|Source • Brands||
Price • Origin
Italia Faucets, Inc.
2505 Anthem Village Dr.
E. Henderson, NV 89052
(Far Below North American Standard)
This Company In Brief
Italia Faucets, Inc. is a Nevada business that imports Chinese faucets that it sells under the Italia, Fontaine and Brienza brands through internet venues including Amazon, Home Depot (on line only), and Faucet Direct. It also sells some LSH brand faucets under the LSH name. Faucets sold under the LSH brand are not included in this review.
Italia Faucets, Inc. is a Nevada-based importer of inexpensive Chinese faucets that it distributes in the U.S. under the Italia, Fontaine and Brienza brands.
The company started in 2012 as a California corporation located in Irvine. That corporation is now dissolved. The business was reconstituted in 2013 as a Nevada corporation. Its sole stockholder, director and officer is Amelia Liza Martin (formerly Kwik).
The business appears to be the direct successor to brand faucets from Lake Forest, California until 2013 when it abruptly ceased business. Italia inherited the Fontaine brand name, but disclaimed any warranty responsibility for Fontaine faucets sold prior to November 2013.
The company buys its faucets from several different manufacturers, adding and changing suppliers from time to time. Despite its name, none of Italia's faucets are from Italy. They are sourced from China through the U.S. distriutor, Markimex, which sells its own brand faucets.
As of the date if this report, Italia's suppliers include:
• L.S.H. Faucet Co., Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer that also supplies faucets to Italia sells these faucets under the LSH brand, and may also sell them under one of its three proprietary brands.
• Guangzhou Seagull Kitchen and Bath products Co., Ltd., a manufacturer established by the Peoples Republic of China as a state-owned enterprise in 1958 at the begining of the Great Leap Forward and long before the opening of mainland China to the West. It is one of the oldest of the Chinese faucet manufacturers. Seagull supplies faucets or faucet components to as well as Italia.
• Ningbo Yida K&B Technologies Co., Ltd., a lesser known Chinese faucet manufacturer that sells Yida brand faucets throughout the far east. It sells toModel UF35110 Twist faucet.", false, true, false, "", null, null ) --> There are undoubtedly other suppliers that we have not yet identified.
Italia faucets are, with a few exceptions, very ordinary Chinese faucet designs of largely unremarkable quality, more or less indistinguishable from the faucets available from any of dozens of other importers of Chinese faucets (See the list below). Italia faucets are neither designed by nor made especially for Italia. They are faucets offered generally to the industry at large by the Chinese factories that make them.
For example, the Adelais (see images at top and at right above) two-handle lavatory faucet (street price: $256.00 US) is made by Seagull and appears in the Seagull 0nline catalog as the Model 9L128001 two handle, three hole lavatory mixer. It is also sold by Markimex as the Model UF 55510 "Twist" faucet (street price: $180.26 US).
Chinese faucet designs tend to conservative, targeting mass market customers. A new faucet design that proves popular in the European or North American markets will ultimately find its way to Chinese factories. The lag time is normally three to five years behind the Western designs, by which time the design is no longer new.
Italia sells three faucet brands: Brienza, Fontaine and Italia. Italia is identified as the company's "flagship" brand, but it may be in the process of being phased out. We found only one "flagship" Italia faucet in the company's current online product list. All the others were marked "sold out".
Italia sells faucets made by (Jangsu) L.S.H. Faucet Co., Ltd., a Chinese manufacturer, under its Italia, Fontaine and Brienza brand names.
It also sells L.S.H. faucets under the L.S.H. name. Faucets sold under the L.S.H. brand are not Italia faucets, and are not included in this review. For information about" see our review of the brand.
Faucets sold under the L.S.H. brand are made to U.S. standards and certified safe and reliable by IAPMO-RS. They are legal to import, offer for sale or sell in the U.S.
Italia acquired the Fontaine brand in 2013 upon the demise of
In its acquisition announcement Italia indicated that it had acquired only the Fontaine name and would not be responsible for warranty claims on Fontaine faucets formerly sold by FSA Imports. Nor has it undertaken to stock replacement parts for these older faucets. So, FSA Fontaine faucets are orphaned, without warranty or parts support.
