Kbsa | Conference will be a meeting of minds

National chair of KBB retail association Kbsa Richard Hibbert explains why it has opened the door to its conference to all retailers and what he hopes they’ll learn from attending

06 Sep, 22

National chair of KBB retail association Kbsa Richard Hibbert explains why it has opened the door of its conference to all retailers and what he hopes they’ll learn from attending

Q: Why have you decided to open up the Kitchen & Bathroom conference to all independent retailers for the first time in the history of the association?

A: We have had non-members attend over the past few years, by invitation only.  We felt that after the last few years the time was right was to extend this invitation, so that all independent retailers can benefit.

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Q: Can you tell us about the Kitchen & Bathroom conference?

A: The conference title is Engaging Minds- Empowering Success and is dedicated and focused to support, protect and promote this entrepreneurial retail sector.

It will include a powerful programme of speakers, including experts to motivate and encourage retailers to explore business opportunities, particularly in the challenging market.

The line-up includes performance psychologist Dr Martin Littlewood and business coach Andy McLachlan as guest speakers.

Littlewood is widely recognised as a consultant in professional football for developing and supporting individuals, teams and organisations on performance, leadership, identity and culture.

He has worked in the Premier League for the past 17 years and is an associate professor at Liverpool John Moores University.

He is joined by published author, entrepreneur and business and leadership coach Andy McLachlan (pictured) as a guest speaker. McLachlan will present a session titled “Great People for Amazing profit” and share ideas on how leading businesses across the world are learning to better connect with staff and customers, to drive their success and profit.

In addition, The Kitchen & Bathrooms Conference, hosted by the Kbsa, will culminate in The Big Debate on The Future of Retailing in the KBB sector, a panel discussion with leading kitchen and bathroom retailers and moderated by myself  and MD of Quooker Stephen Johnson.

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Kbsa conference will be attended by members and non-members, for the first time in its history and will be hosted by BBC journalist and broadcaster Juliet Morris


Q: What do you hope independent retailers will gain from attending the Kitchen & Bathroom Conference?

A: We believe it represents a not to be missed opportunity to gain an insight into future opportunities and challenges for the independent retailer.

They will benefit from the expert knowledge of our guest speakers. The Kbsa Big Debate will also allow retailers to share their views and exchange ideas on how to grow a business and improve profitability.

This year’s programme has also been developed to give retailers more time for networking with each other. We know from feedback, that this is a valuable benefit of attending the conference.

Q: The Designer Awards also makes a return to being a physical ceremony for the Kbsa in 2022. What will this mean for the association and KBB designers?

A: The Designer Awards provide an opportunity to come together and celebrate the skills and expertise of retailers in our industry.

In an increasingly competitive market, it is important to remind ourselves what the independent retailer stands for, which is quality and professionalism.

The celebrity host for the Awards this year will be British comic actress and writer Sally Phillips. Listed in The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts in British comedy (2003),

Phillips is one of the female writers and performers behind Channel 4‘s award-winning comedy sketch show, Smack the Pony. She will be a fantastic entertainer for the Kbsa Designer Awards.

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British comic actress and writer Sally Phillips will host the Kbsa Designer Awards


Q: What is going to be the biggest challenge for KBB retailers going forwards?

A: KBB retailers have a challenging time ahead, as do other retailers.  The continuing rise in the cost of living and escalating energy prices will hit consumers hard as we move towards the end of the year.

In addition, the problems in the supply chain caused by worldwide shortages and political unrest will be with us for some time.

Competition from national competitors will increase as they discover and continue to explore the potential of much higher value projects, encroaching into the domain of the truly independent.

This will make it even more important for the independent sector to focus on quality of design and material, and their emphasis on excellent service, before during, and after the process of selling their projects.

KBB retailers must plan ahead and call on the flexibility they have developed during the pandemic to allow them to remain agile, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Q:  What will be the greatest opportunities for KBB retailers?

A: KBB retailers have already started to branch outside of their traditional core activities.  Many now offer design services for other rooms in the home, presenting themselves as a centre of excellence in all things to do with home and lifestyle.

The rise in demand for outdoor kitchens that started during the pandemic is also a huge opportunity moving forward, as entertaining and cooking outside becomes more popular.

Retailers that consider what the consumer really wants in the future and how best to serve that customer, and satisfy their dreams and visions, will create new opportunities.

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The panel of speakers will include performance psychologist Dr Martin Littlewood and retail futurist Kate Ancketill.


Q: How close are you to becoming representative of the independent KBB community and/or KBB retail, as a whole?

A: We are working towards this goal and have reached out to many more independent retailers, connecting with a wider global audience throughout the pandemic.

We have become much more visible as we worked closely with BEIS, and Trading Standards nationally, to secure a level playing field in the face of big nationals remaining open whilst small retailers had to close their shops, during lockdown.  We hope this enhanced visibility translates into memberships.

We have also reached out to non Kbsa members when supporting students on the Bucks University Foundation course; those that needed sponsorship to start the course and who found themselves with fees to pay when the course closed.

Q: How will you be supporting your members and what can we expect of the Kbsa over future years?

A: The Kbsa will promote, protect and support the independent KBB sector. One of our key roles will be to continue to engage with government and other organisations to influence, protecting the interests of the independent retailer, and ensuring they can operate on a level playing field.

Members can expect new services and benefits to be introduced that will support them and save them money, such as the recently introduced Law Hub.

This service offers a free toolkit for SMEs created and maintained by qualified solicitors and business advice experts, with templates that can be downloaded 24/7.

As the only association that represent the independent sector we aim to grow, to become bigger and stronger, and guide members to help them to succeed and prosper in years to come.

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The all-day Kitchen & Bathroom conference and awards dinner take place at The Belfry Hotel & Resort in West Midlands on September 28, 2022.

Retailers can view the latest information on the Kitchen & Bathroom conference and its speakers and book tickets to the event on the  Kbsa website.