Bathroom and kitchen specialist B.S.C. Group celebrates a special birthday this year. Tamsin Bradshaw speaks to Chairman and Managing Director William Lau about the group’s heritage, and his plans for the next 45 years.
In 1970, William Lau had a vision: he wanted to change Hong Kong’s attitude to bathrooms and kitchens, and to “enhance the way people lived,” he says. So he established B.S.C. Group with just 10 employees. Today, 45 years later, over a thousand people work for the group; it caters to hotels and developers, as well as to the individual through its 20,000-square-foot lifestyle concept store, colourliving.
Clearly the group has gone from strength to strength, expanding beyond bathrooms and kitchens to building materials and furniture with brands like Fritz Hansen, bringing Hong Kong the latest technology, trends and designs on the international market. Lau tells us what’s in store for the future.
What inspired you to found B.S.C. Group?
I was in charge of the home improvements division of a public property company. In 1970, the board decided to close it because it was too small. I thought this was a golden opportunity to build a business that went beyond mere home improvements, and actually enhanced the way people lived. I was able to take over the company and set it on a new path as B.S.C.
When you first established B.S.C. Group in 1970, what was your vision for where it would go? Has it changed a lot in the last 45 years?
When I started B.S.C. in 1970, Hong Kong homeowners spent 100 per cent of their money on their living and dining rooms. Bathrooms would at most have a bathtub and plain tiles… People allocated very little budget for [the kitchen] beyond the bare necessities.
I wanted to change that attitude and I started to search for new concepts in bathroom and kitchen design and fittings. I must have visited almost every exhibition in Europe and America. My vision at that time was to expose Hong Kong people to new ideas and design trends, and of course new technology.
Over the last 45 years, we have been able to reposition the bathroom in people’s minds as a place of relaxation and pleasure, not just a basic utility. We have done the same for kitchens and now create spaces that can be enjoyed by the whole family and that can even be used for entertaining guests and friends. It’s a complete turnaround in thinking.
But we haven’t stopped. At B.S.C. it’s in our DNA to be ahead of the game, and we’re constantly bringing people new ideas in living and new ways to enhance their homes. That will never end.
What are some of the most memorable moments in B.S.C. Group’s history?
The key moment for B.S.C. was the moment I gave up a senior executive position in a public company to start the business. The most challenging period was when Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher stumbled on the steps of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 1982 and the Hong Kong dollar dropped from HK$5 to the US$1 to HK$10!
Why is quality so important to B.S.C. Group?
Quality products help to maintain customer satisfaction. They build loyalty and repeat business. And they also enhance the reputation and status of our brand in the market place.
What’s next for B.S.C. Group? What’s your vision for the next 45 years?
Our vision at B.S.C., our mission if you like, is “enriching human space” – be that a hotel, a home, an office or working environment, a cruise ship or a combination of some, or even all of them.
Any space in which humans gather to live, work, engage with each other, or simply relax is a space we want to enhance, to make it more pleasant, more stimulating, more comfortable and simply more enjoyable. We believe life should be a joyful experience… even going to the bathroom.