The year ahead | FOCUS

incredibly resilient’ Dave Barber, UK MD for Ideal Standard, predicts a challenging year but a positive outlook for retail

Q & A

Q: Where do you think the industry will go in the next year? A: The experience of, and bounce back from, Covid-19 have shown that

our industry is incredibly

resilient. There is still a huge amount of pressure to tackle the housing shortage, so we’ll be working hard to continue to support the residential housing market. Retail has already had a resounding rebound from the pandemic, as many people have used the time and the money saved to rebuild and renovate their homes. We’ve also seen a huge growth in e-tail,

so I think this sector will

perform strongly next year. Ideally, this should continue into 2022, providing the level of

unemployment doesn’t rise significantly. But with vaccines ready to be rolled out, I have a strong sense of positivity for our industry.

Q: What will be the main challenges going forward? A:

‘Our industry is

Coloured wash basins from Ideal Standard

It wouldn’t be an interview without mentioning the elephant in the room – Brexit. Leaving the European Union will be one of the main issues that we’ll need to work together to mitigate the impact of. From Ideal Standard’s perspective, all eventualities have been considered and robust contingency plans have been prepared. Due to our unique position as the only large-scale bathroom manufacturer in the UK, Brexit is unlikely to have an impact on our capacity for production or to supply customers.

Q: What is your advice for retailers to make sure they thrive this year? A: I would advise them to continue to strive to stand out in their area of the market. Retailers need to continue to offer the great service and advice that they are already known for, as there will always be a need for

flexibility and creativity

from customers, as well as a demand for

retailers that consumer journey. enhance the

Q: How would you rate your confidence in your business over the year ahead out of 10? A: I’d say 8. I have high confidence for our business in 2021. The fundamentals of our company remain strong and we have some very exciting product launches coming through the pipeline over the next few months. I’m looking forward to putting 2020 behind us and moving forward to a challenging, but exciting and successful year.

‘Q1 will be the most testing’

The team at InHouse Inspired Room Design put their heads together to give us their insights into the year ahead

Franke Mythos MYX stainless steel sink

‘Product supply remains an issue’

Franke UK MD Neil Clark believes consumer demand will continue into 2021 but that the supply chain will be an issue


here’s no doubt that product supply remains an issue at the moment. Demand for domestic kitchen products

has rebounded much more strongly than we expected, across most markets internationally. Going into 2021 we have the additional challenge of the UK’s departure from the EU and there will be friction through UK ports that will result in delays and risk during the first half of the year.

Manufacturers can mitigate this risk by increasing

stock levels for the foreseeable future and we are working with our supply chain to do exactly that. There is still a great deal of uncertainty within the

UK economy, but I expect consumers’ appetite for home improvement to continue well into 2021. Changes to the stamp duty relaxation may slow down the housing market from Q2, but I think overall demand will remain positive.

January 2021 · Q & A

Q: What’s your view on the forecast for next year and the year after? Wayne Dance [MD]: After the shock of 2020, we cannot truthfully predict what will happen in 2021. The first quarter will definitely be the most testing. We’ll begin to see the impact of Brexit. The extension of the furlough scheme is mitigating the impact of Covid-19 and the Government will take until March at least to distribute the vaccine widely. It is only then that they will release restrictions.

Steven Jaques [Pelipal national develop- ment management]: We face some significant challenges but once we get the initial ramifications of Brexit out of the way, I remain optimistic for the remainder of the year. It’s a possibility that demand could outstrip supply.

Q: What are going to be the main challenges? SJ: One factor is that supply will struggle to meet demand. Delays in shipping from places like China are impacting all elements of the supply chain. Equally, while we have had tax deferrals and business loan schemes, businesses will need to be well-managed to mitigate these in the medium to long term. Malo Tasle [director]: Coronavirus has accelerated what was already happening. People are using online a lot more and fewer will shop in the traditional way, even for high- ticket items. We’ll need to invest more in our websites and e-commerce platforms and review our online digital marketing and social media.

Q: What’s your advice for retailers to make sure they thrive in the coming year? Stuart Dance [director]: Some of the more ‘old-school’ retailers need to take advantage of the tools and technology available. One of the biggest learnings is that the showroom space isn’t everything. Adapting their service offering is what’s making the difference – whether it’s improving their website or investing time and resource into digital marketing and social media. Forward planning is important as we’re not certain that the boom in home improvements will continue.

Also, people will be returning to travelling and holidays abroad, so there’ll be more competition for their spend.

Q: How would you rate your confidence in business and why? WD: I’m a believer in ‘half full’ rather than ‘half empty’, so I’m going to score a 10, even though we still have Covid and also Brexit to contend with. We’re working closely with our retailers to ensure that they have the support, advice and guidance to make the most of 2021.

Q: What do you think will be the main areas for growth or decline in the next 12 months? MT: The top end of the market is well protected and we are very optimistic about


opportunities for next125. SJ: It is important to remain optimistic. Negativity stifles sales. The mid to upper market sector will be the growth market in these tough times. Modular furniture rather than fitted bathroom furniture will continue to grow.

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