Coalville Kitchens | Supply issues? It’s the retailer’s fault

Managing director of Coalville Kitchens Luke Wedgbury says retailers should take responsibility for supply issues

05 Oct, 20

Managing director of Coalville Kitchens Luke Wedgbury says retailers should take responsibility for supply issues and look at alternative products to future proof their business

Coalville Kitchens & Bedrooms | Supply issues? It's the retailer's fault


If (like me) you’ve been pulling your hair out at the amount of times you had that email or the phone call to say “Sorry it’s out of stock” only to be then told “we currently can’t give you a delivery date”…. Then please rest assured you’re not alone!

The world stood still for almost three months, so what did we expect?

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We (kind of) came out of lock down and assumed that it would be business as usual, and for a period it was, with lots of things in stock and delivery was fine.

Then it all stopped, and as retailers we started to jump up and down in frustration.  Myself included. But these guys simply ran out of stock, nothing had been in production for a very long time.

I have what I feel is a wonderful relationship with all of our suppliers,  surely if I make that phone call to the sales rep they’ll find that oven or bath I need hidden away in the back of the warehouse?  It’s for me, right?

No, they won’t.  Everyone is in the same boat.  No special treatment here.

Retail responsibility

So what can we do about it to future proof our business?

I can confirm that shouting down the phone and sending nasty emails to suppliers is not the answer (I’ve had my fingers burnt a few times in the past) because when these issues are a thing of the past those suppliers will remember you!

All of the above is nobody’s fault, right?  Well… it may be a difficult pill to swallow but maybe as retailers it’s our own fault?

I’ve come to the understanding that’s it’s my responsibility to deliver on my company’s promise to all of our clients.

I refuse to play the blame game when it comes to supplier issues.  I’m 100% sure they want to sell me the goods, they just don’t have them to sell.  They too are suffering.

Pivot and adapt

So what have I learned over the last four weeks?

Firstly, my staff and I have made some incredibly useful new connections with new suppliers and new people in our search for what we needed.

These new connections will help us in years to come, and we wouldn’t have connected if we didn’t have a problem to try and solve.

Secondly, we’ve discovered just how incredibly patient and understanding our clients have been once they realised it was out of our hands.

Sure, because of the current climate we’ve had to make some awkward phone calls and felt like we let a few clients down, but the upside of this means we’ve had to come up with a plan that means they get what they want in a timely manner.  Now we look like the superheroes.

Thirdly, it’s come to my attention that we’ve had to diversify with our products and offer other products that are available.

This has opened up our learning and made us think outside the box on so many levels. In business any kind of learning is welcome. Big Positive.

Lastly, we’ve learned not to panic. What’s the point? If you’re adept enough to be able to pivot and bring out the best in these situations and see it as a challenge, then you’ll be fine.

So let’s give those suppliers a break, let them breath and do what they do best. Supply us.

It will all turn out right in the end, and if it’s not right, then it’s not the end.  I’m happy to be patient, it’s a conscious decision I’ve made and the best things come to those who wait, right?

Only time will tell. Just keep swimming.