Quooker managing director, Stephen Johnson
Q: What are the main challenges we’re facing in the KBB sector and how is Quooker tackling these issues?
A: The KBB industry is facing two major challenges for 2022 and the coming few years – supply chain issues and the growing skills gap crisis. The pandemic has without a doubt accelerated pre-existing issues within the supply chain and disruptions are not going away. At Quooker we have invested in supply chain processes and managed our stock excellently throughout the pandemic, as we want to be completely efficient and transparent for our customers. Companies have to do the same to ensure customers are not left stranded.
Q: How do you view the health of the UK KBB market? What, if anything, can the industry do to improve it?
A: The growing skills gap crisis in the UK is something that cannot be ignored. It has become increasingly apparent that the high consumer demand for installation and after-sales care is unable to be met with any speed and in many cases, with any guarantee of quality. No matter how many taps we produce, or however many kitchens and bathrooms sold, if there are not enough installers to keep pace, there is an inevitable bottleneck and a real problem. Bigger brands have the responsibility to solve the skills gap by investing in the next generation of KBB installers, and promoting new learning and training opportunities.
Q: How do you think the relationship between supplier and retailer is changing?
A: The relationship between supplier and dealer is, and has always been, a complex one. Covid has certainly heightened the need for this relationship to be explored and better understood, but there’s rarely a time where a supplier or retailer is not under some form of external pressure, be that a financial crisis, Brexit or the pandemic. While the relationship is complex, it is a crucial one to get right. Our business success or failure is determined by our ability to build and strengthen relationships with our dealers. At Quooker, one of our priorities has always been to develop good relationships with dealers and private customers. As our dealers’ business change, we have to adapt alongside it. We constantly strive to improve how we communicate with them, and the pandemic has presented a new opportunity for us to rethink our methods and advance our digital platforms, to make it easier for us to stay in touch with our partners and customers.
Q: If you were opening a retail showroom in this market, what would your strategy be?
A: You must offer something unique and truly different to what everybody else is doing. That is the only way to stand out and drive real growth. Take the time to get the basics right – once you have a unique, innovative product, build an exceptional customer service offering to match. Providing excellent customer service, including installation and after-sales care is a fundamental aspect of a retail showroom that should be at the core of any strategy. Lastly, look to digital resources to support your efforts. We’ve hugely benefitted from the digital approach we took during lockdown – it’s crucial to invest in your digital platforms and communication methods to reach new and serve old customers.