Tile City pumps $100m into expansion

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Tile City Home Centre embarked on a $100 million green expansion to build what it described as the largest showroom of Kohler products in the hemisphere.

It's even bigger than any showroom in the US, said Tile City director Victor Handal on Wednesday while taking the Observer on tour of the ongoing construction expected to finish for Christmas.

The 5,000 sq ft Kohler showroom will link to the existing 20,000 sq ft building. Its twice what the US based manufacturer required, Handal added.

"It is going to be the largest Kohler showroom in the hemisphere," he said. "Amazing right. So you will go into stores in the [US] there is a mix of products. But this is going to be the largest Kohler showroom."

Any showroom that is larger in absolute size in the Americas contains other brands apart from Kohler for sale, he said.

He added that a 100,000 sq ft Kohler showroom exists in China but none exists in this hemisphere, he said.

The local showroom will sell the full range of Kohler bath and kitchen products, even high-end "$670,000 toilets", he said.

The showroom will contain some $13 million worth of Kohler stock and some $30 million worth of solar panels spanning the length of the roof.

"So we are making this building as green as possible," he reasoned. "[It will] be totally off the grid."

Tile City became the exclusive distributor of Kohler products last year. Its Kingston Constant Spring branch will retail the product with distribution at its St Catherine, Ferry location. It also expects resellers to set up smaller showrooms at 1,500 sq ft in size across the country.

"Its a hell of a push, a hell of an expansion, and its all for one brand," he said.

The Observer could not immediately verify the claim of largest showroom in the region. Nonetheless, the investment signals faith in consumer demand during an austere economy.

"My approach to this is that if you not moving forward then you are stagnant and everybody else not staying still. In a recession I have two options go against the flow or down the river," he later added. "We have been at it for over a year and had couple decent sized clients, including resorts and homes. The business is there."

The complex started construction in February. Tile City distributes Kohler, Moen and Mansfield products.

Last year at the distributorship launch a Kohler regional manager stated that Tile City stocked a large inventory of high-end products that many other suppliers only offered through special orders.

Tile City was founded in 1999 and currently has two showrooms, one in Kingston and one in St Catherine. The company originally sold tiles, but in 2005, expanded through a partnership with the Do It Best Corp, a major US hardware company.




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