Jay Phillips, the managing director of Hansgrohe UK, has said that the kitchen and bathroom sector should still be cautious about the medium to long term outlook despite the sudden upturn in demand following the ease of lockdown.
Speaking on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast, Phillips said that the market was getting better but everyone needs to look further ahead.
“I think it’s improving but how could it not be from a decline of 20% GDP in April. So May is better than April, June will be better than May and July will be hopefully better than June, but I think it’s looking further ahead that it becomes more uncertain, I do believe there are some further challenges that lay ahead short-term.
“We’re probably approaching two cliff edges, one being the end of July when the government job retention scheme is reduced and then in October when the scheme completely finishes. Sadly, it’s widely expected that they could be two big spikes in unemployment.
“Kitchen and bathrooms are obviously a considered purchase so it’s whether consumers feel confident enough to proceed or delay because of fears for job security and tougher times. I heard an interesting quote from a clothes retailer the other day and they said they expect June and July to be like December and then the next six months to be like January – perhaps that sums it up, there will be some pent-up demand, but it won’t be easy.
“I think we’re all going have to create more value than ever before.”
However, Phillips said, this is by no means certain and there are also very positive signs that contradict this including consumer opting out of holidays in favour of home improvements and boosts to the property market.
“In the short term that there are some challenges but there are definitely some more positive indicators further down the road.”
Hansgrohe has always put a significant focus on its sustainability credentials and, Phillips said, that will not change despite the potential of a market downturn.
“If anything, it may highlight sustainability as an issue even more now,” he said. “I think what you’ll see is more conscious consumption. A lot of people will have less money to spend and they will be more careful and more thoughtful with their purchases, but I think what you’ll see is a move to people wanting to be more sustainable not less.
“Consumers will become savvier and more knowledgeable on the products and brands that they select and I think those companies that have invested in in their sustainability credentials will come to the fore.
“Our investment into Innovation and new products won’t be impacted by this crisis at all.”
Listen to this episode of The kbbreview Podcast here…