BMA conference bolsters industry resilience

The Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) held its annual Conference, under the theme 'Resilience’, at Carden Park Hotel in Chester.  

12 Oct, 23

The bathroom industry is facing challenging times and journey to stabilisation is far from over, requiring resilience, was the message at the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) Conference.

BMA conference bolsters industry resilience

Held at Carden Park Hotel in Chester, the annual BMA Conference was themed upon resilience, with  a range of experts delivering their perspectives on the topic.

Opening the conference, CEO of the BMA Tom Reynolds said the industry was facing some of its most challenging times, with the compounded effect of Brexit, COVID and last year’s budget, during a period of lower demand.

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He stated: “While there has been some stabilisation in the last year, our journey back to the position of security and moderation in the UK is still far from over.

“Yet, in my view, it is a real testament to the mettle of the bathroom manufacturing sector, that we’ve weathered all of those storms admirably.”

With an aim to bolster industry resilience, the BMA Conference saw presentations from thought leaders spanning an adventurer through to economist, and professionals from across the bathroom supply chain.

Adventurer Bonita Norris, who became the youngest British woman to scale Everest in 2010, spoke on the topic of The Resilient Mindset.

She talked about the importance of a clear vision and how to achieve success by taking small steps.

Norris stated we are far more capable than we think, to focus not fret over tasks, and by doing so the goal realises itself.

Authors of Bias Impacts: How Culture and Diversity Affects the Leadership Journey, Patrick Ricketts and Kanthi Ford considered the Topic Resilience through Diversity.

They explored how diversity provides an array of perspectives and can help strengthen the decision-making process.

Ricketts suggested companies should broaden the net for recruitment, from different industries and communities, for a long-term solution to diversity. 

As part of a Big Debate, an expert panel explored the challenges and opportunities based upon the question “How resilient are our global value chains in bathroom manufacturing”. 

Chaired by CEO of the BMA Tom Reynolds, the panel included experts from across the supply chain from retail to freight, through to manufacturer representatives, and a consumer champion.

It included MD of Ripples Paul Crow, group sales and marketing director of WTA Keri Barton, head of sustainability at THG Eco Adam Law, chief executive officer and executive director of Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) Kerry Stackpole and consumer champion Jane Hawkes.

Speaking about the impact of the COVID pandemic on the supply chain, Paul Crow of Ripples said it was probably the first time he had experienced the industry working well together.

However, he said patience started to run out – beginning with the consumer, through to installers and retailers – as cracks in stock levels started to appear.

While Tom Reynolds highlighted the positive improvement in collaboration between manufacturers and merchants – with the Product Liability Group – creating an understanding through the supply chain.

At the current time, Keri Barton of freight service WTA stated there was a temporary sense of normal with low shipping rates, which are stable, but warned it wasn’t a sustainable business model.

In terms of consumer service level expectations post-pandemic, Paul Crow said they differed from customer to customer, even buying the same bathroom at the same price, and his team has to be adaptable to meet individual needs.

He sought the same flexibility in suppliers, adding those who fared the best in sales through Ripples were asking how they can help the retail business, and he said stock levels should be transparent.

Consumer champion Jane Hawkes agreed with Crow’s view on personalised service with service level expectation higher than ever, adding: “The customer is not king; they just need to think they are.”

Looking ahead, in a presentation answering the question How resilient is our economy? economist Vicky Pryce highlighted supply chain pressures easing but slowing inflation and little growth. 

Concluding the conference, president of the BMA Jason Parker said: “Resilience isn’t just about bouncing back from challenges, it’s about adapting, evolving and thriving in the face of adversity. 

“I’m confident we can overcome any challenge that comes our way.”