The KBB industry has been reacting to the news that long-established British brand Mereway Kitchens has given notice to appoint administrators.
Speaking to kbbreview about the uncertainty around the brand’s future, Angus Kerr, director of The Bathroom Company, which operates Mereway dealer K2 Kitchens out of its Perth showroom, told kbbreview he was hopeful that by giving notice to appoint administrators it “would mean a restructure of the Mereway Kitchens business”.
Kerr – who had not received an official update from Mereway Kitchens at the time kbbreview spoke to him – went on to offer his unwavering support for the brand.
“It would be very sad to see a well-established British company like Mereway go to the wall,” he said. “But my hope is that the company can move forward still using the Mereway brand.
“We have been through some unprecedented times and this lull that we are in now – and a market that’s been challenging since October last year – I suspect, is more than they could bare.
“We currently have a £120,000 project on the go with Mereway Kitchen furniture and we have manufacturing issues with it that have not yet been resolved, and that is a worry for us. We will have to wait for the official update and see how it pans out before we make any decisions. But, if Mereway Kitchens does move forward, we will support them in whatever guise they are in.”
Phil Beechinor, managing director at Alexander, which has two KBB showrooms in Worthing and Horsham told kbbreview that he was disappointed not to have heard anything directly from Mereway about the current situation.
He said: “I would just like to know where we are. I have got orders to be placed, I’ve got two showrooms full of Mereway kitchens and what do I say to customers? You’d have thought they would have been in touch to say everything is fine, don’t panic and carry on. I emailed Mereway Kitchens yesterday to ask for information as our rep left last month. I know absolutely nothing.”
Alexander has a long history with Mereway. Beechinor added: “We are probably the longest-standing Mereway dealer. I have been a Mereway dealer since 1992. It has been a fantastic brand for us. I would say that up until Covid they have been the nicest company to deal with. I would personally think it is a saleable company.”
At Albion Bathrooms, Kitchens and Electricals in Burton on Trent, owner Dave Jarvis had also heard nothing official from Mereway but had picked up on an interesting rumour.
He told kbbreview: “The rumours are – and they are unsubstantiated – that there is already a buyer in the melting pot.”
Jarvis also said he was concerned about three new Mereway Kitchens displays he had just received.
“We have just taken on three new displays from them, and they are sitting here all packaged up waiting to be installed,” explained Jarvis. “Provided Mereway is going to continue we will get them installed, but if they don’t then we will have to make moves to sell them off. But it’s a question of finding that customer that has a kitchen the same size as our displays.”
Jarvis said that he had just one outstanding order and a few remedials in the pipeline, but said he was going to “let the furore die down” before he started asking any questions.
He had also heard the rumours that had been circulating about Mereway’s situation. He told kbbreview: “There have been rumours in the pipeline about their financial situation, but whether they are true is difficult to find out. Their finances up until the last year weren’t too bad considering they are post-Covid years, but they haven’t filed any figures for the last financial year, although they have until September to do it.”
On a positive note, Jarvis added: “We have dealt with Mereway for years. They have made mistakes, but so have other suppliers. What we like about Mereway is that being a family firm, we are a larger part of their turnover than if we were dealing with a multinational and so when we say ‘jump’, they say ‘how high?’ They are a well-known brand and are well ensconced in the marketplace.”
Mereway Kitchens became a supplier for buying group MHK last May. Commenting on the story so far David Morris, sales manager, MHK UK said: “We haven’t heard anything official from the brand yet, but we are working with a number of MHK members that sell Mereway Kitchens on a back-up plan, to ensure that kitchens are available to them to fulfil orders, should they need an alternative.”
Reacting to the Mereway situation, The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (Kbsa) is offering support to any retailers that need help.
“We want all retailers to know that they can turn to the Kbsa, even if they are not members, and we will offer any support and advice they may need,” said national chair Richard Hibbert.
“It is very sad to see such a well-recognised UK brand struggling. We understand that there may be offers for the business and would hope that a deal that could benefit the staff, suppliers and retailers can be found.”
Before going to press, kbbreview contacted Mereway again for an official statement when a spokesperson said: “The notice to appoint administrators is part of the strategy to secure the long-term future of the business so we’re just carrying on as normal.”
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