The kbbreview Retailer Survey: Simeon Gabriel analysis

Hettich UK managing director Simeon Gabriel gives us his personal analysis of his first look at the results of the kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024…

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.

This comprehensive survey was only made possible with the support of our 2024 Research Partner Hettich. Here managing director Simeon Gabriel (pictured below) gives his first analysis of the results…

“Curiosity is human nature but also very valuable in business. We hope the data you are now party to rewards our curiosity and enlightens us all in lots of useful ways. We like to think that, as a supplier, it’s our job to know what customers want (to paraphrase Steve Jobs) and that’s why we got behind the kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024.

The level of response was remarkable and gives strong validity to the findings.

Our ‘key takeaways’ (forgive the management speak) won’t necessarily be the same as yours, nor should they be – that’s the beauty of a wide-ranging questionnaire – but we were struck straight away by a number of the results.

First, the conversion rate from enquiry to sale is remarkably high in KBB retail. Not so for all businesses but it suggests there is a formula that works and that many KBB businesses have found it. The result is that nearly a quarter of retail businesses have order books of between four and six months, which is about as long as most customers would be prepared to wait anyway.

So could the silver bullet to success be found in answers to the question ‘what sets you apart from other local KBB businesses?’ If so then it is mainly down to reputation and recommendations. This seems to trump ‘showroom design’, ‘having a dedicated installation team’ and ‘having highly trained staff’, although to be clear all the above got the nod from a high percentage of respondents and they all contribute to that reputation of course.


Perhaps the key here is that while reputation and recommendations are the highly-sought outcome, the factors that determine this outcome are harder to pin down. Whatever strategy a retailer uses to boost their business, they can only rely on comparison with past experience to gauge whether it’s working. There is no parallel experiment to test an alternative strategy.

So what are retailers up against in the quest for success? According to the survey the biggest challenge was one outside their control: the economy. Other concerns such as product availability and shortage of fitters have slipped well down the rankings compared with recent years, suggesting that sometimes our most immediate concerns don’t have the biggest impact on business in the long run. Although of course short-term factors can have long-term implications for reputation.

I’ve been on something of a speed date with this data so far and there is so much more to unpack. But I return to my assertion in the recent podcast with kbbreview that we are best focusing on what we can control. With that in mind, the news that a large majority of retailers are tackling a challenging market with increased marketing activity is reassuring, as is that fact that staff reduction is contemplated by fewer than one in ten.

This is a conversation to be continued. In the meantime, you’ll no doubt draw plenty of your own conclusions from this fascinating and wide-reaching data.”

See all the parts of our survey 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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