Jenny’s interview with the Director of the latest retail outlet to be opened in Hinchley Wood, Colm Maloney Snr., opened her eyes to modern bathroom trends!!
Q. When did you open in Hinchley Wood?
A. Bathroom Gallery opened in Manor Road North in 1990 (now ‘The 1-2-1 Osteopathic Clinic’) and moved to its present location on the corner of Manor Road North and Station Approach in 2015. In 2018, following a disastrous fire in Maloney’s Epsom showroom (nothing could be saved), we made the decision to move to Hinchley Wood, taking over Bathroom Gallery (but keeping its name under the new ownership of Maloney’s). In 2019 I opened a retail shop to complement the showroom, providing a sales outlet to the public for plumbing and heating goods – not bathroom accessories such as bathmats, bins, soap dishes etc. as these are already available in Hinchley Wood. We also have a Wholesale Trade Counter at our Hinchley Wood premises. The retail showroom is much bigger than it looks from the outside, and there are numerous display areas of bathrooms, shower enclosures, tiles, mirrors, bathroom furniture and taps, featuring designs by leading manufacturers. The large screen monitor in the showroom enables us to show customers exactly how various bathroom layouts would fit into their specific space, helping them to make the ideal choice.
Q. How many staff do you employ?
A. There are three staff at the Hinchley Wood premises, and seven in Epsom. The Epsom branch (Colm’s son, Colm Maloney Jnr. is a Director) re-opened in new premises as an office, Trade Counter and warehouse facility.
Q. Have you always lived in this area?
A. I was born in County Mayo, Ireland (Colm’s Irish brogue is still very much in evidence!) and came to the U.K. when I was 17. Whilst working for a plumbing company, I met Mark French of Trucker French – a company which enables smaller companies to be part of a large buying group and have access to beneficial trading terms.
Q. What areas do you cover?
A. We have supplied sanitary ware to London, Kent and the south coast, as well as locally and towns around Hinchley Wood and Epsom. We do not operate a fitting service, but we recommend specialist bathroom installers and work closely with them to provide an excellent result.
Q. What do you enjoy most about your job?
A. This is the first time I have worked in premises on a main road (as opposed to a trading estate) and I thoroughly enjoy being part of the local community and getting to know the locals. As an Irishman, I like a good chat!
Q. What is your biggest challenge?
A. Keeping up to date with the latest trends/designs – and increasing sales. We do not stock “cheap” goods (this is not a Superstore!) but being part of a buying group gives buying power and enables us to get the best terms
Q. How have public tastes in bathrooms changed over the years?
A. There is such a wide choice now. A modern trend is to replace baths with large walk-in showers – particularly if there are two bathrooms in the property. It may be difficult to sell a house without a bath to a young family but, in the grand scheme of things, it is not too expensive to revert to a bath. Overhead waterfall showers are very popular (not always suitable for ladies wishing to keep their hair dry – overcome by providing a separate wall shower). White is the predominant colour for sanitary ware – but grey and black are popular for furniture and accessories. Japanese ‘sensor’ toilets, with heated seats and choice of ‘washing’ facilities are sometimes requested and bidets are making a comeback, as are free-standing baths –
modern, sophisticated versions of late 19th Century clawfoot tubs. In the recent past changes in taste were often the result of people returning from holidays/work abroad where, due to superior water pressure, there was far better shower power! Our long-standing tradition of building houses with hot and cold water tanks necessitated a depth of 1m between tank and shower head to overcome negative pressure. This recommendation was not always followed (either being impossible to fulfil or ignored), resulting in the meagre water output associated with the “British” shower. The use of combination boilers, removing the need for a cold water tank in the roof space, has led to the power showers of today. It is possible to fit toilet facilities into small spaces, and using a toilet with integrated basin is a space saving method of converting an understairs cupboard into a useful room. In the past, clients opted to have bathrooms renovated and fitted in July and August. Today they prefer work to be carried out over the extended Christmas holiday when time does not need to be taken away from work.
Q. Do you have any amusing anecdotes?
A. Sometimes I need to be very discreet, not “take sides” and allow people to argue between themselves! It usually results in gentlemen deciding on the shower and ladies choosing everything else. One entertaining memory is of the gentleman who collected a basin and, on unpacking the box, found it to be blue instead of the white he had ordered. I was subjected to a furious rant on the telephone and, somewhat bemused, suggested he return it. Imagine his embarrassment when I started to unpeel the blue protective plastic covering!
Monday to Friday 7.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Saturday 8.00 a.m. to 12.00 p.m.
Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.
Saturday 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.