This is a concern with start-up companies like FSA and Italia. Most start-ups fail within ten years, and faucet companies are no exception. Italia may be one of the lucky few that go on to find a niche in the highly competitive North American faucet market, but if it does not then any possibility of future warranty or parts support dies with the company. (See the sidebar "The End of the Asia Marketeer" for more information.)
The faucets sold by Italia as Fontaine faucets are not the same faucets formerly sold by FSA Imports. The FSA faucets were made by Italia does not get any of its faucets from Lota. Italia still maintains the old Fontaine website, but it is now nothing more than a stub directing viewers to Italia's website.
The End of the Asia Marketeer?
Italia Faucets is an Asian Marketeer — an importer of relatively inexpensive faucets from various Asian manufacturers that it sells retail in North America, primarily at internet outlets, under its own brand names.
There are a lot of Asia-Marketeers operating in the U.S. and Canada (see the partial list, at the bottom of the main article), and more are springing up every year. The cost of starting a business to import inexpensive Chinese and Taiwanese faucets and other sanitary wares is relatively low. No substantial investment in factories or machinery is needed. All that is required is a warehouse and a good marketing plan.
In the past few years, at least six new Asia-Marketeers have entered the market. We review three of them here: These, along with the many established Asia-Marketeers such as are in hot pursuit of Italia's market share, adding to the competitive pressure in a relatively small market segment.
Most of the U.S. market is controlled by the big three U.S. producers. They account for 75% of U.S. faucet sales, which leaves very little room for everyone else. All of the Asia-Marketeers put together account for just 6% of the faucets sold in North America. It is a very small segment, very competitive and getting increasingly crowded. There has already been one casualty. FSA Imports which imported and sold faucets, quietly closed its doors in 2013.
However, the more damaging competition in the future may not be from U.S.-based Asia Marketeers but from internet retailers based in China. Up to recently the Chinese had largely been content to just manufacture faucets, leaving the selling of faucets in North America to domestic importers. But, China's e-tailers already serve the world's largest and most competitive e-commerce market, and are quietly expanding into Europe and North America as profit margins in their home market get smaller.
Paypal®, AliPay® and other cross-national payment services have made international retail transactions secure and easy; and parcel shipping operations by UPS, FedEx and China Post have made worldwide small-package delivery inexpensive and fast. The average delivery time from mainland China to the American Midwest is now just 14 days, express delivery is 3-5 days, making direct delivery from China commercially viable.
All of these China-based e-tailers are just getting started, and have a lot to learn about selling faucets in the North American market. None, for example, offers a warranty of any kind other than a promise to replace the faucet if defective on delivery, and none of these faucets is certified for North American plumbing. (But, then, neither, apparently, are Italia's faucets). These e-tailers will get better. They are tough and savvy competitors with years of e-tailing experience and very deep pockets. If they can hold their prices, they will put a lot of pressure on North American importers of Asian faucets.
An even larger threat to importers of Asian faucets is direct competition from Chinese faucet manufacturers that decide to market their products directly to U.S. buyers, cutting out the U.S.-based middlemen.
It's already happening. after several false starts, many mis-steps and a long, long learning curve, finally made the breakthrough with its L.S.H. Faucet Co., a Chinese manufacturer that has only recently begun selling faucets in the U.S. under its own L.S.H. brand, primarily through the
Lota is the potential powerhouse. The list of faucet companies that buy Lota faucets and faucet components already reads like the who's-who of the U.S. faucet industry, and the company also manufactures store brand faucets for large retailers. Lota branded plumbing fittings, especially compression-style faucet valves, have been sold for years in the U.S. But, until recently the Lota name has not been associated with decorative sanitary ware, such as faucets. That may be changing, however.
