Christian Käsemann, managing director, Ballerina looks at the European kitchen market in relation to the UK and what Brexit may mean for it
Q: What was the mood like at this year’s Kitchen Mile? What impact has Alno’s demise (and recent resurrection) had?
A: This year the fallout from Alno is shared and had no impact on visitor numbers. The mood was excellent and we got very positive feedback on our innovations and new designs.
Q: What kind of lead times are we seeing?
A: They are back to four to eight weeks, with a few exceptions.
Q: How much impact is Brexit having on your sales so far?
A: It’s an issue, but it has had no sustainable impact on our UK sales at the moment. Business is good. We were up 10.47% by August 2018 compared with August 2017. German kitchen furniture manufacturing was up 4% by the first half-year 2018. Ballerina-Küchen is generating more business in the UK in 2018.
Q: Is Brexit a case of the UK cutting itself off from Europe or Europe potentially cutting itself off from the lucrative UK market?
A: I am not ‘voting Labour’, but I embrace that the UK Labour party has taken a significant step towards backing a public vote on Brexit after its annual conference voted to keep open the option of another referendum.
I generally agree with Miele director Dr Zinkann that Brexit is a disaster and that “prices will go up because there is really very little industry in Great Britain”.
Q: How do you think most German brands view the UK market?
A: It’s too important for them to turn their backs on. We as Ballerina-Küchen have just made a further step to strengthen the corporate brand strategy in the UK by getting rid of worn-out importers and focusing on our sole agencies as sales representatives for the UK.
Q: In what ways have you planned for a soft, hard or no-deal Brexit? Or is that too costly?
A: In the case of a hard or no-deal Brexit, we do not have a plan B yet. As a medium-sized enterprise, we would not be able to go to unmanageable expense. Pragmatism is the only view at the moment
Q: What’s your message to your UK dealer network amid the uncertainty?
A: The future of the EU is most important – any decision that would give European citizens the feeling you can exit the EU and keep all the advantages would be suicidal. We hope that we get a real deal Brexit and no Chequers plan.