Don’t tile it – Multipanel™ it: a new perspective on waterproof interior panels

// the building envelope

HA Magazine hears from Michael Dobson of Edinburgh based manufacturer Grant Westfield, about the company’s radical rebranding exercise.

As a company which can trace its roots right back to 1881 when it was established as a family run shop-fitting specialist – which has grown to become the dominant force in the manufacture of waterproof wall panels, supplying the social housing and other sectors – Grant Westfield appreciates the importance of such attributes as ease of installation, durability, value for money and aesthetic appeal.

Most recently though, the company has made a major investment in rebranding its range in order to make the multiple options more straightforward for customers to specify; as well as to reinforce its identity across the market.

Grant Westfield’s Director of Multipanel, Michael Dobson recounted: “It was in the fifties and sixties when we began getting into the manufacture of systems for washrooms and laboratory furniture; and those markets remain very strong for us today with our doing a lot of business in corporate and educational facilities, while virtually every airport in the country uses our cubicles featuring our patented System M doors which can be opened from the outside in an emergency.

“Then in 2003 we began to manufacture our Multipanel™ product which comprises a plywood core with a high quality laminate face, which is suitable for commercial and domestic applications. Our Classic and Tile Ranges are extremely popular with the major housebuilders as well as main contracts or social housing providers. The White Brick Tile panel is a particular favourite for refurbs, where its 3 mm thickness offers the ability to be bonded directly over existing tiling without encroaching onto baths or basins, and delivering significant cost savings in labour. It is also a very big seller for boat-building and caravan production; as a result of which we have approaching 50 per cent of the waterproof panel market.”

Michael went on to explain the logic behind the company’s new brand architecture, which has made the Multipanel™ Walls range prominent over the subsidiary product ranges such as the Multipanel™ Floor Ranges which boast a high quality vinyl surface specifications, with a quick and easy glue-free installation.

One of the key reasons Multipanel™ has been so successful is its versatility in transforming spaces; something which has been captured with the new ‘M’ logo, comprising of several compatible elements, just like a Multipanel™ bathroom.

The offering now stretches from an economy range right through to luxury effects which earn specifications in top hotels, retail and other high end properties. The latter include the Reflect Range of acrylic panels which emulate the effect of back-coloured glass, and the solid surface Hydrostone vanity tops. Recently the manufacturer has added what is called the Create range: including Photo-Wall, Glow-Wall and Sound-Wall: which enable clients to incorporate their own photographic images, backlighting, or music via Bluetooth.

Since waterproof laminate wall panels first started to appear on the market, both the choice of colours and the visual effects have improved markedly, now offering authentic reproduction of marble, metallic finishes and other effects. As a result Multipanel™ has moved the genre on from being a practical alternative to tiles to being an aspirational one.  

Michael Dobson concluded: “With everything now rebranded as Multipanel™ Walls, Multipanel™ Floors, Multipanel™ Ceilings or MultipanelTM Tile Range etc, it emphasizes the versatility of our product offering: which is also why we have adopted the strapline “Don’t tile it -  Multipanel™ It: to try and change the perception of what you do in a bathroom. Most people including homeowners, tenants and landlords have had enough of cleaning and replacing grout. And with fewer joints there is far less chance of failure.”

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