Behind the scenes of Fibo’s HQ
PBM was recently invited on a merchant trip to Norway by wall panel supplier Fibo to visit its factory and learn more about the company. Kelly Newstead reports.
Nestled in the Fjords of Norway (think Disney’s Frozen…), surrounded by rolling hills and glistening lakes which stretch on for miles, lies Fibo’s HQ. Located in the municipality of Lyngdal, southern Norway, it’s hard to believe that this picturesque backdrop could possibly be a place of work as it is so far removed from the traditional industrial estate many in the UK are so familiar with.
Established in 1952, Fibo describes itself as the European market leader in wall panels. The company moved to its current location in 2007 and expanded the premises in 2016/17, investing 15 million euros in new equipment and extending the factory. This has allowed the company to increase its production capacity as well as introduce new systems and technologies to help improve the efficiency and quality of its wall panels.
The company recently hosted a merchant trip, inviting representatives from selected merchant companies to visit its factory in Norway. The trip was designed to provide merchants with valuable insight into how its wall panels are made, the company culture as well as how its products should be displayed in the merchant environment.
Not only does Fibo champion its wall panels as an easy alternative to tiles, in terms of installation and upkeep, it also places importance on the way the panels should be displayed in merchant branches and showrooms. This was something that was addressed on the trip, as it scheduled in time to visit various showrooms within Norway to see exactly how the panels were displayed.
Not only did this allow attendees on the trip to see the differences between how Fibo products were displayed in Norway compared to that of the UK, but also the different products that are only available to the Norwegian market.
Paul Conboy, Director at Beers Timber & Building Supplies, who attended the trip, explained this benefit: “It was of interest to see what the Norway Home market stocked and sold against what the UK traditionally sells, especially in the colour ranges. It was also good to hear that Fibo are forward-thinking and are always looking at improvements to stock profiles and new products that they can bring to market.”
This was something that was also highlighted on the visit, as Fibo is constantly developing and delivering new products. For example, those on the trip were able to see the latest marble range, as well as its new suite of accessories.
Scott Beattie, Managing Director of Fibo UK, explained: “The recent additions are included in our Scandinavian and Contemporary Tile Effect Collections, and in our Signature Collection.
“It’s important we support our stockist customers with stand-out products and a wide range to help them sell. Our latest panel designs mean builders and installers now have more choice and more opportunities to transform walls — and their projects — with stylish, durable panels. Whether it’s for home improvements, community projects such as schools, or professional settings such as offices, restaurants and hotels, our panel collections help create smart, practical interiors that stay looking good for many years.”
So what are the additional benefits of a trip such as this? For one, it’s an excellent opportunity for merchants to see exactly where the products they are stocking come from, as well as the entire manufacturing process of those products.
This was done by providing the merchants on the trip with a factory tour, enabling them to learn about the production and distribution process. This not only affords merchants with background knowledge that they can pass on to their customers, but also build upon their business relationship with the supplier.
Bill Davies, Sales Director at James Hargreaves, an attendee on the trip, commented: “The factory is very modern with quality checks at every stage. It was also clear to see, and as the Manager told us, that investment is still ongoing. This in part is to improve the rate of product, improve the product and its traceability should there ever be a quality issue, and to aid the ability to carry more stock.”
Scott added: “The merchant industry has always been about people and partnerships, and trips like this help build long-standing relationships. Customers and stockists get to see a different side to their suppliers — the substance behind the surface.
“Our factory expansion at our Norway HQ was a big moment for Fibo. We invested a significant amount in the new facilities, which increased capacity and improved manufacturing efficiency by over 50%. Taking customers to see it all was an opportunity to give them a first-hand insight in to how our products — their stock — are manufactured, and the care we put in at each stage of the production process, through to supporting them with sales and training.”
To discover more about Fibo’s range of wall panels, click here.
Written by Professional Builders Merchant magazine and originally published in the July/August issue.