What to look for when selecting a specialist ceramic tile distribution partner

By Steve Whitehurst, Marketing and Sales Director at Craven Dunnill

The market for ceramic tiles has significantly changed over the last few decades. The variety of product now available is astounding in terms of available formats, textural effects and styles of the product.  Specifiers and consumers are more enlightened than ever on the endless possibilities that ceramics can offer.  Either through house style magazines or the architectural journals consumers are more exposed to the versatility that ceramics can offer both aesthetically in terms of appearance and technically from a performance perspective. The more people have become exposed to tiles and designer porcelain ceramics, either in stunning architectural new buildings or from global travel, hence more consumers and specifiers are wishing to use these materials in their own homes and projects.

The Craven Dunnill Group is a specialist ceramic tile manufacturer and distributor which have both the history and pedigree to be the perfect partner when considering fine quality tiles. The following key criteria define the main attributes and factors which set Craven Dunnill apart from the rest.

Product – ease of access to the latest ceramic tiles and the ability to see the best selection of tiles available from the world’s best manufacturers.

Bespoke Manufacturing – the ability to manufacture bespoke wall or floor tiles for specialist projects for either restoration or new build projects.

Location and Distribution Logistics – the ability to procure the material within a reasonable period and have it delivered accurately and safely.

Showroom – to be able to visit an accessible location with ease of parking and view the best selection of tiles within a relaxing and comfortable environment with trained experts on hand to discuss your specific requirements and needs.

Fitness for purpose – the assurance that the products selected are fit for purpose and the right product for the application intended.

Quality – an ethos for quality throughout the complete organisation embracing product quality, customer service and logistics


The Craven Dunnill Group of companies stocks one of the widest selections of ceramic wall and floor tiles from the leading manufacturers around the world.  The vast range incorporates the most comprehensive range of porcelain floor tiles, decorative wall tiles and mosaics with a strong emphasis on choice, style and quality.

New ranges are introduced all the time to keep abreast of the latest technological advancements and style trends.  By working with the world class ceramic tile producers, the company is able to offer the most current products manufactured with the latest tile production techniques and equipment to the highest standards of quality.

The portfolio of products under the Renaissance house brand encompasses all the tiles you would need for any kind of application: from domestic interiors to large external murals and facades, and domestic bathrooms and wetrooms to commercial Olympic swimming pools and sports stadiums.

Extending beyond tiles Craven Dunnill has a full menu of products to complete a tiling project required for a tiling installation including background preparation materials, installation adhesives and grouts and ancillary trims and finishing products.


Bespoke Manufacturing
Craven Dunnill first started tile manufacturing back in 1872 at the Jackfield Tile Works in Ironbridge near Telford, Shropshire.  Much has changed over the years in terms of the ceramic tile market and manufacturing technology.  However, there is still a place in the market for traditional hand-made ceramic wall and floor tiles for restoration and heritage new build projects. With two dedicated specialist manufacturing sites, one in Ironbridge, Shropshire and one in Burslem in the heart of the Potteries, Jackfield has a unique team of highly skilled craftsmen and women making cutting edge specialist ceramics.

Craven Dunnill Jackfield produces authentic encaustic tiles, geometric tiles, decorative wall tiles, fittings and murals predominantly for restoration projects but increasingly bespoke products are being commissioned for the general interiors market, as architects and designers understand the unique capabilities of the factory.


Projects examples
Palace of Westminster  – Encaustic tile restoration for the Royal Gallery, St Stephens Hall, Lower Waiting Hall and Central Lobby.

St Georges Hall, Liverpool – Encaustic roundel in the main hall the first phase of a major restoration project.

Leeds Central Library – restoration of the decorative embossed field tiles, dado fittings and vented ceiling tiles.

Blues Kitchen, Shoreditch and Brixton – stylish refurbishment of a designer pub with a Victorian inspired faience ceramic fronted bar.

Location and Distribution Logistics
Craven Dunnill operates from a centralised warehouse on a four acre site in Bridgnorth where the company has easy access to the main motorway networks.  With an extensive fleet of modern distribution vehicles, the company prides itself on its personalised delivery service.   With our customers in mind we have invested heavily in a new GPS traffic management system which has been installed in all the vehicles within the fleet.  The system has enabled the company to plan routes more effectively and avoid any traffic hotspots caused by congestion and road incidents.  The end result has been more fuel efficient routes and improved service to our end customers and a more environmentally friendly approach.

Craven Dunnill never ceases to uphold its core values and strict principles of continuous improvement, investment in warehousing and customer service. The company is relentless in its pursuit of excellence in distribution giving unrivalled customer satisfaction to its long established network of tile shops, builders merchants, tile fixers, bathroom and kitchen retailers.


