kbbreview Retailer Survey 2020 | RETAIL


What do suppliers think of

What is the current

Here’s one of the biggest questions – given so much talk about political and economic uncertainty, just how are our retailers rating the current health of their business?

Across all our retailers, three-quarters rated their business as good or excellent – and that was broadly consistent across the different sectors. Just 7% of those surveyed rated their business health as diffi cult or poor.

Compared with the same time last year, just over a half of retailers said that was better, much better or signifi cantly up. In 2017 that was much


Retailers who said the health of their business was up

Despite the turbulent market and consumers’ desire to research and source product online, the main competition for our independent retailers continues to be… each other. Just over two-thirds of respondents said other independent retailers were their biggest rivals. Again,

there is little

change in this from 2017. For our kitchen retailers,

that number shot up to 71% but for bathrooms it was much lower with 59% The other big difference online,

was 37% of

bathroom retailers saw it as their main competition, while just two out of all our kitchen retailers agreed. Two-fi fths of kitchen retailers saw specialist multiples such as Wren and Magnet as their main competition, while not a single

January 2020 · kbbreview health of your business?

higher at 60%. This time 20% of retailers said business was down or signifi cantly down on 12 months ago, broadly similar to the 2017 survey. Just over a quarter (27%) of retailers said their business health was average.

Looking separately at the different sectors, 62% of bathroom retailers rated their business as better than 12 months ago, but compare this with a fi gure of 74% for the same question in 2017. For kitchens, 49% said business was better and, again, this is a drop from 2017 where 63% answered positively.

Also relatively static was the health of their order books – with 79% saying they had orders booked in between two and four months. Two-fi fths, however, were reporting order books that were just one or two months ahead.

Just over half said this was about the same as 12 months earlier, with a third saying it was ahead. This is compared with the 2017 survey where 46% said it was ahead. Again, another dip in positivity but also a vote for the status quo despite the wider negative headlines. ANALYSIS: In terms of average orders, business has not changed much since the 2017 survey, but there is a perception for more retailers that business is growing. What this shows us is that overall health might not exactly equate to order value but there is still real tangible positivity in a time of uncertainty.

Who are your main competitors?

37% Bathroom

retailers who see online as their biggest competitor

bathroom retailer thought the same about their equivalent. ANALYSIS: Independents always put themselves above the ‘sheds’ so rarely see them as direct competitors – interesting as the average order value stats indicate more of an overlap than you would think. The competition between independents is fi erce and, as we will see later, it makes marketing all the more important.

It’s interesting that no bathroom retailers see specialist multiples as competition, at fi rst glance this might be put down to the demise of Bathstore but in 2017 that question also yielded the same response.

independent retailers?

A big part of our retailer survey was asking them what they thought of their suppliers, so we thought it was worth again turning the tables and asking suppliers what they thought of retailers. We asked a representative sample of just over 200 kitchen and bathroom suppliers to give us their views on some key areas, just as we did in 2017. Firstly, just how important are independent

retailers to the business? We asked what proportion of their sales came from independents and 58% said more than a half. While, a third of them said it was more than 80%. By far the best thing about working with independents, according to 61% of our suppliers, was that consumers trust their judgement and advice. “The attention to detail and personal service that clients receive is great,” said one. “There is simply great consumer service,” said another. However, this is a drop from the 2017 survey where 72% chose this option. This is followed up with 48% thinking they

are open to new ideas – which leaves many thinking they are not, as we will see later. This is broadly the same as 2017. There is a signifi cant rise in the number of suppliers saying the best thing about retailers is their design skills – with 44% choosing this option, up from 32% last time. Overall, however, working with independents is seen as a very positive experience. “There is a great feeling of partnership and friendship,” said one supplier. “You can fi nd great entrepreneurs who strive to be different,” said another. However, there is always the fl ip side. We asked suppliers what the most frustrating thing about independents is. The top answer, paradoxically, was ‘reluctance to change or do things differently’ with 42%, although that is down from 48% in 2017. The next highest was ‘complaints about online competitors’ at 29%. “Complaints about online price competition seems to be a perpetual problem for independent retailers and one manufacturers


solve for them,” said one supplier. Retailers seem to be improving their administration

suppliers said ‘leaving orders to the last minute unnecessarily’ was a frustration. That number has dropped to 24%.

Other frustrations detailed by some suppliers include ‘failure to understand proper marketing activity’, ‘time it takes to sell off old displays and replace with new’ and ‘taking on too many products instead of maintaining a clear identity to the end consumer’.

though, in 2017 37% of

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