Why I’m NOT opening my showroom in lockdown…

A leading retailer has been explaining why he has chosen not to open his showrooms despite the guidance saying that KBB businesses are technically classed as essential retail.

Speaking on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast, Alan Margetts, managing director of The Kitchen Store, said that KBB retail was not an essential service and opening up the showroom doors was “not in the spirit of what we should be doing”.

The Kitchen Store has four showrooms in Brighton and Hove, Horsham, Worthing and – opened in September – central London.

“My heart sank, but it wasn’t a surprise,” Margetts said, on the announcement of the second lockdown. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in London over the last few months and you can see there from the activity on the street that things were slowing down.

“My gut reaction was that we needed to observe the rules and close. When we saw that the national chains were trying to latch onto the homeware as essential services rule I just felt it was wrong. Morally that’s not what the intention [of the lockdown] is. Are we an essential service? I don’t think we are.

“Do we want to stay open for business in whatever form, even if we are physically closed? Yes. Absolutely. It’s way more nuanced than maybe just completely open or completely closed but I didn’t feel that we should have a team full of people waiting in store.”

This is the same decision that Margetts made during the first lockdown and the company has reverted back to online appointments for the majority of customers. However, he said some exceptions may be made for key clients who really want a physical trip to the showroom.

“We’ll make sure we understand when people want to order, whether it’s this side of Christmas or early in the New Year. That’s the first criteria, and then we’ll go in and unlock the doors for them specifically and they can have the space to themselves. But I think the chances of that happening are very, very slim. Looking at the leads we’ve seen [since the new lockdown began] people actually want to go back to talking to us digitally and we’re doing our best to keep those enquiries alive.”

You can listen to Alan Margetts talk about his decision, his confidence that it won’t affect business and the wider market in the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast. Listen using the player below or search ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice.

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