With an emphasis on displaying tiles in real life fixed displays the showroom has over 105 room settings for all kinds of domestic and commercial interiors.  Apart from the room settings tiles from the portfolio consisting of over 10,000 product lines are displayed on wall and floor clapper units and dedicated range stands. In total there are over 530 fixed display panels of which 350 are for wall tiles and 180 are for floor tiles.

The settings accurately include movement joints, finishing trims and profiles, while the wet room settings include stainless steel linear drains and outlets.  Some of the bathroom settings feature curved walls and pre-formed shower trays constructed from moisture resistant backer boards with an emphasis on fitness for purpose and illustrating the right materials for the suggested application.

The showroom is manned by a team of experienced product advisors fully equipped with the skills to talk confidently about the selection and application of glazed wall and porcelain floor tiles plus all the materials required to satisfactorily complete a tiled installation.

Advances in tile manufacturing technology has drastically increased the variety of ceramics on offer and the Craven Dunnill mission is to constantly source the latest design styles and tile formats.  To facilitate this ‘explosion’ in variety of choice and size we have extended our main showroom to incorporate an area dedicated to large format porcelain tiles, plain colour wall tiles and swimming pool ceramics suitable for the commercial interiors market.  The new area is a resource library for all our customers to use and is a showcase for best in class that the ceramic tile producers of the world can offer.  750 x 750mm, 800 x 800mm, 900 x 900mm, 1,200 x 600mm and 1,200 x 1,200mm are just a few of the new large formats that are on view and can be seen in the new ‘extra choice’ area.

The Showroom is visited by specifiers and consumers from all over the country.


Fitness for Purpose
Having found the tile range you were looking for from a specialist distributor, like Craven Dunnill, the next important task is to ensure that tiles you intend to use are fit for purpose.  So working with a distribution partner with a wealth of experience in product performance and the technical issues associated with ceramic wall and porcelain floor tiles is essential.

With a long established knowledge in tile manufacturing and product performance, Craven Dunnill is best placed to provide the consumer or specifier with the all the information they need to ensure the products selected are correct for the intended installation.  With an in- depth knowledge of a wide variety of specification disciplines including: installation, slip resistance, frost resistance, cleaning and maintenance, you can be assured of working with a partner that understands tiles.

Craven Dunnill is an active member of the national body representing the ceramic tile industry The Tile Association (TTA) and has representation on the UK Slip Resistance Group and tiling standards drafting BSI B539 committee.


Quality Credentials and Awards
Craven Dunnill is committed to quality and operates a Quality Management System which complies with the requirements of BS EN ISO 9001:2008 audited by BSI.

The same rigorous system is applied to the sourcing of the product.  Only those factories with an exceptional reputation for quality, consistency of manufacture, environmental consideration and customer service excellence are chosen to become suppliers to Craven Dunnill.

Over the years the company has been recognised for its excellence in many different disciplines.

Craven Dunnill has been awarded nineteen TTA (The Tile Association) awards in 11 years since the awards were started and have won the Floor Tile of the Year five times in the last six consecutive years.

2005 – Excellence in Distribution
2006 – Best use of tile in a Housing Contract: Singleton Hall
2007 – Best use of tile in a Domestic Environment: St Martins Church, Tipton
2008 – Best use of tile in a Large Construction Contract; Leeds Central Library
2008 – Best use of tile in a Housing Development; Glyn Garth Court
2009 – Best use of tile in the Leisure Industry for Lions Quay Leisure Centre, Oswestry
2011 – Best use of tile in a Large Contract for Cathedral of St Marys, Newcastle
2011 – Floor Tile of the Year for the Natural Stone range.
2012 – Floor Tile of the Year for the Slaty range.
2012 – Excellence in Manufacturing – Craven Dunnill Jackfield
2013 – Best use of tile in a Commercial Contract – William Brookes School, Much Wenlock
2014 – Excellence in Manufacturing – Craven Dunnill Jackfield
2014 – Employee of the Year – Chris Cox of Craven Dunnill Jackfield
2014 – Floor Tile of the Year – for the Timberlux range.
2015 – Floor Tile of the Year – for the Fusion range
2015 – Best use of Tile in a Domestic Environment – The Old Vicarage Wedding Mural
2016 – Floor Tile of the Year  – for the Firestone range.
2016 – Excellence in Distribution
2016 – Best use of tile in the Leisure and Hospitality Industry – Blues Kitchen

‘One stop shop’ Distribution Partner
The Craven Dunnill Group offers a complete service with a one stop shop approach for all your domestic and commercial tile needs.

Craven Dunnill & Co Ltd
Stourbridge Road
Shropshire   WV15 6AS  UK
T: 01746 761611
E: sales@cravendunnill.co.uk
W: www.cravendunnill.co.uk