EDITOR’S COMMENT: Supermarket sweep

24 Nov, 14

Specialists kitchen and bathroom retailers – show your point of difference

While the war of words between Tesco and distributor Mark Two Home Services still ring in the air, of who is to blame about the demise of the kitchen and bathroom businesses – the result remains the same. Tesco has pulled out of kitchens and bathroom sales and it has led to its supplier Mark Two Home Services shutting up shop. While I’m not ignoring the plight of the 200 Mark Two employees who have lost their job, which is tough and particularly at this time of year, can we actually learn anything from this lesson?

While independent kitchen and bathroom retailers may decry consumers’ choice of retailer, the reality is Tesco provided 11,000 projects. And why did consumers opt to purchase a large ticket project from a grocer, above and beyond any DIY chain, merchant or independent kitchen and bathroom retailer? What was it about Tesco that made it a choice for the consumer? Was it the brand? Did the Tesco name deliver a promise, or inspire a level of trust, that couldn’t be matched by other kitchen and bathroom stores? Was it the convenience of purchasing a kitchen or bathroom? Is it yet another shining example of how the internet has transformed retail business, as consumers aren’t dictated to by showroom hours but can research, return to the ‘store’ without fearing commitment, and shop at their convenience? Or was it the lowest possible dominator – price?

By working out where this once successful business took sales over competitors, could offer real insight into the future business strategies of how high street showrooms can operate in the changing retail market. Interestingly, though, what seems to have shone through the murkiness of blame is consumers still demand quality of service. While price may be important, it shouldn’t be at the expense of value and peace of mind. And surely this is the playground of the independent high street showroom. Could it mean, after the recession, consumers have learned a valuable lesson that cheaper is not better? 

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Let’s hope so, and show consumers who want a kitchen that there’s a reason specialist in the title of the high street kitchen and bathroom showrooms.