"The demand for multi-faith facilities in both corporate and public buildings is growing every day," says Nigel Bromilow, MD of the Specialist Washing Company who launched the WuduSeat last December, "There is a jungle of legislation which points to the fact that as a multicultural country, we are going to have to start accommodating Muslim practices."
Aside from the Employment Equality laws, the Race Relations Act of 1976, the Human Rights Act of 1998, Bromilow points out there are also numerous pieces of Health and Safety legislation which suggest that it will most likely become mandatory for workplaces and public buildings to provide facilities like the WuduSeat so Muslims can fully undertake their prayer ritual.
Bromilow says he first realised there was a need for the WuduSeat after carrying out some market research which showed that a number of organisations are already committed to putting in multi-faith facilities. "Most hospitals and airports already provide multi-faith facilities such as prayer rooms, but when it comes to facilities for Muslims to undertake the Wudu ritual – generally they are expected to put their feet in wash basins!"
Made from sanitary-grade acrylic so that it is hardwearing and easy to keep clean, the WuduSeat retails between £400-£700 and the company has already sold 26 of the high-end seats, netting them sales of £18,200.
"We’ve mainly sold them to hospitals, universities, colleges and corporates so far but three of them were shipped to the US and we haven’t even started our overseas push yet.
"There was a case recently over there where a university was sued by one of its Muslim students because it had failed to provide an appropriate washing appliance. There are 4,061 universities in the US. And we’re about to sign a partnership with a distributing company over there so they clearly agree with us – universities and hospitals are the soft underbelly in the US at the moment. "
Bromilow raised £100,000 from business angels last September which he used to secure the design registrations for both the UK and other international markets he’s interested in. "We’re about to launch in the Middle East, particularly in the oil-rich nations, which are a huge potential market," says Bromilow who explains the WuduSeat can also be specified for any new build or refurbishment project. "You only have to pick up the papers to see that Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain are all undergoing huge development – both commercial and residential."
Bromilow also thinks there is a demand for the WuduSeat in Pakistan, India and European countries like Scandinavia, Germany and France that have dense ethnic mixes and similar political drivers to the UK.
The company is forecasting sales of £3.3m by June 2009.