EDITOR’S COMMENT: Forward thinking

19 Nov, 13

Philippa Turrell reflects on a challenging year and asks what lies in store for the KB industry next year

Well. What on earth happened to 2013? It started quick out of the gates and never looked back. Even the August ‘slowdown’ didn’t seem to affect the velocity of time. In fact, I still believe someone forgot to send out the memo reminding the industry summer months are usually quiet.

Or maybe it’s an age thing? I was always warned that as you get older, the years pass quicker…and….thinking about it…Doctors and police officers are starting to look younger too!

Anyway, I digress, back to bathrooms and kitchens. The retail market, although having picked up – with some even reporting good business – remained tough. And the challenges posed by online seemed to offer an even greater threat – although, in reality, who actually lost out on trade? More bluster and pontification than actual business challenge.

Sponsored Video

So, you could argue, the speed of change throughout the year was driven by the ever-changing supplier landscape. Established brands such as Mark Two, alongside those new or returning to the market such as Ours sanitaryware, Crosby Kitchens, Silverdale Bathrooms all fell foul of this year. Not to mention there were firms who swiftly changed hands – with Baumatic now owned by Hoover, Britannia snapped up by GDHA and JSB Distribution acquired by Robert Lee – keeping everyone on their toes.

But enough of looking backwards, let’s look ahead to the next 12 months, with hopes of a strengthening industry and improving consumer confidence driving retail sales. Certainly, much industry research seems to indicate an upward slope in sales for 2014, with reports by both AMA and MTW indicating steady growth. And that’s without question what this industry has needed the most – balance and sensible sales consistency.

But surely the biggest indicator in the UK must be the trade show kbbBirmingham. And, dare I say, there is a frisson of excitement and a hint of expectation already building around the show!

Could it be with the return of bathroom giant, Ideal Standard, after a decade of non-attendance, the exhibition could be returning to form? Certainly, it’s garnered support from the Bathroom Manufacturers Association – which represents over 80 bathroom brands. And the show’s floorplan already seems to be stuffed to the gills with over 200 bathroom and kitchen brands.

Okay, so we’re not talking the double decker stands of the 90s, with great swathes of VIP rope and half of Birmingham employed as hospitality staff. But, it could be a show with great representation, plenty of new product and the ability to drive the industry forwards through successive, successful trading years.

So, I’m getting off the fence and going to put it out there. We will have turned the corner, so let’s look forward to 2014 together.