SELLING bathroom supplies is turning into big business for the Gold Coast’s Sinclair family. Wholesaler and retailer Highgrove Bathrooms has expanded from one store in 2004 to 31 outlets today in Queensland, Victoria, NSW, ACT and South Australia. The company, run by Lindsay Sinclair and his two sons, directors James and Wes, imports 70 container loads of supplies each year, which it distributes from warehouses in Molendinar and Melbourne. In the last six months, Highgrove stores sold more than 5000 baths and 50,000 units of tapware.
The company’s origins lay in Lindsay Sinclair’s move from Victoria, where he had a timber and hardware store, to the Gold Coast in the mid-1990s. After running a few different businesses, Lindsay launched Highgrove in 2004 as a wholesale bathroom supplies operation from a 150sqm shed in Southport. The business quickly expanded into 2000sqm premises, which doubled as a retail outlet, in Ashmore the following year. James, who joined the company in 2007 and oversees the retail operation as well as finance and accounting, said after two years there was an opportunity for further expansion.
“The Gold Coast store had become very busy and well-known and was doing great trade,” he said. “We were looking at expanding into other markets and in 2007 we opened our second store in Brisbane.” Between 2007 and 2011 the company expanded into Victoria, NSW and South Australia and opened additional outlets in Queensland. James said the company’s operating model, whereby it enters into a joint venture with owner-managers at each store, while retaining a controlling interest, had helped the rapid expansion. James said business did not slow during, and in the aftermath, of the Global Financial Crisis. “Our main market is people renovating and when property prices fell through the floor, everyone started spending a lot more money on where they were living rather than buying somewhere else.”
Wes, who oversees buying, ordering and product research and development, said staying on top of trends has become of paramount importance. Wes said they worked closely with their manufacturers in China to design bathroom products suited to the middle market and are conscious of not importing products that are “gimmicks” and will become quickly outdated. He said the scale of the business, which had revenue of more than $60 million in FY17, meant they could order products designed to their specifications. Highgrove now operates on the Gold Coast out of 6000sqm of warehouse space on the corner of Enterprise St and Industrial Avenue.