A strong sense of innovation and craft
With more than 200 years of history and 1.5 million pieces produced every year for the healthcare, residential and contract sectors, the British philosophy of Ideal Standard is based on dynamism, research and dialogue
The health sector is the strength of the British brand. For years, there have been numerous collaborations with leading medical professionals in infection control to ensure compliance with market regulations
SKUs sold in the UK
projects tracked and managed by our residential team on a daily basis
A ceramic basin, a solid surface counter-top in resistant material and a single touch pressure tap. This is the mobile station for frequent hand washing that Armitage Shanks, part of the Ideal Standard Group, has promptly developed to ensure greater hygiene in times of a pandemic. It can be installed anywhere: on construction sites, outside restaurants, parks, shopping centre entrances. Behind this simple project - easy to install, but effective in its use - hides more than one side of Ideal Standard UK: innovative, pragmatic, functional, flexible.
Always careful to interpret people's needs. “Variety is the spice of life”, they say in the company, “it makes work dynamic and allows us to explore different fields”. There is the healthcare sector, excelling in the world of sanitary ware and tap production for the medical field, the research and technology division dedicated to studying increasingly sophisticated and cutting-edge systems. Then we find the design area flanked by prestigious national and international brands. Suffice to give a quick glance at the catalogues, the website and the many activities of the London showroom in order to confirm these statements.
Ideal Standard's contribution to the icons of the London skyline includes the Leadenhall washbasins, designed by the architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners, that furnish the toilets of the archetypal skyscraper in the heart of London. Equally iconic, Markwik 21 and Contour 21, respectively a tap and a basin, were designed in co-operation with scientists and health specialists to reduce the spread of bacteria and provide an effective solution for hospitals and medical centres. The AquaBlade technology, thanks to the elimination of the rim, guarantees 100% cleaning of the toilet, becoming a valid ally for the safety and hygiene of public as well as private toilets.
A glimpse of the showroom in Clerkenwell: exhibitions, conferences and debates on contemporary living are organized here
It is said that the strength of a brand often has deep and branching roots. Going back to those of Ideal Standard UK, we get to 1817, the year of foundation of Armitage Shanks, the iconic British sanitary ware brand, acquired in 1999 by Ideal Standard international with headquarters in Belgium. It is based in Staffordshire, precisely in Armitage, the village which was indeed named after the company, having been constructed around the factory to initially house the workers. Armitage Shanks chose this location because of the road infrastructure and waterways, that supported the factory and enabled it to be built during the industrial revolution. Today, more than 200 years after the first collections, it is still the national leader producing 1.5 million pieces per year for schools, offices, hotels and private residences, hospitals.
The brand's advantage is also a sophisticated barcode system (SKU - Stock Keeping Unit) that records the history of each piece produced from manufacture to installation. The Armitage production site is joined by the commercial site of Hull in Yorkshire and the London Design and Specification Centre in the Clerkenwell district. Here, in this trendy area in the heart of London, where creative companies and elegant apartments have taken the place of factories and industrial warehouses, solutions are specified through the centre and expertise and support provided to our customers, while the Ideal Standard philosophy expands and develops.
The strength of Ideal Standard UK is in the level of expertise that is brought to any project large or small, residential or commercial.
The desire to develop expertise and drive the market forward is a constant motivator for the business, whether that is understanding and developing new construction methods to maximise efficiencies in offsite build or to work with fast growing online partners to enable and develop a virtual decision making process, for a 203 year old company they are truly young at heart.
projects tracked and managed by our specification team on a daily basis
million of pieces of ceramic cast at our Armitage factory every year
years old Armitage Shanks founded in 1817
years old. Ideal Standard founded in 1896
customer service calls taken weekly
companies brought together in 1999
London Showroom. The London Design and Specification Centre address is: 76-78 Clerkenwell Road
Above. Covering 4,000 square feet, over four floors, the London showroom has been created to bring architects and designers together to experience the group’s evolving family of design-driven products. Visitors benefit from the insight and skills of our in-house design team, who are able to offer practical advice on the planning and designing of bathrooms for a vast range of projects including hotels, offices, hospitals and residential properties.
An interview with Katie Cope, Marketing Director of Ideal Standard UK & Ireland
How would you define the DNA of Ideal Standard in the UK? What makes it unique?
As a total company we are really quite unique in the UK washroom & bathroom market, being the only company that serves every inch of the market from technically advanced clinical solutions for Hospitals to beautiful residential bathrooms at the leading edge of aesthetic design with our Atelier collection.
A strong sense of craft & heritage runs through our veins. We are the last large-scale manufacturer in the UK, moulding & firing clay every day to create two of the most recognised bathroom brands - Ideal Standard and Armitage Shanks. With over 200 years of history, comes a cool authenticity and years of construction design experience that we are fiercely proud of. We have a strong team, particularly skilled in understanding and supporting the specification process, working with our customers to realise their projects large and small.
Which key areas and sectors (innovation, design, healthcare, projects, customer service, to name a few) you believe are the most important to be strengthened today in the UK business?
Right. The Shard, tallest building in the UK and true landmark on the London skyline. Ideal Standard products were developed specifically for this project."
Above. The Bishopsgate under-counter basin is ideally suited for use with Sensorflow 21 deck mounted spouts and the Contour 21 soap dispenser.
