Sarah Beeny’s Rise Hall restoration has fringe benefits for Granite Transformations’ franchisees
As part of its brand support activity, Granite Transformations works on occasion with television programme makers, from ITV’s 60 Minute Makeover and BBC1’s DIY SOS, to Channel 4’s Big Brother and its latest property show You Deserve This House, fronted by Amanda Lamb.
The company’s quarter-inch thick agglomerate material is engineered to fit over existing surfaces and looks superb, so is perfect for the ‘instant’ makeovers featured on TV, while its skilled head office fitters are thoroughly familiar with adhering to tight filming schedules.
Undoubtedly its most fruitful partnership, albeit on a purely informal basis, is with TV property queen, Sarah Beeny, and her artist husband, Graham Swift. Given understandable limitations on product placement, the scope for free TV brand exposure is minimal, but the company says the association pays off in other directions, all to the benefit of its franchise owners.
“Sarah is a skilled interior designer and Graham is a talented artist with a broad understanding of the principles of colour, so they take our product in exciting new directions and extend the applications beyond kitchen makeovers,” says chief operating officer, Danny Hanlon (right). “In their hands, it becomes a whole palette of interior finishes, from classy to eclectic, as indeed it does with other professional designers and architects.”
One notable installation featured in the first series of Sarah Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare and still a talking point for visitors to Rise Hall, is the emerald green bathroom serving the Tepilo Suite. It showcases Granite Transformations’ Dream Green glass agglomerate, which satisfies Sarah’s ‘green’ ethos on both counts, the dramatic colour and the high recycled content.
Having discovered from Danny that the agglomerate backing could be shaved away to produce a translucent surface, she commissioned backlit Dream Green bath panels that allow fluorescent lighting to filter through and create an eyecatching, bejewelled appearance.
“That was an inspired idea and one customer requested exactly the same design for his own bathroom,” says Danny. “It’s not to everyone’s taste, but if customers see the bathroom on the website or a showcard, they ask about the material and look at a sample – then probably opt for cream or white!”
More to everyone’s taste perhaps is the refined Palm Desert quartz panelling, chosen by Sarah and Graham for the main bridal suite. A subtle mix of oatmeal and warm golden brown with flecks of white, grey and black, this surface exudes restrained elegance and Sarah used it to excellent effect for panelling a corner bath, creating stylish surrounds for his’n’her wash basins and boxing in a toilet and adjacent storage units. The look is ‘modern boutique hotel’, which is sure to inspire customers when planning their own bathrooms – and franchise owners when consulting on commercial contracts.
“Sarah and Graham kindly allow us to take photographs at Rise Hall and, although this is naturally more restricting than studio sets, it provides excellent shots of real-life installations,” says Danny. “They also approve PR stories for the trade and consumer press, so our franchisees get the benefit from the resultant publicity. You’d be amazed just how appealing Sarah is to picture editors!”
Sarah and Graham were particularly excited about the large slab sizes and water-resistant properties of Granite Transformations’ agglomerate materials, which they exploited in a number of bath and shower rooms. “We found the sheet slab sizes brilliant, as the fewer grout lines there are, the better a bathroom wears and the longer it takes to look manky,” says Sarah.
Most visually dramatic is the Pennine Suite’s shower, which is clad entirely in Black Star recycled glass, creating a virtually seamless finish that is impermeable to water. Floor tiles, made from the same material and laid on moisture-resistant, dimensionally stable board, complete the imposing ‘night sky’ look and highlight the product’s different decorative applications.
An adjoining shower room finished in granite Rosso Alpi, with its mix of rose pink, brick red, terracotta, deep brown and downy white, provides a complete colour contrast and again illustrates the material’s hardwearing and non-porous technical characteristics. While for the TV show’s second series, Mocha Real from the same granite range was used for complete wall and floor cladding in the Farndale bathroom, exploring yet another décor direction.
Nor does Granite Transformations’ involvement with the Rise Hall restoration end there. After using these luxurious agglomerates to transform at least eight separate interiors, Sarah and Graham are currently talking with Danny about fitting out a further four bathrooms and, perhaps most intriguing of all, transforming cloakrooms in the large former Gymnasium, which will be used for wedding receptions and other events.
“Our relationship with Sarah Beeny benefits both parties, I’m sure. They get access to our whole portfolio of agglomerates and use them on a project where recladding and refinishing are critical, because they don’t want to rip the existing structure apart, yet want the rooms to look totally beautiful,” says Danny. “As a brand, we are also associated with kitchen makeovers, so it’s good for our product to be used in other contexts. Rise Hall additionally acts as a high profile reference site when our franchise owners are talking to architects, interior designers and commercial property developers.”
Effective marketing support is one of the benefits of being a franchise owner, since few independent businesses can come close to the marketing power of well-established franchising organisations. But it’s not just about spending on TV and press advertising.
As Granite Transformations ably demonstrates, there is more to the marketing mix than that; it’s also about public relations, point of sale, promotions and seizing upon opportunities to project the product to best effect. Working with TV’s property guru on a whole series of makeover jobs provides just such an opportunity.
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