Round-up | NEWS

Retail recruitment nightmare looming

THE SKILLS gap and the fact that employees can pick and choose where to work is proving to be a double-whammy for independent KBB retailers struggling to recruit the staff they need.

Elizabeth Pantling-Jones from Lima Kitchens in Milton Keynes and Luke Wedgbury from Coalville Kitchens in Leicester spoke on The kbbreview Podcast [Season 2, Episode 10] about why it’s so hard to find the right people. Wedgbury is finding all areas difficult to recruit for as he currently has multiple vacancies on his design and installation teams. He said: “The skills gap is so huge on the installations side that trying to find the right guys to put in our clients’ homes is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.” He added: “On the design consul- tant side, that essentially again comes down to the skill set. We’ve had lots of applicants, because we are trying to be as proactive as we possibly can, but they just don’t have the skills to jump in and get going straight away, which in an ideal world is what, as independents, we are after.” The overwhelming demand over the past year has meant that a lot of companies need new recruits that can hit the ground running.

Pantling-Jones added: “We need people to come in and lighten the workload and pick things up immediately. But, at the same time, you want it done, as an independent business, in the way that you like things to be done. Getting someone with the experience in line with the way that you work is really difficult.” Training also takes time that can affect the business in the short term. At Coalville Kitchens, their on-boarding process, even for experienced designers, is six to eight weeks and up to 10 times that if they have no skills. Coalville Kitchens is looking at training programmes for those with no experience and last year the company employed an apprentice installer. However, Wedgbury knows that this will not solve the short-term issues.

Fitted bedroom furniture manufacturer Sharps sold

SHARPS, ONE of the UK’s leading suppliers of fitted bedroom furniture, has been acquired by Epiris.

The independent private equity firm bought Sharps from an affiliate of Sun European Partners, a private investment advisory firm, for an undisclosed sum. Completion, subject to regulatory consent, is scheduled for the end of September. Sharps chief executive Kevin Smith said: “Our partnership with the Sun team has been a great success. We are extremely proud that, today, Sharps is the number-one market player in the bespoke fitted bedroom furniture market. “At Sharps, we focus on delivering a customer-first strategy with our bespoke fitted furniture products, providing unique, space-efficient solutions. This, combined with Sun European’s strong operations team and capabilities, has enabled us to establish Sharps as the highly-regarded brand it is today.” The bedroom furniture business based in Bilston, West Midlands, has an omnichannel approach with both digital sales and showrooms across the UK. During the ownership of Sun European, Sharps was able release new products while adapting to the new market. There were changes made to its marketing, with direct-to-consumer sales and advertising, which was said to lead to growth within the company.

August 2021 · 7

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