Finding good fitters bigger challenge than Brexit, say retailers

Kitchen and bathroom retailers say that finding skilled fitters is the single biggest issue they face, according to an exclusive kbbreview survey.

Brexit, while it has undeniably caused consumer uncertainty for some retailers, others are reporting that it hasn’t affected their business at all.

In an exclusive survey of 300 independent kitchens and bathroom retailers conducted by kbbreview, 30% said that Brexit was one of the biggest challenges in their business.

However 50% said finding good fitters was their biggest headache.

The survey, conducted at the end of November, marks the start of kbbreview’s build-up to the kbb 2020 exhibition in March. The full results will be in the January issue of the magazine.

Anecdotally, retailers that are finding Brexit challenging say it is mainly causing their consumers to delay purchasing decisions.

“The uncertainty had led to customers keeping their hands in their pockets,” one said.

“The uncertainty it has created has made customers much more cautious and footfall is down on last year. Our suppliers are also having to plan for that uncertainty and price rises don’t help,” said another.

However, many retailers reported the opposite.

“Don’t think it’s affected us, we don’t bring it up and customers rarely mention it,” said one.

“As yet, we have not felt a direct impact to our business,” said another.

A similar survey was also conducted at the same time in 2017, ahead of kbb 2018, and finding fitters was also the top challenge for retailers then.

“The political machinations in Westminster have definitely affected broad consumer confidence,” said kbbreview editor Rebecca Nottingham. “But there are clearly sector specific issues that are much more pressing and don’t seem to be going away.

“Finding good people to fit kitchen and bathrooms is still the biggest challenge and it could be argued that, for this industry, solving this long-term problem might be just as difficult as Brexit has been.

“The industry needs to collectively do more to address this issue for the long-term as it can’t be fixed with an election.”

The full survey results, which cover everything from average order values to what retailers think of their suppliers, will be in the January issue of kbbreview.

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