kbb 2024: Showcase what you’re exceptional at, urges Schüller 

Stuart Dance, director, InHouse Inspired Room Design, a subsidiary of Schüller in the UK

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

A: Uncertainty is the key challenge. Everyone – from manufacturers, retailers through to end consumers – is looking for security and certainty in the market. Whether this is stability in terms of the economy, security about world events, certainty in terms of leadership of the country, there are significant challenges to come. 

From Schüller’s perspective, the main aspect that we can influence is how we communicate. This clarity is at every stage of our engagements and interactions. Retailers require transparency in terms of their orders. Consumers require clarity around delivery and certainty about when their kitchens will arrive, and to know that they will be delivered with care. 

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: We are incredibly positive about the health of the market. The independent retail market continues to be exceptionally strong and a good route to market. This is particularly key as we see the shift towards the upper market, where retailers cease to compete against sheds, chains and online retailers. 

Equally, we have seen a diversification of the products offered by retailers, which helps to embed loyalty and deliver greater order value and repeat business. Adding in pantries, utility rooms, hallway and living room furniture gives a continuity of design throughout our open-plan homes. 

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

A: We see the relationship with our retailers as being incredibly collaborative. Whether this is visiting retailers to find out more about their businesses, to offering guidance and advice at every stage, at Schüller we see our success through the success of each business we work with. 

Equally, as an international manufacturer, we need to ensure that our new innovations – whether these are new ranges, colours, features and finishes – reflect the trends and needs of consumers in very different home markets. It’s vital that we have this feedback from our independent retail base. 

Q: If you were opening a retail showroom in this market, what would your strategy be?

A: Be really clear on what you are offering. Generalisation doesn’t work anymore. You need to showcase what you are exceptional at and be specific about the market you want to attract. 

Start with research. A retailer operating in central Manchester can be very different from one in central Bristol and equally those in smaller towns will be different from those in more rural locations. Look at your competition and where you think your offering could be different. Look at demographics such as age, income, home ownership. Location is obviously critical, but your showroom doesn’t just have to be on the high street. 

We’ve got some fantastic retailers operating from industrial estates or even converted barns. You just need to make sure that people know where you are – and that you are easy to find! 

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