Quooker UK | Listen. Understand. Be supportive

MD of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson says the kbb industry must unite and work as a team

02 Nov, 20

Managing director of Quooker UK Stephen Johnson says the industry must unite and help each other during these challenging times

Quooker UK |

The COVID crisis has undoubtedly shaken our industry, with considerable and persitant financial pressures and staff welfare strains placed on retailers, manufacturers and businesses across the country.

With thousands of showrooms and manufacturing plants shut, staff placed on furlough and resultant redundancies, we’ve undergone some of the toughest trading conditions this industry has ever had to face.

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At Quooker, we too have felt the strain the crisis has placed on the industry. We’ve seen first-hand how it’s affected smaller, independent retailers and how changing consumers habits have dramatically impacted sales.

A crisis like the Coronavirus pandemic we all currently face is a crossroads for leaders.

It may sound like a simplification of the situation but, at such a crossroads, you can go in one of two directions: Shrivel up and remain inward focused, or work together sharing expertise and resources to help the industry re-build, recover and thrive.

I’ve grown up in this industry and passionately believe we have a wider responsibility of support wherever possible.

it’s essential that companies and retailers unite and do what they can for the industry.

Helping dealers

On March 23 all the showrooms shut and, because of this, business was effectively shut too unless it could work in another way.

Immediately we went to the drawing board, took legal advice as to what we could do, and looked at how we were going to be affected in every area; how our staff, business, dealers and their customers were going to be affected, so we could devise a strategy for each.

Throughout lockdown, we launched a number of initiatives to help our dealers, installers and the wider KBB network.

Back in March, we launched our KBB helpline which sought to partner struggling retailers with industry heavyweights to share resources and expertise.

We then introduced our ‘COVID-19: Quooker Support for Businesses’ scheme which offered dealers the ability to freeze accounts for a period of up to three months.

We’ve also pledged £250,000 media spend to support the wider kitchen industry, encouraging consumers to return to the high street and driving footfall to showrooms in two separate initiatives.

We also launched a new VIP virtual installation offer. With the aim of delivering uncompromised quality of care, this service guides consumers through the installation process by remote one-to-one virtual application.

Using Quooker’s augmented reality app, consumers can visualise how any design or finish will look in situ before purchasing.

Orders can then be placed as usual from retailers nationwide at a discounted rate. Quooker will then ship within 48 hours, without a delivery charge.

Consumers will be guided through the installation process by a certified Quooker installer within a two-house window.

Not only does this initiative give consumers unhindered access to market-leading boiling taps, but it also strives to keep as many independent installers in the industry working as possible.

Stock shortages

I have a huge amount of sympathy for those companies facing issues with stock and factory closure; it’s difficult.

Every manufacturer wants to deliver to its dealers. Just as the dealers need help with the payments of invoices, the manufacturers need support to get themselves back on their feet after being closed.

So, I encourage everyone in the industry to work as a team.

Listen, understand and be supportive to each other. COVID is here for the long-term, we need to get used to it and we’re going to have to live with it.

Though I think the balance is completely wrong at the moment, I have no doubt it will correct itself over time.

In terms of the kitchen industry, the kitchen is a product that you touch, feel and buy so I have absolutely no concerns whatsoever that our industry is going to be seriously damaged or changed.