. Unlike traditional ceramic factories, Duravit chooses to use automation wherever possible to ensure efficient operations, save energy and systematically reduce emissions. “While we are a family business with century-old traditions, we also stand for innovation in the field of good design, top quality, and the intelligent use of technology.
“To me, Duravit is a company with an accomplished past and limitless future possibilities,” says Peter. “While increasing our online exposure and ecommerce activities, we will spare no effort to lead the move to integrate furniture and luxury to create ‘living bathrooms’. We’re contemporary without being trendy, more straightforward than opulent, and always timeless. We adopt comfort-enhancing technology, but never at the expense of design.” By devoting itself to these principles, Duravit can create a consistent design language that extends beyond the individual products in the bathroom by taking a more holistic approach.
“We’re contemporary without being trendy, more straightforward than opulent, and always timeless.”
A sustainable bathroom
It is Duravit’s declared goal to return as much as possible to the production cycle. It’s developers and designers focus on energy-efficient and water-saving solutions, the recycling of materials, environment-friendly manufacturing, and the creation of timeless products that retain both their appeal and usability for years.
Peter explains that government policies to prevent overheating in the real estate market have had some impact on the business. “Despite some volatility, we keep ourselves well-prepared and, as always, stick together as one. Following a rather weak 2015, we achieved outstanding revenue performance in 2016 and 2017,” he says. This growth is strongly reinforced by Duravit’s bond with its national distributors and European counterparts.
“With robust, loyal partners like Hamberger Sanitary, we are thriving in a marketplace that is dynamic and competitive like nowhere else. We are determined to continue this successful collaboration alongside our proven strategies for Chinese customers. Duravit is the future of bathrooms and we will always deliver on our mission without compromise.”