Jake Naylor: ‘Suppliers shouldn’t dictate what retailers have in their showroom’

Jake Naylor, MD of Hanex, talks about the company’s pro-active approach to problem-solving, and his belief in retailer independence.

Jake Naylor, MD, Hanex.

Q: What’s your assessment of the health of the market right now?

A: Don’t get me wrong, times are tough, but you can only play with the cards you’re dealt. It’s all about attitude. There’s work out there, but it’s all about what you make of it.

If you’re going around focusing on how the industry’s struggling, then you’re doing something wrong. Because there’s plenty of showrooms out there that are thriving, there’s lots of work for all of us. It’s all about having that ambition to go out and get it. One of the things we live by here at Hanex is that if it’s not in your control, get over it. You can’t change what you can’t control, but you can influence what you can. 

Q: When Hanex launched in 2020, did you experience any of the supply chain issues that plagued the industry? 

A: It was difficult for everyone across the board, but we’re always learning. There’s still supply chain issues to a certain extent now. Not in actually getting hold of product, but getting it to the UK on time through what’s going on in the Red Sea, from farmer strikes in Europe, etc.

The key is to react quickly. You’ve got to be flexible. So we’ve got plan A, B, C and we’ve also got plan ‘break glass in case of emergency’. Businesses carry people’s livelihoods on their shoulders, so it’s down to us to make sure that these people are taking home their money at the end of every month.

Q: Some retailers feel that their relationships with sales reps has changed since Covid. Would you say that’s true?

A: Yes and no. Every single showroom likes to do business differently. The personal touch is still important, and we still keep up regular face-to-face contact with as many customers as we can, but do they really want us in their offices for two hours at a time? Could they be using that time to get another job? We’re happy to meet them halfway and communicate with them however they’d like.  That’s given us a load of really, really loyal customers. 

Q: What’s your opinion of showrooms that use multiple surface suppliers?

A: Look, our customers can sell anything they want, and we’re not precious about that either. They phone us up and they apologise when they use a different brand, but it’s honestly fine with us. Some companies may think differently, and try to say that retailers need to dedicate a certain amount of showroom space to them to qualify for discounts, but I think it’s awful they put that much pressure on them.

I don’t think it’s any sup­­plier’s place to dictate what retailers have in their showroom. They can’t be independent if they’ve got an appliance brand saying you can only have our ovens in your showroom or you’re off our list.

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