The KBB sector had mixed success in 2023, with online sales, high rents and staffing proving to be the greatest concerns for retailers, a survey by UK trade show Kbb Birmingham has revealed.
The survey of professionals, including manufacturers, designers, installers and retailers, was conducted to find out their opinions of 2023 and outlook for next year.
It reported two thirds of retailers (63%) had a positive year with revenue the same or greater than 2022.
In addition, it found almost 1: 5 said they have increased the number of outlets, however the majority kept the same number of outlets.
According to the results of the survey, retailers felt their biggest challenges were competing with online retailers, high rents and limited supply for showrooms and staffing or recruitment.
For manufacturers, the KBB Birmingham survey revealed 27% saw an increase in their revenue and sales volume, while 26% reported revenue and sales had stayed the same.
The majority of manufacturers surveyed felt the skills shortage was the biggest challenge facing the industry, with a lack of experienced fitters available.
However, other concerns mentioned by manufacturers were staff retention, smaller budgets leading to more ‘DIY’ projects by consumers, inflation and rising product/material costs and recovering debt from customers.
With ongoing challenges in the global economic landscape, the outlook is varied across the board. From a retailer perspective, when asked to look ahead, 66% expect to see some future growth.
Manufacturers were a little less optimistic with 38% predicting a “small decline” in the year ahead, however 24% expect to see some growth.
An interesting trend is the growth of digital marketing within the sector, with over 80% of marketers planning activity in this area.
Event director of Kbb Birmingham Sam Fisher commented on the survey: “The research gives us important insights on what 2023 has delivered for the KBB sector and to really understand the challenges our exhibitors and visitors may be facing in the year ahead.”
“With global markets facing economic uncertainty, this is reflected in the responses which indicate some challenges ahead for the sector.
“We want to ensure we have opportunities for visitors to kbb Birmingham to access useful information and support, so are planning a series of drop-in clinics at the show, from financial advisors giving free advice for small businesses, to marketing experts giving digital marketing Q&A sessions.”
The biennial Kbb Birmingham returns from March 3-6, 2024, is held in the NEC and will feature over 230 brands, and aims to attract an audience of over 15,000 visitors.