No short term fix on installer shortage, says expert

The shortage of qualified installers hampering retailers’ ability to cash in on the current high demand is a serious symptom of a long-term problem and there are no easy solutions, according to one leading installation company.

Speaking on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast, Mark Conacher managing director of Liberty based in Dundee says that the pent-up demand has led to a bottleneck of installations and “everybody wants everything done yesterday”.

“And that’s really what is highlighting a problem that has always been there with trades. We’re all juggling this at the moment, we are inundated and we want every job that comes to us but there’s only so many hours in a day. That’s no different for retailers as they can only design so many kitchens a day.

“There isn’t a way to suddenly produce all these additional fitters for what could be a comparatively short period of time.”

The only long-term solution to this evergreen problem is, Conacher says, for the KBB industry as a whole to work with the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installers (BiKBBI) to ensure that this situation isn’t repeated in the future.

“There’s a lot of fitters out there but they’re not all good fitters,” he says. “The BiKBBI is a great organisation and they’re the only ones supporting the installation side of this industry and the more installers that get involved with them the better it will be.

“I remember being an apprentice and the skills shortage was being talked about and that’s a long time ago. Again, the only way to change this is to get back to grassroots. You’re not going to change this overnight. We need to juggle what’s happening right now and get through this period and then then properly work together on long-term answers.

Conacher also says that, despite current lockdown measures still in place, most customers are very relaxed about having installers in their homes.

“People are very comfortable,” he says. “Almost too comfortable. When my partner goes to see jobs and he’s inside the home and customers seem to forget all about Covid. He feels himself getting backed into a corner trying to keep socially distanced from people.”

You can listen to the full interview with Mark Conacher on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast using the player below. You can also find it in Apple Podcasts by clicking here.



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