The CEO of the British Institute of KBB Installation has spoken out in the wake of Bathstore’s administration, warning that if we don’t protect installers we risk losing them to other ‘less risky’ industries.
In a blog on the BiKBBI’s website, chief executive Damian Walters said the institute was “shouting about the installers’ losses out loud” but warned of the wider implications for the retail market, as retailers needed installers “to fulfil their ambitions”.
The stark warning comes after Bathstore pulled the plug on all installations following its collapse into administration, leaving fitters chasing an initial estimate of £1 million for unpaid work – a number that is expected to rise as more details emerge.
At the time, Walters said: “Once again it’s the little guy that’s hit the most. Honest, hard-working people who are the backbone of our economy are once again the victim of a scenario which is clearly way beyond their control.”
In his latest blog, Walters warned that, with the current skills gap in the UK, “we are already running dangerously low on available talent”.
Walters continued: “The apprenticeship initiative we’re supporting will not bear fruit for many years and with our relationship with the EU far from clear, we simply can’t afford to let these experienced installers slip into early retirement or other industries.”
He added that by protecting installers, they would also be protecting retailers, “not just today, but for tomorrow too” and that its role has always been to support all stakeholders in the world of installation.
Walters said the BiKBBI was “shouting loud” to make sure that the industry does not lose “great people”.
The BiKBBI wants its members, he said, to have a seat at the table and we want the Government to step up their support of them in the same way they would support big businesses in times of crisis.
“The Government have often referred to the SME as the ‘backbone of the UK economy’, so for me it’s time they put their money where their mouth is,” he added.
Walters said there was a need to “collectively find a solution to prevent future failures affecting our precious installer commodity and we need to work that out quickly”.
In the meantime, the BiKBBI said it was also “supporting Bathstore, potential buyers and the administrators – as well as those customers affected”.