Finding good fitters is slowing recovery, say retailers

The availability of fitters is significantly affecting the ability to fully capitalise on current high demand for kitchens and bathrooms, leading retailers have said.

The pent-up demand caused by the coronavirus lockdown has been a welcome relief for those retailers concerned about the possible devastating long-term effect on business – however, being able to fit all the available jobs into the bulging diaries of good installers is hampering their ability to cash in on demand.

Kbbreview used social media to ask whether this was an issue and Luke Wedgbury, from Coalville Kitchens in Leicestershire, simply said: “Yes. Yes. And another yes. The bigger question is when will this skill shortage end?”

Wayne Lyons from Soaks Bathrooms in Belfast, agreed: “A bottle neck in our industries is installation and all fitters I know are booked up to next year, this will curb sales.”

Brian Bolton from Davies in Dublin said: “I fully agree, it’s getting to the point where we can only sell as quickly as installers can work.”

Gary Walmsley from Walls & More: “I agree that there isn’t the right amount of installers around, so you can only take orders if you have capacity to install.”

In a kbbreview survey at the end of 2019 – way before the coronavirus hit – retailers said that finding good fitters was already a much bigger challenge than the effects of the biggest issue at the time – Brexit.

In a heartfelt opinion piece written for kbbreview, Damian Walters, chief executive of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI), said that this is just another symptom of a long term skills gap that only the industry can solve.

“There’s no magic pill and there’s no government department working on a strategy. The only people that will fix this is our industry – so, you either carry on spectating on the problem, or you do something about it.”

What do you think? Are you having the same problem? Email the editor direct [email protected]

Read Damian Walter’s full piece here

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