Preparing for 2019 challenges

Philippa Turrell looks back at the past 12 months for the kitchens and bathroom industry

17 Dec, 18

If you’ve blinked you may have missed it – but we’re at the end of 2018. And what a whirlwind this past 12 months have been.

Preparing for 2019 challenges

It’s been a time of challenges for high street retailers with Homebase entering a Company Voluntary Agreement to close 42 of its stores.

And Nobia, owner of Magnet Retail UK, still cites “fierce competition in the lower-end segments.”

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Plus, distributor Froy’s has announced its intention to close its business, citing changes in the competitor landscape, uncertainty caused by Brexit and rising costs such as business rates.

But it certainly hasn’t been all doom and gloom as Astracast rode out administration and Alno returned to the UK as Neue Alno.

There has also been investment into the UK businesses of Omega, Neolith, Blum, JJO, Ideal Bathrooms, HPP, Duravit, VitrA, TKC…the list goes on and on.

And businesses have grown from strength to strength with consolidation bringing fewer but bigger, more powerful groups to the bathroom and kitchen industries.

CP Hart bought European Bathrooms, Kermi’s owner took over Vasco, Stelrad now owns Hudevad, Phoenix Bathrooms acquired Acorn Bathrooms and Haier snapped up the Candy Group. Phew!

But among all these stories, what has stood out most recently has been the acquisition of retailer Better Bathrooms by the Roxor Group, and the continuation of supply for Froy’s customers by Bathroom Brands.

So, if retailers ask (in a Life of Brian-style) ‘what have manufacturers ever done for us?’, here are just two shining examples.

Is this a sign of things to come? In a bid to secure sales in an uncertain and competitive market, will manufacturers have to become financially involved with their channels of distribution?

In turn, will this put greater pressure on retailers who want to retain their independence?

Are we just at the start of the journey where retailers begin to band together, as association or buying group members?

And could this coming together of retail forces actually be positive for the independent sector which, by its very nature, is fragmented?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s strength in numbers.

Perhaps, along with your turkey, you could digest all that and let us know what your thoughts are for the year ahead.

Until then, and on behalf of the entire team at Kitchens & Bathrooms News, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and prosperous year ahead.

See you in 2019!

Check out some of Philippa’s previous first words: