Are people seeing through the discounts?

With the news that Betta Living has ceased to trade and gone into administration, Stuart Henry Kitchens managing director and designer Russell Buckley believes the discount-heavy sales model may be partly to blame

Our studio is less than a quarter of a mile from an impressive Betta Living studio, so from a selfish point of view I am glad they have gone into administration. It will also help me when I go and see a client that Betta Living has been out to, as I will not have to explain why the suggested design that Betta Living had come up with won’t fit.

As a business model, it seemed to have worked for them for an awful long time, but I have always wondered how they made a profit, because they run very expensive local ads. In fact, our local paper, The Wirral Globe, runs a colour double-page spread every week offering 60% discount, free appliances and interest-free credit. This, of course, in the long term is unsustainable, because you need a massive amount of footfall and purchasers to pay for all the ‘freebies’.

This goes back to what I was saying in the last issue of kbbreview [November, pg36]. They only employ commission-led salespeople, and this means they have to offer ridiculous discounts and freebies to get people in the door and generate the sales to pay for the ads and the commission.

I have been into our local Betta Living studio and, as soon as I have walked through the door, I have been pounced on and not left alone to look around. People are probably sick of this, which must result in fewer genuine leads.

Also, the competition for them has become more fierce from the likes of Howdens, Benchmarx, Wickes and, of course, local independents like ourselves. Maybe people really are seeing through the ‘big discounts’? Given that Magnet’s owners are also saying there has been a slowdown and its model is the same as Betta Living’s, will they end up going the same way?

I genuinely feel for the customers who have paid deposits in good faith and will not be getting their new kitchens before Christmas. Some may even lose their deposits.

Also, thinking of the staff at Betta Living, there is never a good time to lose your job, but seven weeks before Christmas is as bad as it gets. The owners have a responsibility to look after their staff. A business does not just suddenly realise it has no money. It comes over a period of time and it seems that the owners and management of Betta Living have some questions to answer, because it is all too simple to just shut up shop without a thought for anybody but themselves.

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