We speak to Jon Stanley, the marketing director of Caesarstone UK & EMEA, about his favourite Caesarstone collections, how the company is fairing in the current climate, and what we have to look forward to within the KB industry.
Renowned for its aesthetic quality and forward-thinking designs, Caesarstone is a global designer and manufacturer of quartz surfaces. Used both domestically in kitchens and bathrooms, and commercially across retail spaces, restaurants and hotels, Caesarstone is a leading manufacturer in the KB industry, and its collections often break the mould.
Caesarstone has recently launched a new captivating collection of dark stone surfaces, to meet the growing trend of darker interiors. Several years in the making, the collection features four new dark, sultry shades called 'Black Tempal', 'Empira Black', 'Oxidian' and 'Piatto Black'. Three of the shades - Black Tempal, Piatto Black and Oxidian - are enhanced by the brand’s new Natural Finish, which creates a slightly textured appearance that adds warmth and tactility to the surface.
Eager to find out more about Caesarstone, we spoke to the company’s marketing director for the UK & EMEA, Jon Stanley, discovering his favourite Caesarstone collections; how the company is fairing in the current climate; and what we have to look forward to within the KB industry.
Tell us a bit more about Caesarstone?
A global designer and manufacturer of quartz surfaces, Caesarstone’s products are used domestically in kitchens and bathrooms and commercially in a variety of project types from hotels, restaurants and retail spaces through to sports grounds such as the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, designed by Populous.
Caesarstone’s award-winning Metropolitan Collection was launched in 2018; it’s richly textured with nuanced tones and patterns and riffs on naturally weathered concretes and metals. The in-house design team typically work 3 years in advance, often with leading trend forecasters such as Li Edlekoort, with whom the brand has a longstanding relationship.
Caesarstone has been a mainstay of Milan Design week for many years, working on large, interactive installations with a number of leading designers, including Tom Dixon, Jaime Hyon and, most recently in 2018, with Snarkitecture.
The brand has been in the UK for around 12 years or more but it was set up as a direct business – Caesarstone UK – at the start of 2017. The UK team stands at around 50 people and operates from a HQ, warehouse, offices and showroom in North London. We also have a warehouse / distribution centre in Trafford Park and will be expanding further in the coming months.
Tell us about yourself?
I am the Marketing Director for Caesarstone UK & EMEA. I joined Caesarstone in Dec 2016 in order to help launch the UK direct business. Previously, my career had been built in the automotive and luxury sectors, where I worked with brands such as Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, McLaren Automotive, Wally Yachts and Vertu. I knew a little about the Caesarstone brand and reputation prior to joining the company and felt that its premium nature and design led approach chimed with my own experience and expertise.
Do you have a favourite Caesarstone product, or collection?
We have a core collection of around 50 products in the UK, of which there are at least six or seven that I covert for my own home. Statuario Maximus is one of our hero products and I love its subtlety and elegance. Equally, I know what we have coming to market in the months ahead and there are at least two that could be in contention for my kitchen!
However, on most days of the week, I’d have to go with Rugged Concrete. It was such a game changer for the market when it launched, and it has opened up a whole new aesthetic for designers and consumers, as well as going on to spawn the award winning Metropolitan Collection.
How is the company fairing, in the current climate?
We have been open throughout, in terms of our warehouse operation, as we had a large number of inbound containers coming from our manufacturing sites in ME and US, as well as outbound stock going to a small number of fabricators that remained open.
We were quick to set up work-from-home operations for everyone that could and are in the process of a phased return while adhering to Government guidelines – and beyond. Staff are temperature (thermal scan) tested on arrival, we have social distancing measures in place, and strict controls on movements around the building.
We are now fully stocked and while deliveries have never stopped, we are now seeing increased demand for product, samples brochures etc. as well as consumer enquires. There are signs of life in the market across both retail and commercial.
What changes have you seen in the KB industry, as a result of COVID-19?
In the short term, as with many industries, there was an immediate switch to digital mediums, with kitchen designers consulting with clients at home over Zoom or similar. Consumer interest in kitchen and broader interior renovations over the past few months has increased significantly it seems, not least as home-working has led many people to re-evaluate their spaces.
I’m of the view that there won’t necessarily be immediate seismic change. As things open again, as the market comes back, there is going to be a period of ongoing adaptation, of trying to find new ways of doing things. The lockdown has provided a period of reflection for many individuals and businesses and I have heard a number of people say that they have had some minor epiphanies about their previous ways of working or operations, with a view to changing things over the coming months.
Do you see many positives for Caesarstone, and the KB industry, coming out of the current climate?
My tendency is always to be optimistic, so yes. The increase in digital traffic– virtual showroom visits for Caesarstone are up around 800% since March – suggest a large consumer appetite for kitchen renovations.
Many of us have been at home for well over two months, working from a kitchen table while sat looking at tired kitchens or décor. There is always talk of the kitchen as the hub of the home, the hardest working room in the house. Lockdown has added a new and unexpected dimension to this for many people and there will be a desire to adapt and update in many homes.
What should we be looking out for, from Caesarstone and the larger KB industry, for the rest of the year?
We are optimistic. Specifically for Caesarstone, we are carrying huge momentum from 2019 and Q1 2020. We are looking forward to a forthcoming launch which will include further products that are unique to Caesarstone, designed in-house and via a deep and rigorous conception process. Our brand and business are growing, our team is expanding, and we have the right products in the pipeline for the next two to three years.
As for the broader industry, there are a huge number of exciting conversations taking place across the kitchen sector, from smart tech to multigenerational living as well as changes to material and layouts. Consumers are becoming more adventurous and are open to new ideas.
Anything you're excited about for the future?
I’m an early riser so I’m excited about flexible hours and an office / home working hybrid becoming the norm.
Anything else to add?
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