The market of faucet and showerhead is growing steadily as rapid urbanisation, expansion of the housing sector and improved economic conditions have led to increasing demand for the sanitary essentials.
Industry insiders say the water tap market has crossed the Tk1,500 crore mark with a yearly growth of 15%. However, the majority of this market is dominated by foreign brands as currently there are no major local brands manufacturing these items except for the RFL Group. As a result, substandard products are taking a piece of the pie.
Some 50 companies manufacture plastic, steel and metal faucets and showerheads in Bangladesh, traders say. Products of these companies include bib cock water taps, showers, water closet commodes, basin taps and squat toilet taps.
When it comes to modern apartments or expensive hotels and resorts, the sanitary essentials are imported from Italy, Germany, Korea, India, Thailand, China and Taiwan. Cheaper and substandard products are also imported from China. Overall, more than 50% of the total sanitary fittings sold in the country are foreign products.
Hazi Md Shahid Ullah, president of Bangladesh Sanitary Ware Merchants Association, said, "Faucets produced by local companies are used in regular homes, business firms and religious institutions. The affluent, however, prefer foreign faucets as they look for beautiful designs and durability."
Md Kamal Uddin, proprietor of Russel Sanitary in Hatirpul, Dhaka, said that the demand for faucets has increased rapidly due to development projects including building construction in recent years.
"The production of quality products in the country is very low. Consumers mostly look for foreign products," he said.
Kamal Uddin also said they need to source foreign products as the customers want a variety of designs including faucets shaped like apples, giraffe neck and coiled snake.
Currently, there are no major local companies which manufacture faucets. In the local faucet market, Sharif Metal is the first company, which started operation back in 1973. The company produces more than 30 types of faucets and its market share is slightly below 10%.
Sabbir Ahmed, a marketing manager of Sharif Metal said, "Almost all our products are world class and are made of metal. Although there is a plan to expand the business, we cannot compete with foreign products."
Other local brands operating in the faucet market include Sattar, Remac, Habib and Najma Metal. Among the big brands PRAN-RFL has been in the industry since 2013. They started with manufacturing only plastic faucets but now are producing metal faucets too.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director (Marketing) of PRAN-RFL Group said, "We are manufacturing RFL bathroom fittings with metal and shine faucets with plastic material. Our Shine sanitary ware is exported to 10 countries including India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal."
Quality and price
The price of the faucet depends on the design and shape, said Saidul Alam, owner of Alam Trade International located in Dhaka's Kawran Bazar.
"Water taps of local companies range from Tk20 to Tk500 depending on the quality while the price of foreign taps ranges from Tk500 to Tk5,000. Sensor-operated foreign taps are priced between Tk7,000 and Tk20,000," he said, adding, "Faucet sets are sold for Tk7,000 to Tk45,000."
Buying the ideal faucet
"Most of the water faucets and showerheads available in the country market are of average quality. Water faucets, which are made with low-quality materials and outdated technology, rust quickly and the electroplating wears out, disrupting the flow of water," said Hazi Md Shahid Ullah.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, a faulty faucet leaking one drop per second wastes about 3,000 gallons of water a year, enough to take about 180 showers. Opting for a good faucet would be the ideal as it prevents water wastage other than elevating the look of the washroom.