Retailers very positive as more showrooms open

Customers are lining up to make appointments as the independent kitchen and bathroom retail market opens its showroom up to genuine consumer interest.

Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that the pent-up demand many predicted is coming to fruition, with many retailers opening by-appointment-only ahead of the official June 15 government deadline for non-essential shops.

Many retailers who hadn’t opened following the Wren revelations had been waiting for June 1 to open on the assumption that would be the official deadline, but when June 15 was announced more decided the market was ready to start making appointments.

“After serious consideration, we have decided to open our showrooms by appointment only,” said Tony Robson, co-founder, of Day True in London. “We still believe that an amazing kitchen or bathroom purchase is non-essential in these times but with the lack of clarity from the government and with other businesses beginning to open up, we have decided it is the right time for us to re-enter the market…The future is going to be different, but full of new, thought out, inspirational opportunities and we at Day True are going to be at the forefront of this.”

Last week, an exclusive survey by kbbreview publisher Taylist Media revealed that the vast majority of consumers intend to continue with the kitchen and bathroom projects they had been planning and those retailers that are open or opening are reporting an influx of appointments.

James Kalozois, studio manager at Poggenpohl Hampstead (previously known as Norman Glenn) said: “We opened by appointment today (June 1). Set up all the distancing bits, received signed completion notes on four kitchens, deposit received on a new one (for 2021), had a client meeting and finalised pricing for tomorrow’s appointment. So a really good day.”

Phil Beechinor, MD of Alexander in Sussex also saw a very positive reaction after opening on June 1: “Day two of opening the showroom by-appointment-only with 13 appointments with new clients. So far so good.”

The experience of retailers who have been open for some time suggest that this could be a sustained interest and not just an initial burst.

Andy Gilmore, sales and marketing manager, at Fineline Interiors, which has showrooms in Oldham and Warrington, said:  “We have been seeing customers by appointment since the news of Wren doing similar. The result is that we exceeded our performance from May 2019, and also just about achieved the target I set at the beginning of the year for this May. If it can be done safely, which it can, consumers are showing us that the market is there.”

And the next step, which is to open for passing customers and not just by-appointment-only has already been taken by RFK.

“Our conclusion following a very busy week with new enquiries was to continue with our ‘open by appointment only’ strategy and then go to fully open on June 1, said CEO Trevor Scott. “However, access to the showrooms will be controlled by the staff and limited to no more than two couples in [the Rugby showroom] and just one at [the Warwick showroom]. Our marketing will encourage making an appointment first to avoid having to hang about outside until previous clients have left. The volume of enquires we have been getting demands a more comprehensive level of showroom engagement.”

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