Reducing carbon footprints and fears over Brexit-related delays are two reasons why retail customers are turning to British kitchen manufacturers, says Mereway Kitchens managing director Mark Mills.
Mills spoke on The kbbreview Podcast about flying the flag for Made in Britain and why he has seen an increased interest for British-manufactured kitchen over the past couple of years.
“We started to see a gradual increase in enquiries since Brexit became an ever-increasing concern for many business and consumers. I would say we have seen an increase in the past couple of years,” he said.
“There are some consumers who have specifically said to their retailers that they want to buy from a UK manufacturer, as they want to buy what they think of as more local to reduce the carbon footprint. Not only we are seeing it through Brexit, we’ve also seen it as a result as people thinking that it is a greener option to buy from a UK manufacturer.”
Mills said he had heard concerns from his retail partners about lead times being pushed back by German suppliers since the first lockdown. However, lead times for Mereway kitchens are said to be shorter than their continental European competitors.
Mereway lead times have remained the same and there has been an effort to keep adequate stock levels to fulfil orders. To be prepared against any shortages that could lead to extended lead times, Mereway has been stockpiling prior to Brexit.
“We’ve seen disruption from many of our European suppliers. Some insist on using their own logistics and export agents, meaning more administration internally. We did increase our stocks prior to Brexit to cater for that potential disruption. We also started to switch over to UK suppliers as well,” added Mills.
Sales remain strong for Mereway Kitchens as Mills reports that order intake for January is up 5% the same time in 2020. Orders are expected to slow down during February and March and then remain at the same level until May, according to Mereway’s projections.
Mills and the team at Mereway have been trying to predict future orders to make sure that stocks remain consistent and lead times remain low. As so many Mereway employees have been with the company for decades, Mills said he relies on their knowledge of the industry to help make these predictions.
He said: “You can’t always rely on a computer to give the answer you need, so we take the data and forecast, but we do rely on the knowledge of our staff and managers to make sure that we can smooth out production. We have always been able to plan out fairly far ahead and not had too many shortages when supplying our customers.”
- You can listen to the full interview with managing director of Mereway Kitchens, Mark Mills on The kbbreview Podcast