The kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024: What suppliers think of retailers

Given that the kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024 gives retailers the chance to say what they think of suppliers, it’s only fair that we flip the question round and ask brands what they think of their retailers…

As the industry gears up for its largest gathering in two years – kbb Birmingham 2024 – we’ve conducted our biggest ever survey into the confidence, opinions and mindset of the  independent KBB retail sector.

We’ve surveyed over 500 independent kitchen and bathroom retailers to find out just how their businesses are performing and how confident they are for the future

It’s our biggest ever poll, teaming up with experts Eureka! Research to conduct the survey at the end of last year, and these independently verified results are absolutely fascinating.

We must also thank our 2024 Research Partner Hettich for their invaluable contribution in making this survey happen – you can read MD Simeon Gabriel’s initial analysis here.

You can see all the results of the retailer survey using the links at the bottom of this post, but seeing as part of that is asking retailers what they think of suppliers, we also did a straw poll of 100 kitchen and bathroom suppliers to get the other side of the story.

Let’s start with the good stuff, what’s the best thing about working with independents?

The most popular answers by far were that they are great ambassadors for their brand (70%) and consumers trust their judgment and advice (76%).

“The showroom retail sector remains the standout for product knowledge and design capability,” one said. Although, in comparison, ‘they are excellent designers’ was chosen by 59% of supplier respondents.

There is always the other side of the coin though, so we asked suppliers what the most frustrating thing was about working with independent kitchen and bathroom retailers.

The top answer was a tie between ‘reluctance to change or do things differently’ and ‘leaving orders to the last minute unnecessarily’, both with 46%. The frustration in ordering is slightly up from 41% in 2022 but compare this to just 24% in 2018.

Communication from suppliers to retailers has changed a lot but how about the communication from retailers to suppliers? The good news is that no one said ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’, in fact the most common answer was ‘good’ with a respectable 57%.

In fact, suppliers were reasonably satisfied with most things that independents do. Just over two-thirds (68%) said they were a ‘very important’ part of their brand awareness activities, 79% said they were average or good at social media and websites (although 19% said ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’) and a whopping 92% said they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the standards of showroom displays.

The most interesting point, and clearly the most obvious frustration, is when we asked whether independent KBB retailers make the most of the support they can offer their businesses?

Two-thirds said ‘no’…

“The independents tend to be either excellent when it comes to displays and knowledge, or very poor,” one told us.

“Therefore, those willing to spend the time working with a supplier and absorbing their information and new ideas have a better chance of making themselves stand out from
the crowd.”

Another said: “I have positive relationships with lots of independent kitchen retailers although many are resistant to in-depth product training. Those that take us up on it have a much better experience when supplying our product.”

See all the parts of our kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024 analysis here

PART ONE: Business health
PART TWO: The biggest challenges
PART THREE: What retailers think of suppliers
PART FOUR: Retailer view
PART FIVE: What suppliers think of retailers
PART SIX: Personal analysis
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