Challenges ahead for retailers but demand will remain strong, says Franke MD

Some retailers may be forced to consider how much retail space they need as consumer habits change, but demand will remain strong, according to Neil Clark, managing director of Franke UK.

As many KBB designers are working from home and offering a new virtual service, many retailers may evaluate their space and decide to close studios, Clark believes. However, he also says that the physical retail experience cannot be replaced.

Clark said: “While nothing replaces the bricks-and-mortar experience, I do think many retailers will be evaluating how much retail space they really need if they can sell and operate differently. My view is that inevitably there will be fewer studios, but not fewer people in the market, just more of doing things differently.”

The Franke MD has commended showrooms and retailers for adapting to these changing times so quickly and using their creativity to engage with customers. Design consultations and presentations are now frequently done via videoconference, which both designers and customers have adapted to.

Clark said: “Covid is causing everyone to do things differently. Not least kitchen retailers, who are stepping up to the plate and adapting in impressive ways. They are being more creative in how to get their message across, using technology platforms for design and presentation, while enhancing social media, website and marketing activity.”

Sales have been recovering after sales fell off for six months between March and September. Franke UK reports that studio business has come back strongly, but the house-builder market has not bounced back so well.

“Six months ago, sales fell off a cliff for everyone, but they are now recovering,” said Clark. “Across the Franke group, I have been monitoring other countries in Europe who were ahead of us to lock down and then open up again and our markets in Italy, Germany and France have come back really strongly. I am very encouraged by this picture and while we sold very little for a couple of months here in the UK, demand is still there and the overall balance for this year is looking quite positive.”

  • Read all of Neil Clark’s opinion in the October issue of kbbreview.

Neil Clark also features in the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast. It’s a special episode looking at the level of demand in the industry and how long it will last. Listen now using the player below or search ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice.

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