Orders flood in as KBB retailers reopen post-lockdown

KBB retailers across the UK have reported a sudden rush of enquiries since they reopened their showroom doors and could meet customers face to face again.

The kbbreview100, our think tank of KBB retailers nationwide, said they have seen a noticeable increase in demand.

A lot of the increase in demand experienced was down to pent-up demand. Ian Coghill, a director at Riddle and Coghill in Edinburgh, said: “We are dealing with an influx of clients, but that is down to people who haven’t been able to finalise their designs or projects due to Covid.

“We have, in essence, been closed for six months in the past year, and you still have the same number of clients in the market that were planning anyway. We now have one years’ worth of clients as an industry trying to get everything done in a six-month time frame. Only time will tell if the so-called ‘stay at home’ renovation boom is, in fact, a boom or a time-restricted blip that washes through our industry.”

Ciaran Leyne, director at Trilogy Designs in London, said he has seen a lot of enquiries, and people appear to be shopping around more and looking for comparison quotes. He said: “Presently, we are experiencing a flood of enquiries. How many of these are converted to orders remains to be seen. But we are very optimistic about future orders and have already converted a healthy amount of business.

“We have noticed that customers are getting more and more comparison quotes. There are definite advantages to remote working with clients and, like many, we have tried to retain some of this despite the showroom being open (Zoom calls, etc), but this does make it easier for customers to secure multiple quotations.”

As well as increased demand, customers are generally wanting their designs fitted quicker, according to Joe Mühl, managing director of contracts and commercial projects at Ocean Bathrooms in Dorset and London.

He said: “More people are wanting to start the process and complete the process quicker. But these people don’t need the service or installation and would have bought online.”

Tony Passmore, the CEO and managing director of Passmore Group in Leeds, has noticed an increase in orders since the roadmap was announced. Passmore has even had to add to its design team to keep up with the increased demand.

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Passmore said: “To be honest, this started as soon as Boris announced his roadmap out of lockdown. March was ahead of budgets set before the pandemic, as is April. On the back of a very busy April, we believe that May will be a record month for orders – and our marketing efforts, including pay per click, are working at less than 50%. If we fully engaged our paid marketing, we wouldn’t be able to cope.”

Although James Roberts, director of Sanctuary Bathrooms, also in Leeds, has seen an increase in demand, he is wary of the demand slowing as the country opens up and lockdown comes to an end.

He explained: “The whole of 2021 has seen significant demand, and online has seen a big growth to date, and so there’s a definite demand out there. We feel that this is likely to continue. However, we also have to be mindful of the fact that, as normality slowly returns, people will want to spend time with family, go places for days out, go on UK holidays, and be less tied to their homes, so demand may start to shift.

“Additionally, we’re also getting feedback from fitters that they are booked up until September or even towards next year. In that sense, those people that haven’t committed to it already may push back plans towards the end of the year or next year, so we could see a lull now and then a resurgence towards the end of the year.”

Demand for installers is also an issue, as Stefan Book, co-founder of Cu Cucine in Watlington, has found. He said: “We currently have no installation availability until the end of July or early August. We have five install teams and have looked to recruit new installers on a self-employed basis – one’s we have approached are booked up until similar dates.”

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