We are starting to see faucets for sale in the U.S. identified as made by Lota. Many of Home Depot's faucets are now cross-branded as Lota faucets. Lota is also starting to showcase its faucet products on its impressive U.S. website, Lota U.S.A.. You cannot, so far, buy a Lota faucet from Lota, but the web site is clearly set up to support direct sales in the future. Lota has also established a strong U.S.-based customer service and warranty operation to support the Lota-made faucets sold by importers in the U.S. and Canada. This was a very smart strategic move since it lifts the cost of providing after-sales support from the companies that sell Lota products, making Lota more attractive as a supplier to U.S.-based faucet importers. It also sets Lota up nicely to begin introducing Lota branded products into the U.S. with the marketing and support infrastructure already in place and operating smoothly. It should help Lota avoid the early customer service issues that beset its competitors like
We think all of this preparation can only be the run up to a launch of a Lota brand in the U.S. It's hard to tell whether Lota will try to establish its own brand name such as Globe Union did with by the giant Japanese home improvement company, Lixil. But, Lota is aggressive and well capitalized, so however it decides to enter the U.S. retail faucet market, it is almost certain to succeed. And, most probably to the detriment of one or more existing Asian Marketeers such as Italia.
Why would you care about that? Well, if Italia goes under, it takes with it any possibility of post-sale warranty and parts service. As meager as these may be, they are still a little better than nothing at all.
For more information, go to Problems with the Marketeer Business Model.
Italia sells through its own website, through Britt & Jules and through various other internet retail venues including Home Depot (online only), Faucet Direct and Wayfair, and as a third party seller on hosting websites such as Amazon, Houzz, Overstock and Walmart (online only).
The Italia website is well designed with intuitive navigation. The information provided about each faucet is inadequate, however, There are no installation instructions, dimensioned drawings or parts diagrams available on line or for download. Only one view of each faucet is provided, which sometimes makes it difficult to discern the true appearance of the faucet. Multiple images or better yet a 360° viewing feature such as is used by faucets, which allows the mouse to rotate the faucet to any viewing angle, are invaluable in fully visualizing the faucet.
Italia's standard finishes are chrome, brushed nickel and oil rubbed bronze. Not every faucet is offered in all three finishes. Some specialty finishes such as Antique Copper are available on a few kitchen faucets. The finishes offered on a faucet depend on the finishes available from the faucet's Asian manufacturer.
We have found two different warranties for Italia faucts. The written warranty packaged with the faucets we examined had a strrightforward limited lifetime warranty, although the term "lifetime" was not defined.
On its website the company claims a limited lifetime warranty, but only on the body of the faucet and any components permanently attached to the body. Any "replaceable" components — ceramic cartridge, aerator, handles and base plate — are guaranteed for just 1 year and finishes for 5 years. The term "lifetime" is not defined in this warranty either, and will ordinarily be interpreted by a court to mean "as long as the original owner owns the faucet". If a faucet under warranty is "discontinued and no longer replaceable, a pro-rated credit towards a purchase of another similar Italia Faucets, Inc. branded faucet will be issued."
We're not sure which warranty actually applies, so we have accepted the online version as the most recent warranty, and, therefore, the current statement of the company's warranty. The standard faucet warranty in the U.S. and Canada is a limited lifetime warranty on every part of the faucet, including its finishes. The Italia warranty is below this standard and hardly a ringing endorsement of company's confidence in the quality, durability or longevity of its faucet products.
As to replacement parts, the company states that, after expiration of the warranty, replacement parts "may be available for purchase." Delivery of replacement parts "typically take s up to 10 business days. In some cases, replacement .... may take up to 4-6 weeks for delivery." Typically Italia would stock only a very few, if any, replacement parts, relying on its distributor, Markimex, for a more in-depth parts inventory. However, if Markimex does not stock a needed part, then it has to come from the Chinese factory that made the faucet, if, indeed, the factory still has the part. If it has to be sent from the factory, the 4 to 6 week delivery time may be wildly optimistic.
Chinese and Taiwanese faucets comparable to Italia include:
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Italia, Fontaine by Italia or Brienza by Italia faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.