Ramsey Dawson, managing director of retailer Ramsey’s of Nottingham, says the uncertainty of Brexit has made customers cautious and unpredictable
“Now is a good time to buy a kitchen” – that’s what we’re telling our customers because it is inevitable that the cost of goods will increase after Brexit.
But the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU seems to have left people more concerned about spending large amounts of money.
This was very apparent at the start of 2019 as the March Brexit deadline loomed. In January and February, we completed a lot of quotations for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms and we would usually see these quickly resulting in orders.
This year, though, it was very quiet in March. But as soon as Europe extended the deadline to the end of October, there was an influx of orders. In fact, we received three months’ worth of orders in just a week.
Although we are busy now, I am expecting the same dip in orders ahead of the October cut-off date.
September to Christmas is normally a busy time for us, but this year I think we will be issuing a lot of quotations with orders not being placed until after we leave the EU.
It’s not just customers who have concerns about the impact of Brexit, though. I do too. We specialise in fitting German kitchens, so the majority of our products are sourced from Europe.
Import taxes may be introduced post-Brexit, which will inevitably see prices increase. Plus, there may be changes to the customs system that could result in delays to products arriving here.
We don’t have a large warehouse, so products arrive here sometimes a day or two before they are delivered to customers’ homes for fitting. Any delays would be a major problem.
It will not only have an impact on our business, but our customers too. They are going to be frustrated if their new kitchen is delayed and we’ve ripped out their old one.
We’ve had assurances from our German suppliers that leaving the EU will not make a difference to the relationship we have. They export products all over the world and say they are geared up for this, which is nice to hear.
But, for me, it is not knowing what will happen with customs and tariffs that is concerning.
I am hedging my bets, though, in case of any problems post-Brexit, by sourcing a UK kitchen manufacturer instead.
Despite these concerns, I am confident in the future. We have a strong economy and people want luxury goods – I can’t see that changing overnight.