Customers are not just looking to buy product, they want a great experience in doing so too. Whether a consumer or a professional buyer, high service levels are a way of life. You expect products to be available when and where you need them and you expect the interactions with the brand you choose to be confident and fill you with an excitement or a reassurance that you have made the right choice. This is something that we can never stop pushing on and developing, it goes hand in hand with the beautiful design and technical quality of our products to create an experience that people choose over others.
Over the past year, we have been undertaking a large operational design and CRM project in the UK named ‘Project Flywheel’, designed to create a more agile and customer centric business. Core to this activity is the implementation of Salesforce, a new CRM system. The system is a major investment for the group, which enables us to offer a more consistent and dedicated service by customer. Instead of teams being split by enquiry type, which can often result in customers potentially speaking with up to three different people on one call, teams are now split by customer, so most things can be handled in one call with one contact. This is a real step change in our processes, which will make us an even better company to work with. You also, can’t ignore the accelerated trends as a result of the global pandemic that we are all experiencing. Hygiene is high on the agenda and will remain so. Touchfree and Speech Driven technologies were already growing trends, as clearly identified in a whitepaper we developed last year “Creating better washrooms”. The importance of these technologies have only been further emphasised by events of recent months. As a business this is an area in which we have significant experience and with new product introductions like Intellimix, a touchfree tap solution which delivers both water and soap, we are able to deliver an exceptional hygienic experience building on our already strong track record in this area of technology.
In this pandemic (and post-pandemic) times, which are the key actions planned for the near future?
Ideal Standard’s Design Collection - Atelier, created in collaboration with Palomba Serafini Associati - will be launched in the UK this year.
The launch will really elevate the Ideal Standard brand and inspire the design community.
The partnership draws on our strong design heritage and takes previous iconic products. The range is on display in our Design and Specification Centre in Clerkenwell, London, with fantastic window visuals in the heart of the A & D community.
The UK has the most active internet users across Europe, a feature of the way we live and work that the pandemic and lockdown period has accelerated, meaning online shopping and different services have seen an even stronger adoption rate. As a UK business, this is a key area of investment both to inspire and influence when a customer is researching their purchase and to transact a sale on or offline.
Specification is also always at the centre of activities in the UK and this will not change, we aim to continually improve the services we provide, reducing estimating time, offering excellent design and digital support as well as developing new solutions for the changing demands of construction like the increased use of modern methods of construction in the new build and high rise arenas. With components being manufactured and assembled in factories, they arrive onsite ready for installation, resulting in fewer skilled trades being needed onsite, greater capacity and reduced costs.
Throughout the pandemic, the UK business continued to be very active, our teams showed great agility and inventiveness, delivering solutions for the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, to support the existing hospital estates and the pop-up healthcare solutions including the 9000 bed Nightingale hospitals. We are hugely proud of how we have been able to contribute to fighting COVID-19. As a team, we have experienced lots of different adversity over the years and without question we are always strong and pull together - truly together for better.
Looking ahead, what is your general vision for the future of Ideal Standard UK?
A company re-connecting to its roots of design and expertise to create a new generation of solutions that consumers desire in their homes and professionals depend upon to make their project a success. It’s an exciting future, one that the UK team is fully focused on realising
Hygienic innovation and bacterial prevention. Details that make the difference
A recent report by the UK House of Commons on "Reducing Health Care Infections in Hospitals in England" found that 300,000 people contract an infection each year after a hospital visit, while the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene (IFH) states that sanitary areas are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. From this starting point Armitage Shanks has developed the Markwik 21+ faucet and the Contour 21+ washbasin.
Markwik 21+ and Contour 21+ Clinical Solutions
Markwik 21+ and Contour 21+ address pooling and water stagnation, reducing splashing and the amount of static water in the system, working with materials that limit the opportunity for bacteria to feed, and also providing a flexible maintenance system for cleansing fixtures and fittings.
Markwik 21+ has two thermal rinse functions allowing for manual hot water cleaning, along with an automatic version, which ensures the electronic fittings used irregularly are washed every 24hrs. A “hydro-purge” system flushes water through the full system, ensuring this is debris free after installation.
The detachable spouts and body components allow for complete immersion and disinfection. The Contour 21+ ceramics range works perfectly in combination with the fittings. Avoiding splashing and the amount of static water in the system, thus limiting the possibility of feeding bacteria. The range includes integrated SmartGuard + antimicrobial technology, an ultra-smooth glaze that makes it more difficult for bacteria to cling to the surface. The Contour 21+ basin ensures instant, vertical water drainage thanks to a smooth pipe system, with no steps or suspension points.
The elegant and comprehensive Sphero urinal range has been designed with features which allow for greater levels of cleanliness, easier installation and maintenance, as well as water saving benefits for all commercial spaces.
The range comprises of three different sized urinals, Mini, Midi and Maxi, with multiple installation options, all which complement the modern washroom. The electronic Maxi e-hybrid model has built in smart technology which detects levels of salinity, optimising the water usage by adjusting flushing according to usage. Another key feature of the electronic models is the innovative spreader light which senses blockages and other maintenance issues.
Sphero’s unique circular concave shape has been designed to minimise splashing while also improving durability and efficiency of the urinals. The new rimless design adheres to contemporary trends, as well as helping to retain liquids within the bowl, aiding hygiene and cleaning regimes. Easy to specify, the Sphero range comes with all the key components expected from a urinal, under one product code. Its pioneering spreader nozzle delivers a hygienic flush which covers most of the urinal bowl. The top fixed waste feature allows for quick and easy access when using the supplied service key, making for effortless on-wall maintenance.