Portuguese industry goes gothic!

Thursday, January 4, 2018, 23:14

Ad on the back of a loo door in Porto sirport

It was in Porto airport that I discovered what you have probably always known: that toilet paper is sexy. How, I ask myself, could I have spent a lifetime unaware of this crucial fact? But there's more. Portuguese loo rolls are apparently the sexiest on earth! Who knew?

Then I realised that there was no need for ignorance. There on the back of the loo door was an internet link with the popular prefix 'my': myrenova.com. "Only an idiot would go to a web site to learn about toilet rolls," I thought so, of course.....

To find out what I learned plus why I used the word 'gothic' in the headline, click here.

Did you know that you can buy luxury black loo paper made by the Portuguese paper company, Renova? Fans of Simon Cowell may well already know about this as it was reported in the MailOnline as long ago as 2012 that he insists on providing it in the bathrooms of both his London and Los Angeles homes. Mr Cowell not being my favourite man, I somehow missed this.

I also missed the fact that Kris Jenner supplies it in her six-bedroom-eight-bathroom house. (Whisper it quietly, but when I saw this I said to myself, "And who on earth is Kris Jenner?" I even foolishly supposed Kris to be a man! But I expect you all know who she is.) You may have read in last July's edition of Ideal Homes that Kim Kardashian, her daughter, apparently can't stand black and white bathrooms and in particular hates black loo paper – in fact, rather than put up with it, the article claimed she was forced to move out of her mother's house. Who knew that black toilet paper could be so powerful and change lives?

If your life isn't ruled by celebs I expect you are now thinking that only an idiot would buy black toilet paper. Well, let's think about that. If you have been feeling that your bathroom is looking dated and unfashionable and are planning a refurbishment, or if you have recently updated it and want it to look as glamourous as possible, have a look at what the web site Odditymall said in 2013:

"Black toilet is a great addition to the renovation you have recently done to your bathroom to make it look more sleek, modern, and more sophisticated than gross, smelly, white toilet paper. Just think if your bathroom had a goth theme to it, where everything is black. You have a black faucet, a black shower, a black toilet, then you have white toilet paper. Why would you destroy your newly finished bathroom with white toilet paper?"

Who knew that by buying white paper we are all committing such a dreadful social gaffe? That white toilet paper was gross and smelly?

The website Redcandy is equally insistent that the cognoscenti wouldn't be seen dead in a house with white paper:

"This black toilet paper is the ultimate accessory for your contemporary bathroom, and would make a most funky gift for anyone with an equal sense of both humour and style. Just imagine the surprise on your guest's faces when they spot this funky tissue for the first time!

The Renova black toilet roll really is the ultimate in luxury tissue, and once you've experienced the quilted triple ply sheets of goodness you'll never want to go back to that cheap 2 ply sandpaper nonsense."

While I appreciate the fact that black loo paper may be funky, would you be thrilled by a gift of loo paper on your birthday?

Having laughed at black loo paper, let's move onto the more serious stuff. Renova is a Portuguese success story. From a tiny company with roots going back to 1818, it has become a big international player in the paper and tissue market, employing hundreds of people in the Torres Novas area, with manufacturing plants in several other European countries and exporting all over the world – to over 60 countries as far as I can see. You can apparently buy brightly coloured Renova kitchen roll in Tesco in the UK.

When travelling around Portugal these days I often get the feeling that it is a young, vibrant country – far more so than the UK. My own town of York, for example, seems to have turned into a historical theme park where you are more likely to meet a Roman centurion, a Viking warrior or an Anglo-Saxon peasant in the streets than an entrepreneur. Not so in Portugal where the IT scene in Lisbon is buzzing and Apple have established a customer service centre; and Porto is being renovated sensitively, keeping its glorious facades while the interiors are upgraded into truly desirable apartments.

One Portuguese friend is ambivalent about this saying, "I wish people would stop praising Portugal internationally. I'm afraid they'll spoil it." (Strangely I have felt that about Yorkshire too.) Tourists, second home buyers from China, Russia, the Middle East and even France and Germany have been flooding into Portugal. Will they price the Portuguese out of their own lovely land?

Back to Renova, the youthfulness of the country is shown by a desire for innovation, which is where black toilet rolls and scented paper are playing a rôle. This what the production manager said a few years ago:

"Our strategy is through innovation. We want to increasingly sell unusual tissue products internationally; we are already known as the "black toilet paper company" and this brings a lot of visibility to the brand."

The company believes that it was, in 1998, perhaps the first manufacturer in the world to introduce toilet paper with balms and lotions. What other innovations can there be? I must keep an eye on myrenovacom.

So seriously, whose lives might be enriched by black toilet paper? I'm originally from Yorkshire and British readers will know that this means that I admire and practise frugality so you might think that Yorkshire would be an outside bet for black toilet roll sales. Yet, though I'm not sure that most Yorkshire folk would stump up euros 7.15 + packing and postage for 6 rolls, it does seem to me that black toilet rolls could be hugely popular in Whitby when the Goths come there for their periodic jamborees. Perhaps there is a marketing opportunity here for an entrepreneurial vampire hunter. Any takers?

If black is really not your thing, though, don't despair. There is a rainbow range of vibrant colours to choose from: brown, red, purple, fuchsia, green, yellow, orange, blue, nude and rose. So, what are you waiting for. Get on line, check out Renova, and buy the 'sexiest paper on earth"!

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