The Innovator – Edward Smith

Edward Smith, Managing Director of Caesarstone UK, explains that avoiding temporary trends and instead creating timeless designs is key to remaining a pioneer in the industry 

How important is innovation when it comes to kitchen designs? 

At Caesarstone we always aim to stay ahead of the design curve and, as a company, tend to set trends rather than follow them. This stems from our considerable investment into R&D, where we explore emerging design themes – often 5+ years ahead – as well as design and manufacturing technologies and new materials, such as porcelain.  

This approach is one that Caesarstone adopted right from the start, when the company pioneered the premium engineered stone market in 1987. We avoid temporary trends, striving instead to create timeless designs that will be loved in the home for generations. Innovation lies at the heart of our brand philosophy and we have some pioneering products launching this year, which we are extremely proud of. These new launches represent a new chapter for the Caesarstone brand, showcasing our latest unparalleled, cutting-edge technology and design prowess. Caesarstone continues to set the standard for design and material innovation within the contemporary interiors sector and we are proud to have earned the trust of our consumers and to be a point of authority in this marketplace.  

As well as innovating in design and manufacturing, we are continually assessing our service models too, in order to ensure that we are providing the very best offering to the housebuilder and developer market. The stone industry can be quite antiquated in its operation, and less well suited to contemporary markets in which we operate. Providing the very best service is just as vital as providing the very best products. As the global surfaces industry changes with new materials, new manufacturing locations and methods, and, not least, stricter environmental legislation, we find ourselves increasingly offering a one stop shop to housebuilders as they try to navigate this sometimes-cloudy industry.     

What processes or initiatives does the team use to foster innovation within the company? 

We have invested in our team over the years and are in a strong position to continue growing and innovating. Since Caesarstone launched in the UK in 2017, I have watched the brand grow from strength to strength and consider it a real privilege to now be a part of such a strong, connected team.  

We have recently adopted a new customer survey to track feedback and mindfully make changes where needed. Every part of the customer journey is vital to us, and we are continuously looking for ways to improve each touchpoint of this.  

Furthermore, we are in the market all the time, listening, learning and innovating based on what we see and hear from our customer base. My previous experience in the kitchen and construction industry allows me to readily get to grip with the businesses we work with and I will personally sit with customers three or four times a week to gather feedback, understand pain points, and find solutions.  

What role does sustainability play in your approach to innovation within the kitchen design and manufacturing industry? 

Sustainability is at the heart of our brand ethos at Caesarstone. In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in customers’ needs and demands reflecting a growing awareness of sustainability. Sustainability has become a paramount consideration and we’ve seen an increasing interest in eco-friendly materials and practices in the kitchen. Of course, there is always room for improvement, however, I am extremely proud of the direction the brand is heading. My background is in environmental biology, so this is a topic that is especially close to my heart. I wanted to work with an authentic brand with legitimate credentials and one that is on a journey towards more sustainable practices.   

How do you stay abreast of emerging trends and technologies in kitchen design and manufacturing? 

Getting out into the market and meeting the people we do business with is a hugely important part of my week. The feedback I receive from our customers is helping to shape the future of Caesarstone and ensure we are meeting their needs now and in the future.  

I love meeting with people in all areas of the kitchen industry, to gain insights on the latest advances in design and manufacturing. We want to have as many eyes and ears on the ground to ensure we are always meeting the needs of our consumers and advancing above our competitors.  

Can you describe any challenges or obstacles your company has faced when trying to innovate in the kitchen sector, and how you’ve overcome them? 

For us, it comes down to the lack of transparency within the stone industry as a whole. With so many options to choose from, alongside an abundance of misinformation, it is almost impossible for consumers to make an informed choice. It can be very difficult to distinguish where materials come from, how they’re extracted, and the environmental footprint they leave behind and much of the information in the market is incorrect. For a housebuilder delivering 1,000 dwellings a year, most of which will have an engineered stone worktop, it can be a minefield. Furthermore, the market is ever-changing and keeping abreast of new developments and legislative changes add further complexities when specifying engineered stone.  

At Caesarstone we recognise the lack of transparency within the industry and are constantly striving to provide greater clarity as a whole. We always strive to be as transparent as we can be about our own products and ensuring the information required by specifiers and housebuilders is readily available across our website and via our sales and customer service teams.  

Additionally, it stands to reason that if architects, designers, or project managers don’t know where or how products are made, or which standards those products meet, but are still specifying them anyway, it follows that environmental considerations are not on their agenda. The market is awash with engineered stones of vastly varied quality – aesthetically and technically – and the danger is that most people in the market assume that they are all the same, which is simply not true. At Caesarstone we are taking genuine steps towards better environmental and sustainable practices details of which can easily be found on our website.  

How do you measure the success and impact of your innovative initiatives within the kitchen design/manufacturing sector? 

Our customers are at the heart of our brand, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve their experience. We enjoy working in partnership with our customers and collaborating with them to achieve common goals. When we create these partnerships, we are always in it for the long-term to work together and assure our mutual success.  

As a company, we are proud to be in millions of homes globally and want to make sure that working with Caesarstone is an easy and enjoyable experience for both our direct customers and end-consumers. To ensure this, our on-the-road sales team is constantly checking in with our customers and gaining feedback at every touchpoint. We also have a UK-based customer service team available to answer questions, give guidance and provide support should any issues arise. For me, success comes from great communication and brand authenticity, and I am extremely proud of the direction Caesarstone is heading. Our customers can testify to this — and I am excited for what 2024 will continue to bring. 

Looking ahead, what do you envision as the next big kitchen trend, and how is Caesarstone preparing for it? 

Sustainability is always at the forefront of kitchen trends. Consumers want to do their part and use brands that are transparent about their impact on the planet and committed to always improving it. We delivered our first Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) report in 2020 and recently released our first ESG Progress Report for 2021-2022, providing a comprehensive overview of our efforts and showcasing the evolution since the inaugural report. Our Lifetime Warranty also testifies to our ongoing commitment towards sustainable practices.  

Within the construction industry, there are probably few areas undergoing as dynamic a change as the surfaces sector. And it can be hard to dig through the weeds to understand the best routes forward. We are aiming to help companies do just that, by providing premium products, that meet both the environmental needs of the housing sector, as well as the necessary service levels.  

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Media Contact
Joseph Clarke
Editor, Showhome
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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