Marcel Crezee, managing director of MHK UK (pictured right), has admitted the buying group has only gained 20 members since its UK launch in January.
The group, which boasts 2,766 partners across seven countries, aims to rival the likes of the KBBG and Sirius Kitchen Buying Group, but nearly a year after its UK launch, Crezee said membership was well below his target of 50 showrooms by the end of the year.
One of the main factors that have contributed to the problem, said Crezee, was “the relative length of time buying group membership has been on offer in the European market, which means the benefits are better understood in Europe than the UK, and therefore there has historically been a higher take-up.”
MHK has 150 kitchens and appliance supply partners in Europe and 15 in the UK. MHK does not work with any UK kitchen manufacturers.
Crezee has also noticed that German suppliers are more interested in export and the UK is a key market for them. British furniture manufacturers focus more on their domestic market, although he believes there are significant benefits for a UK-made kitchen product to be sold throughout Europe
“UK retailers do not really understand kitchen buying groups and there is a misconception that they lose control of their business when signing up,” he said.
Even though MHK provides services such as marketing, and a central payment system, being a member of the buying group still allows retailers to remain independent.
“The Central Payment System is definitely the most significant offering for the UK market. This system means greater efficiency for retailers plus, which is vital to their business, they also benefit from credit that just would not be available to them direct from the supplier.
“For suppliers, they have the opportunity to win new accounts through MHK and also crucially total peace of mind in these pre-Brexit, uncertain economic times that they will be paid. No need for suppliers to go through the process of vetting and checking retailers and paperwork and administration is also reduced.”
Crezee said: “There is a relatively low awareness and understanding of KBB buying groups in the UK and one of MHK’s main challenges is to communicate just how beneficial membership is, while dispelling misconceptions.
“The current perception of buying groups among UK retailers is neither negative or positive,” he said, “as only limited information has been available about what the advantages are, so retailers form the opinion that it’s all just about buying prices. Retailers also believe they already have the best buying prices,” he continued.
“Once retailers can understand that the advantages are about far more than just buying prices, and that MHK has solutions for the challenges that retailers face every day that make businesses better able to meet the needs of their customers and owners, the value of the buying group route – and particularly the benefits that only MHK brings to the UK – will be sought by retailers.”
MHK offers payment security despite the current climate of manufacturers going bankrupt and Brexit on the horizon with what it describes as its “win, win, win”, “no catch” membership.
Hadley Kitchens in Leamington Spa was one of MHK’s first UK members. Owners Bryan and Caroline Newton said: “We joined MHK because of the great support we have received and to give us access to a much broader range of suppliers with great buying terms.”
Ben and Vicky Elmore of Elmore Kitchens in Bath added: “We felt MHK understood us and what our business was trying to achieve, and could help us realise that goal.”