Whether the storm?

Whatever the economic climate, independent retail will be key for the kitchen and bathroom industry

17 Sep, 18

Kitchens & Bathrooms News editor Philippa Turrell gives her opinion for the September 2018 issue.

The World Cup may be over and Love Island too, but this glorious summer just keeps rolling on. And I’m quite happy to subscribe to the theory that the UK has now become a tropical country. It’s the new standard.

Of course, anything could happen and it could equally be cloudy skies and thunderstorms by the time you are reading this. Seemingly, meteorology is mirroring the unpredictability of the current economic climate.

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Interestingly, the kitchen and bathroom industry seem to be battening down the hatches in case of a storm. But it is all playing into the hands of accomplished, independent retailers.

B&Q seems to be making a play for volume sales, by ditching its installation service to concentrate on design and ordering.

It’s great news for retailers who do offer the full service, as consumers shopping at a certain price expect project management for the seamless acquisition and completion of their new kitchen or bathroom.

And at the other end of the scale, mid-market In-Toto has looked to sail to calmer waters, adding luxury kitchens to its offer.

Possibly recognising a future polarisation of the market, if there are tough economic times ahead, it has introduced a premium store concept Warendorf by In-Toto.

Having already had to weather its own financial storm, with the collapse of its then parent company Alno UK, it’s probably not insignificant the business is looking to future proof its business, so lighting doesn’t strike twice.

It opens up a whole new avenue of sales for the business, and is possibly one of the best illustrations of how challenges also bring with them opportunities.

What will also be interesting to watch is how manufacturers start to charter their course, predicting and subsequently reacting to the market.

You can be sure that the independent retail sector will be at the heart of their plans. VitrA has already cast its net for sales, offering a mass-market product with a structured discount for displaying retailers.

Supporting dealers while securing their showroom space, the company is making headway to reap sales in future months and years.

With Brexit looming, and the outcome as certain as Noel Edmonds opening a box ‘Deal or No Deal’, there are no sureties in the bathroom and kitchen industry. But, we are all in it and learning together.

Finding and maintaining trusted partners in suppliers and installation will help retailers win the budgets and hearts of consumers, as they transform their home. That’s whether there’s a storm brewing or not.

Whether the storm? 2

Pictured: editor, Philippa Turrell