MHK to launch rival KBB buying group

German retail services provider MHK Group has announced its plan to launch a new buying group aimed at supporting independent kitchen and bathroom retailers in the UK.

Due to launch within the next two months, MHK UK will go head-to-head with both the KBBG, the UK’s first ever buying group for independent kitchen and bathroom specialists, launched in 2013 by Der Kreis, and the Sirius Kitchen Buying Group, which started up last year.

To become a member of the buying group, independents will be required to pay a one-off fee – the exact figure to be confirmed – which will give them access to all of the group’s associated brands, own-branded products, better buying terms and a range of additional services and support.

Parent company MHK Group already operates buying groups in seven major markets and has more than 2,650 retail members across Europe. The company describes itself as the “leading organisation for independent kitchen, bathroom and furniture retailers” and last year achieved a combined turnover of almost €5 billion (£4.28bn).

Speaking exclusively to kbbreview about the venture, managing director Marcel Crezee (pictured), the former chief executive of Der Kreis UK, said: “We are the number-one buying group in Europe and number one in every country we operate in. There is a huge market in the UK for a buying group like us. And our goal is to become number one.

“Through MHK, retailers will have access to product from the leading European suppliers in kitchens, appliances and furniture, at the best possible buying conditions.

“MHK is not a typical buying group, we are involved in other ventures aimed at supporting retail members with targeted services, such as proven marketing concepts and a range of additional supportive business services, including financial support through our own bank and online strategies. We are fully dedicated to ensuring our independent retail members continue to be a success in a competitive market.”

Commenting on the launch of a competitor buying group, Bill Miller, managing director, KBBG said: “The growth of the KBBG has been extremely positive, and we have established a vibrant and successful group of members and suppliers here in the UK.

“Based on our success, we believed that other groups would be eyeing up the market and follow. We wholeheartedly welcome further support for independent retailers, expanding the knowledge, and benefits of buying groups for independent kitchen specialists.

“The infiltration of additional buying groups into the UK clearly underpins their importance and how effective they are. We have an excellent relationship with our suppliers, and our organisational buying power benefits all of our members, and affords the independent kitchen specialist the opportunity to accomplish the very best buying conditions.

“We welcome the competition and the exciting times that lay ahead.”

Crezee revealed that MHK UK is looking for 200 independent retail members within the next three years and revealed that the group already has the backing of a number of Germany’s leading KBB suppliers.

“The exact brands we are in partnership with will be revealed when the buying group officially launches,” he said. “But I can say that the top 10 German manufacturers, both in terms of furniture and appliances, are on board already. We are very strong in the German market, so it was not a difficult task to get them involved.”

In addition to highlighting the general advantages, Crezee claimed that joining a German buying group could also benefit independent UK retailers in light of Brexit.

“Obviously there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, so becoming a member of a buying group that’s owned by a German company is a huge advantage,” he said.

“One of the big benefits of being a part of the MHK Group specifically is that we have our own bank (Cron Bank), which can reduce issues around currency fluctuation.”

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