“Look forward with positivity”, urges KBBG MD

Managing director of buying group KBBG Bill Miller urged the industry to “look forward to the future with some positivity” at its recent AGM.

12 Jun, 24

Managing director of buying group KBBG Bill Miller urged the industry to “look forward to the future with some positivity” at its recent AGM.

“Look forward with positivity”, urges KBBG MD

Speaking at the National Space Exhibition Centre, he addressed the audience: “Let’s get the elephant out of the room, the market at the moment is rubbish isn’t it?”

“This year – pretty awful. Last year – pretty awful. But let’s not stand still.”

Sponsored Video

Despite a challenging market KBBG grew by 18.5% in 2023, with 41 new members, which Miller stated was due to high-end kitchen and bathroom sales.

But he stated this year was down 7% (Jan-May 2024), despite adding 15 new members, and was the first time KBBG had experienced a decline in the past 10 years of being in the UK.

It reflected a wider Europe trend, as managing director of parent company Der Kreis Ralph Leimbach stated:” “For the first time in the history of Der Kreis we recorded a decline in sales. We lost turnover in the total group of Der Kreis of about 7.85%.”

But Leimbach said economic expectations reflected a positive trend in the future.

Having met with managing directors in the industry, he said the expectation is sales have reached the bottom and the market will slowly recover.

Commenting on the UK, Miller stated: “Our business reflects your business. Our sales are your sales”.

However, he added the group had performed better than the market, offering a guesstimate of being 20% down.

Bill Miller highlighted “bright spots” in UK KBB retail, with bathrooms performing better than kitchens and the “ultra” high end unaffected by the market.

But he said the “sweet spot” for independents of £20,000-£30,000 kitchen sales was tough, as there were fewer consumers and it was harder to get them to commit.

He urged retailers, while the market is quiet to prepare for better times.

To support its members, Miller said the group had improved buying conditions with the likes of Nobilia and Beckermann and introduced new suppliers.

These included British kitchen furniture brand Novus from Omega, Italian bathroom furniture brand Baxar and Germany bedroom furniture brand Interlübke.

In addition, it has partnered with trade association for independent kitchen and bathroom retailers the Kbsa to offer KBBG a 50% reduction in the trade association’s membership.

Miller outlined his thoughts on the market which has seen a downwards trend for inflation, cost of living and fuel costs, and a certainty of interest rates reduction.

“Once consumers start to see the cost of borrowing coming down, I think that is going to prompt them to come into the showroom.

“What I’m saying is, for the second half of the year, things will get better, and better again next year.”