One of the largest ceramics brands in the world, RAK Ceramics specialises in ceramic and gres porcelain wall and floor tiles, tableware, sanitaryware and faucets. Headquartered in the UAE, RAK Ceramics serves clients in more than 150 countries through its network of operational hubs in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, North and South America, and Australia. Hospitality Interiors caught up with UK sales and marketing director, Ben Bryden, and MD, Alvin Biggs, to hear more about RAK Ceramics’ success and evolution…
Tell us about your role at RAK Ceramics, and your experience of working at one of the world’s largest ceramics brands –
Alvin Biggs: I joined RAK Ceramics in 2012, becoming joint MD in 2014 and MD in 2015. In that 10 years it has been a real pleasure to see the brand and the business go from strength to strength.
Ben Bryden: I was originally brought to RAK Ceramics to develop the UK specification team, with a view to rolling this out across Europe, eventually taking on the role of sales and marketing director for RAK Ceramics in the UK.
How would you describe RAK Ceramics as a company, and its presence within the design community?
Ben: Over the last few years, we’ve seen a major shift in the brand perception of RAK Ceramics in the UK. Before, we were very much viewed as a middle-of-the-road, mass-market brand, whereas our focus has more recently been to elevate the brand into the affordable, aspirational sector, with exclusive designs.
What do you feel sets RAK Ceramics apart from other ceramics brands?
Alvin: As an innovator within the interiors industry, helping shape new trends and ideas, RAK Ceramics is able to offer a complete solution, from sanitaryware, brassware, furniture and mirrors to wall, floor and outdoor tiles. This means there are options available for both the top-end luxury market and the more everyday functional needs of large volume orders. This, along with a unique supply chain, with full UK warehousing, sets us apart.
Ben: Being able to offer such a varied range of products is definitely where RAK Ceramics stands out. As a company we have the capacity to produce 118 million square metres of tiles, five million pieces of sanitaryware, 24 million pieces of porcelain tableware and one million faucet pieces per year. We’re a one-stop-shop for bathroom design, covering sanitaryware, brassware, mirrors, furniture, countertops and accessories, and are also the third-largest tile producer globally. We can offer all this under a single brand, which is beneficial for our customers.
What was the thinking behind opening a ‘Design Hub’ rather than just a showroom in Clerkenwell this May, and how has it been received?
Ben: Rather than a showroom, the Design Hub is a destination for those designing interior spaces to come together, to be inspired and to explore the possibilities of including RAK Ceramics products in their projects.
The location, at 100 St John Street in London, is ideally placed for those visiting the capital’s design quarter in Clerkenwell, with the hub being one of the largest venues of its kind in the area, with 7276ft2 over two floors.
It’s about more than just the products alone, although these are of course important, and we will be using the space as a platform for new product launches. We will also regularly host seminars and other key events aimed at shaping the way we think about interior design, and to explore new ideas and innovations.
Alvin: We’re really proud that London has been selected as the location for RAK Ceramics’ first global Design Hub. It has been extremely well received so far. The launch this May was a brilliant week where we welcomed many members of the international design community, and we’re looking forward to using the space to its maximum potential going forward.
How are designers selected for RAK Ceramics collaborations?
Alvin: RAK Ceramics collaborates with some of the world’s leading designers to create breath-taking collections. So far, we have been lucky enough to work with Patrick Norguet, Giuseppe Maurizio ScutellÃ , Daniel Debiasi and Federico Sandri, as well as very recently with Elie Saab.
As a global business, it makes sense that we draw inspiration for our products from around the world, and collaborating with internationally renowned designers enables us to do that and ensures we cater for a global need. It is important that the designers we work with share our passion for quality, for innovation and for creative thinking.
Ben: Our designer collaborations bring about creative ideas and focus on the latest trends in the industry, bringing a designer’s idea to life with high-quality products that cater for a particular requirement.
What new products/collaborations can you tell us about?
Alvin: Our latest collaboration, launched in the UK at the opening of the Design Hub in London, is with the fashion designer Elie Saab. We share a vision of exquisite design, impeccable craftsmanship and uncompromising excellence in luxury living, so it’s a very good pairing in that respect. The collection features beautiful finishes, elegant marble textures, and classic and contemporary colour combinations – all produced using only the finest raw materials and the latest technology.
The collection can be seen now at the London Design Hub, and has been very well received so far.
What’s your favourite memory or experience from RAK Ceramics to date?
Alvin: For me, the year we doubled our turnover from the date I became MD was a standout moment. More recently, the opening of the hub in London was definitely my proudest and most memorable moment.
Ben: Bringing to life the Design Hub and kbb [Birmingham] 2020 – the expressions of interest and appreciation on how the brand image has developed in the short time since the global vision was announced in 2016.
What can we expect from RAK Ceramics over the next five years?
Alvin: Our target over the next 2-3 years is to really drive into the affordable aspirational and affluent aspirational sector, offering our customers even more opportunity to create beautiful interiors with our products.
Ben: The industry certainly never sits still, and neither do we. Our team are constantly busy keeping abreast of trends and predictions of what might be coming next in hotel design so that we can react quickly with product solutions that fulfil a need. That is all while offering high-quality solutions, of course, which means our customers can put their trust in the RAK Ceramics brand.