Showroom consultant of Redstone Supplies Stacey Allen says independent retailers should reap the benefits from recent changes in the DIY channel.
Following the news of Homebase closing 42 stores in the UK, I think there will be a benefit to sales for independent kitchen and bathroom retailers.
Although it’s sad for all the employees involved, ultimately fewer DIY stores selling bathrooms and kitchens means less competition for our sector.
It could be particularly beneficial for independent showrooms that are neighbouring a store set for closure.
However, I don’t think it will benefit my business because the local Homebase store isn’t close enough to my showroom.
I don’t believe the Homebase Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) will rock consumer confidence in buying big-ticket purchases of bathrooms or kitchens.
Instead, I would like to think it will open up sales opportunities. But it will also benefit other ‘big boy’ businesses, such as Wren, B&Q and Wickes.
So, now is the time for independent kitchen and bathroom retailers to step up, think outside of the box to promote their business, and to shine.
Levelling out installation
B&Q is no longer offering its Homefit installation service for kitchens and bathrooms.
And MD of KBBG Bill Miller agrees B&Q’s move away from installation will benefit the independent retail sector.
But Wickes is increasing its fitting teams.
I think it is levelling out the playing field for bathroom and kitchen sales but I still think it benefits independent retailers who offer a full design, supply and fit service.
Although we don’t offer an installation service, we do recommend excellent fitters. So, I still feel I can compete on price but with far better product quality and service.
We were given feedback by some of our customers that at Wickes they had to buy the bathroom suite before they were given a guide price on installation.
People generally want to know how much a project will cost them and not agree to a price in the knowledge it might increase with extras.
So, I think if this is happening it could play into the hands of retailers who can offer their customers the final price for the whole job.
Business has been buoyant this year but has naturally flattened out during the holiday season.
I think it may pick up towards the end of the year. But next year is Brexit and I think things are going to be quite tough.
I think 2019 will be very patchy and maybe quieter than this year. That’s why we are looking at ways to expand our business now, in order to future-proof sales.
Although we are the Bathroom Trading Company, we are part of Redstone Supplies, which also includes Maidstone Plumbing Centre and Redhill Plumbing Centre.
However, we are currently in the process of adding kitchens to our offer and, as we are based just around the corner from a B&Q, hopefully that will help draw in business.
We have lots of competitors in our local area, from independents through to multiples, and because we also offer tiles, these are not just restricted to bathrooms only. I would count Topps Tiles as a competitor, too.
So, we have got to think differently as a business. Adding kitchens to our offer and further increasing our number of competitors holds no fear for us.
With all the changes in the DIY market, I certainly think it offers opportunities for all.
It’s about capitalising on this time to ensure your business is healthy now and going forwards.