Following its recent acquisitions of Capitol Tiles and Walls & Floors, Tile Mountain - now the UK’s largest privately-owned tile retailer – has invested in digitalising its new wholesale arm and is still working to open new UK showrooms that offer a seamless link to its online operation.
Tile Mountain bought Coventry-based Capitol Tile Group out of liquidation last November, taking on the wholesale and distribution side of the business, including the main distribution centre in Coventry, plus the trade counter on site.
Having looked more closely at the wholesale side of the tile market in the lead up to and after this deal, Tile Mountain chairman Mo Iqbal told DIY Week he found that operations are still “quite old fashioned”, with very little digital advancements.
Explaining that the sector “was ready for change,” Mr Iqbal details a number of changes Tile Mountain has made to the business, including creating a digital home portal for its wholesale customers, allowing them to view stock levels online, print out statements, and even place orders. “It sounds really simple,” says Mo. “But just being able to check stock whenever they want – even at weekends, when most traditional wholesalers would be closed – is a huge help for them.”
He adds: “I’m surprised we were the first to do it. There are wholesalers who are still picking off paper sheets and not got a decent warehouse management system in place. There are no big corporate animals in the tile wholesale market, so it has been under invested for a while.”
In the meantime, Tile Mountain has still got its sights set on opening new UK showrooms, following the “huge success” of its outlets in Stoke on Trent and Stockport; although Mr Iqbal adds that the final target is "constantly evolving". The store, which don’t carry stock, are designed to provide consumers with inspiration and guidance before they then place their order online and Mr Iqbal says customers are willing to travel for miles to visit one of these physical branches.
“For the next 10-15 years, the consumer will want to go to visit a physical location," said Mr Iqbal. "We want to have that environment for them – one that is totally linked into the digital offer we have. Nobody in the tile sector has got it right… I’m hoping to be the first.”
Read the full interview in the June 14 edition of DIY Week