KBB retailers coping with fuel shortages but fear longer-term problems

KBB retailers are so far not feeling the effects of fuel shortages, but many are cautious that they will have further issues down the line.

We polled our nationwide think tank of retailers – the kbbreview100 – for their experiences of the sudden fuel shortages that have swept the country, causing panic buying, long queues outside petrol stations and people running out of fuel.

There has been some disruption, with one retailer cancelling a home visit that was over 210 miles away and another who found their installer could not starting work on Monday morning as they did not have enough fuel to get to the job. 

All of our kbbreview 100 retailers agreed that none of their suppliers had experienced delays because of the fuel shortage.

Ciaran Leyne, director of Trilogy Designs in London, said she is not experiencing any problems but is only planning for the short term due to possible shortages. He said: “Presently no [problems], but we are very worried about the rest of the week. Unfortunately, we can only plan on day-by-day basis. If our installers, designers or delivery drivers need fuel but cannot access it, then they obviously cannot attend sites, projects or home visits. Another logistical challenge to add to the many facing the industry.”

One possible solution to if fuel shortages became a recurrent problem moving forward could be a move towards electric or hybrid vehicles. Alexander Kitchens in Horsham has been relatively unaffected by the fuel shortages as most of its designers use electric or hybrid cars. Managing director Phil Beechinor said: “Obviously electric vehicles are the way forward with most of our company car users choosing electric or hybrid to reduce tax. We could request that company vehicle drivers limit their personal mileage for the moment.”

However, that switch can be expensive for companies – especially in the short term. Frankie Powell, director of Lily Bain Bathrooms and Tiles in Newry, said that their local area does not have many charging points, so electric or hybrid vehicles may not be an option for them. 

Jane Ive, director at Bathroom Design Studio in Harrogate, deals with as many as  many 12-15 suppliers on each project, making transport and logistics a vital part of the business. “However,” she told kbbreview, “I’ve has always had the policy to collect everything at the showroom before delivering to the customer to reduce deliveries.”

She added: “I sell bathrooms that are made up of more different components/suppliers than kitchens – often coming from 12 to 15 suppliers or more per room.  We collate as much as possible at the showroom, so they go to the customer in as few as deliveries as possible. However, everything has to come separately into us – we collate as many customer orders as possible by the supplier. However, we have found lately that we’ve often had to split these out.”

Another way of cutting down on fuel is using public transport where possible. Graham Robinson, showroom manager of Halcyon Interiors on Wigmore Street in London, uses the Tube to get around London. He said: “I often use public transport to get around and that works well in London. It has highlighted the need to be conscious of not wasting journeys.”

Stefan Book, co-founder of Cu Cucine in Watlington, has kept up by making as many online appointments as he can and only going to someone’s house when it is vital. It cuts down the total fuel consumption, as mileage for the installers or the products themselves cannot be avoided.

According to Dave Jarvis at Albion Bathrooms Kitchens Electricals in Burton-on-Trent, cutting mileage out altogether is impossible. However, there are some ways of reducing it. He said: “Most of our suppliers run a ‘tight ship’ regarding their delivery routes and we ourselves visit customers’ homes frugally.”

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