kbb 2024: Why Franke is standing strong with its retailers

Jo Sargent, sales and marketing director, Franke UK

Q: How is business at the moment compared with last year? 

A: There is no doubt we are all in a challenging
and unpredictable market and there are factors that we simply cannot control such as global geopolitical instability and its economic impact. But we will focus on the things we can control, such as service, product, availability and value for our retail partners. There are some optimistic indicators, inflation has more than halved from its double-digit high a year ago and forecasts are that it will continue to fall throughout the year. Cuts in interest and mortgage rates should follow, and provide more stability and certainty for the consumer and this improves confidence for spending on home improvements. 

Q: What are the main challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

A: We know that showroom footfall is down and conversion rates are taking longer but this year will see us continuing to invest heavily in marketing activities, brand awareness, new product intro­ductions and bolstering our service teams. We are standing strong with our retailers – they are our most important route to market. 

Q: How do you view the health of the UK KBB market? In what ways could it improve and how can the industry improve it?

A: No one could have predicted the conflation of events that have we have seen in recent years – Covid, the war in Ukraine, the supply chain and energy crises, ongoing geopolitical uncertainty, but our sector is determined and experienced and we always show resilience in the face of economic challenges. Homeowners place an enduring value on their kitchen, not just for its pivotal role in the home for creating quality of life, but as an investment in the property’s value. This is our guiding beacon and a reason for optimism. 

Q: How do you think the relationship between supplier and retailer is changing?

A: The relationship has changed in that speed and availability is a priority. There is more immediacy about everything and suppliers need to be more agile and flexible than ever. Consumer expectations are higher and we have to support retailers strongly in fulfilling their needs for service, speed, product, innovation, information and technical support. But at its heart the relationship is the same in that it’s a partnership based on trust, value and respect.

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