Kbb retailers question ‘level playing field’ of closures

Independent kbb retailers are questioning the playing field of business, with retail closed but merchant and DIY open

06 Jan, 21

Following the announcement of a third national lockdown by PM Boris Johnson, and subsequent closure of kbb showrooms, independent retailers are again questioning the playing field of business.

Kbb showrooms ordered to shut during lockdown

Similarly to the second national lockdown in November, kbb showrooms are not deemed as “essential” and must close until February 15, at the earliest.

The Government explicity states “showrooms such as those for bathrooms, kitchens, tiles, and glazing” should not be open for business, including by appointment-only.

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Builders merchants and suppliers of building products, such as DIY, will once again be allowed to stay open to support the construction industry.

However, it continues to cause consternation for some independent retailers who question the ‘level playing field’ of kitchen and bathroom sales.

Tony Robson, owner of independent kbb retail business Day True, commented on LinkedIn: “Am I going to be able to go into a B&Q, Homebase and buy a kitchen or bathroom?”

UK specification project support at Mirage Granito Ceramico Ben Hawkins responded: “Terrible if they are allowed. It’s like supermarkets selling clothes when small family run businesses had to close. It isn’t right.”

National chair of trade association the Kbsa Richard Hibbert said it is currently speaking to 40 trading standards and “will feedback info as soon as possible”.

Homebase reported it has closed its standalone Bathstores and Kitchen & Bathroom Showroom, however its store network remains opens.

A spokesperson for the company said: “As always, our first priority is creating a safe shopping environment for our team members and customers.

“As an essential retailer, our Homebase stores remain open with Covid-secure measures in place.

“Wherever possible, we are encouraging customers to visit our website in the first instance, before making a trip to store, where there is also an opportunity to utilise our Click & Collect service.

“In line with the latest government guidance, we have closed our standalone Bathstores and Kitchens & Bathroom Showroom, and we’ll continue to support our customers from the comfort of their own homes through our virtual design service.”

B&Q closed its bathroom and kitchen showroom for nine weeks in the first lockdown but reported at the end of H1 20/21 sales were “substantially ahead” of the same period last year due to high interest in home improvement and e-commerce.

By the end of July, B&Q reported it was processing more than half of its home delivery orders, with click and collect representing 79% of group e-commerce sales.

A spokesperson for B&Q said: “Our stores remain open in line with Government guidance.

“Online planning appointments are available at all stores. Customer and colleague safety continues to be our priority.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has announced £4.6bn financial support for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses which have had to close their businesses.

Although Tier 4 regulations mean you must work from home when you can, those who work in construction, manufacturing or work in other peoples’ houses, such as tradesman can continue.