By Vincent Mariel P. Galang

CEBU Oversea Hardware Co., Inc. (COHCI) recently introduced its latest tile and bathroom collections at the World Building and Construction Exposition (WORLDBEX) 2019.

Established 60 years ago, the Cebu-based hardware construction and finishing materials supplier has been importing tiles for about 20 years.

Its latest tile collection includes Spanish brand Baldocer, which offers big porcelain tiles called B Plus. This collection utilizes inkjet technology that allows it to put on designs on the tiles. This allowed the company to produce tiles that look like real marble, making it a cheaper alternative. These tiles are now available in variants of 80×160 and 120×120 in the Philippines, which makes it easy to transport.

“Since the digital technology came… and we can print on the tiles any design that is suitable. You can print wood, you can print marble, you can print cement, you can print stones. Everything is printed now, so the beauty of the technology now is to be able to produce marbles since they are extremely expensive,” Oscar Vilar, Asian market export director of Baldocer, told reporters during a media briefing.

Tile alternatives such as vinyl have not affected sales for porcelain and ceramic tiles with this technology.

”As of now it doesn’t show because one, the demand for ceramic and porcelain tiles go with the growth in the construction industry, but more especially with the advent of new inkjet technology that has been applied to ceramic and porcelain tile. It was able to get market and substitute for other tiles,” Michael Co, vice president for sales and marketing of COHCI, said in an interview with BusinessWorld.

For instance, the expensive onyx marble can be substituted with porcelain tiles printed with onyx marble texture. One can pay as much as $500 per square meter of onyx marble purchased from quarry, while the porcelain tile can cost 10-20% of the price.

“We are able to imitate exactly that marble, but in tiles to make it affordable,” Mr. Vilar noted. “In Spain, when we destroy a building, those material we bring to the clay factory. What we do is we recycle the old dust… be compressed to [be] used again as a tile.”

The tiles also undergo direct press to make sure that the surface is even.

COHCI also has an in-house brand Luxe, which is a collaboration with Italian designers and some Asian producers. “Most of the designs for Luxe are patterned after Italian designers so we buy the film from Italian suppliers and we put them into production,” Maria Cyrina Pascual, brand development manager of COHCI, said.

Other Spanish brands brought in by the company are Alaplana, Argenta, and Cicogres which are available in different sizes. COHCI also offers brands such as Capucino and Studio.

For the bathroom products, the company introduced a water closet that does not require users to touch it. Instead, a remote control is used, making it more kid-friendly.

“Tile and bath always go together, so after we are able to develop ceramic tiles, we developed Cool Bath System,” Ms. Pascual noted.

The Foss Newton Intelligent Toilet Innovation (INTELLET) feature auto-flush and pre-flush smart features, wireless remote control, heated seat and deodorizer. It can function both through electricity and through battery.

Other bathroom products included in the collection are GlazeProtec toilet series with nano-technology, which prevents bacteria from settling on the equipment, and pristine bathtub and brass fittings.

COHCI introduced its retail channels starting 2002, namely CW Home Depot (Manila), Cebu Home and Builders Centre (Cebu), and Living N’ Style (Manila) which is also its showroom. Tile products come from countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Spain.