KBB industry reacts to UK election results

As the dust settles on the general election, kbbreview asks leading figures in the KBB industry to give us their thoughts and expectations of the new government.

Last week’s general election was won by Labour with a total of 412 seats, signifying a 33.7% share of vote and prompting a change of government after 14 years of the Conservative party holding office.

As the theme of ‘change’ was the focus of Labour’s manifesto, kbbreview asked leading KBB figures about the changes they expect to see in the near future that could shape the industry.

Tom Reynolds, CEO of Bathroom Manufacturers Association explained that any type of business likes predictability: “The convincing majority achieved by the incoming Labour government will hopefully provide some certainty and confidence to the marketplace.

“Greater political and economic stability should benefit retailers and manufacturers alike. The new administration’s ambitions on housebuilding and home ownership may also inject a stimulus into the bathroom sector, but we need to see how new Minister’s will make those ambitions a reality.”

This feeling was echoed by Paul Wheeler, partner at Kitchen Lifestyles. He said: “We’re coming out of a period where instability has become the new normal and there’s less than ideal confidence in the market. Retailers will be pleased if we could have the next five-year period fairly stable.”

Similarly, Richard Hibbert, national chair of the Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA) said: “I would like some consistency for a change and support for small businesses. We deserve to be listened to as we hold up the country.”

Commenting on customer spending, Shanti Panchani, design director at The Kitchen Consultancy in London said: “We’ve been asking for it for years, but the new government needs to work on some form of incentive for the home improvement market.

“If you go back 16 years when the VAT was reduced from 20% to 15% there was a massive surge in home improvements until the time when they put it back up to 20%. At that point, sales fell off a cliff. If you incentivise people to spend money on their home, then you increase the market share.

“A change of VAT is something that can be done relatively quickly. It gets people investing, whether it’s bricks-and-mortar retail, or kitchens and appliances. There needs to be a financial incentive.”

Shortly after the election results were announced, the British Institute of KBB Installation (BiKBBI) released a statement that congratulated the new government, but also pressed home the urgency of work that needs to be done. The statement read: “We call for enhanced government support for apprenticeships, which are vital for nurturing the next generation of skilled workers.

“The UK is amidst a skills crisis, with a significant shortfall of available competent and compliant tradespeople. By investing meaningfully in apprenticeships, we can ensure that young people have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to thrive in the trades, contributing to the overall prosperity of our economy and ensuring we have a sustainable workforce for the future.

“A fresh look is necessary, not only in the support of training costs, but a holistic approach on how the government can support employers to fund the employment of new talent.”

BiKBBI CEO Damian Walters added: “Collaboration between the government and trade associations is critical and will drive a robust framework for growth, ensuring that the voices of SMEs are heard, and their needs are met. The positive impact of a thriving SME sector cannot be overstated, and it is important that the government listen to and work with those associations that have industry specific expertise.”

Back in May – before the election was called – kbbreview asked KBB businesses what they wanted from the next government, and some leading industry figures also told us what they would put in their manifesto to help the sector if they were running for prime minister.

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