Leonard Shanahan of Albany Shanahan Paints combined forces with The Hardware Journal to explore the current trends in the Paint and Home Décor market.
Leonard Shanahan is Managing Director of Shanahan Paints and the current Chairman of the Albany Home Décor Group. Being part of a family business that goes back five generations of painting and decorating is certainly heritage in this business. The most recent manifestation of this lineage dates to the early 1970s when Leonard’s late father Michael opened Shanahan Paints at Clonroadmore in Ennis. Leonard has been at the helm, with his brother Fergus, for over two decades and has seen a lot of change in customer trends, product innovation and market competition in that time.
Overall Leonard is pleased with the market, and the position held within it by Shanahan’s Albany in 2018, much of which he puts down to the Albany/Shanahan’s format as specialist providers. Leonard says that being a specialist paints and décor provider means that they are somewhat shielded from the rigors of the market competition as their customers rely on them for problem solving advice, one-to-one service for interiors and colour advice too.
Interior paint is the biggest selling category in the home décor marketplace with higher performance products driving growth such as washable or scrubbable matts. Leonard explains that customers are looking for a better wearing finish and more durable paints as making the most impact. Matt finish is also gaining in popularity over soft sheen or mid sheen finishes.
Trim paints for timber are another strong marketplace presence, with consumers dedicating more thought and attention to the painting of skirting boards, architraves and even floors, where traditional wood stain might once have proved more popular.
Kitchen unit renovation is also a hot trend feeding nicely into the paint market, with customers opting to refurbish old units ahead of purchasing brand new ones.
Leonard explains how engaging the customer and affording them comfort through familiarity are all key to driving sales. With his store reaping the full benefits of Dulux’s “Store of the Future” installation, the Colour Room and Colour Station provide increasingly design-conscious customers with an interactive experience where customers can collaborate with experts in brushing-out the testers to see the results first-hand, before then mixing or tinting to the customer’s preference. Customers in general are becoming more adventurous, with exterior paints also seeing a bump in bolder colours.
When it comes to wallpaper, TV programmes such as RTE’s “Home of the Year” are a driving factor sustaining sales. Leonard describes the average consumer as becoming a bit more daring in their pattern choice, coinciding with a greater sense of brand consciousness with no shortage of competition among brands.
However, he clarifies that the overall volume of wallpaper sales is stagnating, with consumers focusing more on feature walls (requiring fewer rolls) than the days of old, where an entire room or hallway would be covered.
That said, there has been an upsurge in sales at the highest end and designer end of the market. Big projects such as pubs, hotels and public buildings are utilising wallpaper, but there’s a far lesser impact in the ordinary domestic market. “But wallpaper is getting more exciting”, insists Leonard, with more choice and more invigorating effects and finishes such as glitter, metallic and velvet all capturing the imagination, together with realistic patterns such as brick, natural stone and wood effects all proving popular.
“Customers want to become the trend-setters within their communities”, explains Leonard, “be it among family members or in wider circles of friends and neighbours.”