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Wickes launches installer apprenticeship to help close industry skills gap

WICKES HAS launched a new apprenticeship

scheme for

installers at a time when many in the industry are forecasting a disaster if we do not act now to close the skills gap.

Acknowledging the need for more skilled installers, the home- improvement retailer said it was acting now to introduce the scheme, faced with a current generation of installers that is getting older and changes in EU legislation that may have an impact on the availability of tradespeople. Heightened demand thanks to the coronavirus epidemic has meant, according to a survey by Wickes, that more than

three-quarters of

tradespeople (77%) have more or the same amount of work. Following what was a successful pilot run, the apprenticeship scheme will start properly on January 25.

Wickes is fully funding 48 apprentice places during 2021 and they will be part of the company’s Approved Installer Network. The first intake of eight will start on January 25 and applications are now open for the remaining places.

The scheme is open to anyone, not just young adults. There are positions open across the UK and people can apply at Commenting on the new scheme,

Wickes installations director Tony Brown said: “We’re giving back and supporting the industry we know well through our Approved Installer Network. Installation of kitchens is a very skilled job, and we want to invest in people to help close any skills gaps. “There are many great careers to be had in this industry and opportunities for people in a sector that can be flexible around them or give them the

opportunity to create a small business. I am proud that we’re able to offer such a unique programme like this, we know the industry needs more skilled tradespeople and we hope this is just the beginning of a very successful and long-running programme.”

During their 18 months on the scheme, apprentices will spend 80% of their time on-site with an installer. The rest will be formal training, which will cover trade and life skills, held in seven block weeks at Nottingham- based WEBS Training. This includes modules on fitting a kitchen, behaviour, customer services and setting up your own business.

Michael Hales, one of the installation apprentices on the pilot intake, said: “I’m currently halfway through the scheme, and I can say that this apprenticeship is truly one of a kind. It’s allowed me to gain new skills and

kbbreview Retail & Design Awards wins THREE awards of its own

THE KBBREVIEW Retail & Design Awards has won three major events industry trophies, crowning it as one of the best awards events in the UK. In the Awards Awards 2020, the 2019 kbbreview event took home gold in the ‘Best Experience on the Night’ and ‘Best Development of an Existing Awards’ categories.

It also scooped silver in the ‘Best

Awards Event by a Publisher’ category. The kbbreview Retail & Design

Awards 2019 was held in the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester and marked the 25th anniversary of the event. The venue inspired a steam punk theme and, on arrival, guests were greeted by stilt performers with giant mechanical wings and cog-inspired gyroscopic hoops, while musicians played industrial age junk instruments. At the end of the night, there was a Victorian funfair, including a coconut shy, strong man test and hoopla. Tribute band Noasis rocked the crowd and for an hour after the awards presentation it became a proper gig. Judges praised the event not only for its creativity, but also for how the awards themselves are judged. “We liked the themed entertainment that blended with the location and venue,” they said. “There was obviously

January 2021 ·

confidence for my future career. I feel privileged to be part of this scheme, and it has given me an opportunity of a lifetime

to be hands-on. Everything

from the course, including the onsite WEBS training centre, is outstanding, I had never heard of an apprenticeship like this before, even my friends are jealous of what I am doing and how supported I have been through the programme.

“I feel excited to see what the future brings as I can see myself with my own van, tools and apprentice – carrying on kitchen fitting for the rest of my career. I appreciate the opportunity that’s been given to me by Wickes.” Wickes said that in future it would like to provide tools for all the apprentices to help them set up their own businesses and help provide “a well-rounded and compelling local installation proposition for customers”.

Boost for industry as five bathroom companies make Fast Track 100

THE KBB industry got a real shot in the arm as five bathroom and tile companies made it onto The Sunday Times Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 list, some for the second time.

The league table ranks the 100 private companies in the UK with the fastest-growing sales over the past three years.

Three bathroom companies made the top 100 this year. They were Lusso Stone at 56, Harrison Bathrooms at 63 and Easy Bathrooms at 64.

a huge investment in their rigorous judging process that included visits and interviews. This demonstrated great results and a well-executed theme on the night – well done!” The kbbreview Retail & Design

Awards is held in Birmingham alongside the kbb show in alternate years, but in the other years it will be held in a different host city.

The 2021 awards has launched and, lockdowns permitting, will be held in the St George’s Hall in Liverpool on Thursday, May 20, 2021. “We’re just so delighted to get these

three awards,” said kbbreview events director Mark Pearson. “We work so

hard to

try and make each event different, creative and exciting for our guests and Manchester was a real sea change in how we approach them and it couldn’t have gone better. “Massive thanks must go to our amazing sponsors who go along with us on the journey and these trophies are a testament to their support. “We’re crossing all our fingers that we’ll be able to put on another fantastic event in May in Liverpool.” To find out everything you need to

know the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2021, including how to enter or

to book your seats go to

Lusso Stone focuses on hand- finished stone baths, sinks, showers and countertops. Lusso Stone was in last year’s Fast Track 100 at number 27 and was also

listed in 2018.

Harrison Bathrooms grew its sales to an annualised £18.6 million last year. Easy Bathrooms, has opened 20 new showrooms since July. The bathroom and tile retailer plans to have 65 by the start of 2021. Two tile retailers also made the top

100. Total Tiles, an Ipswich-based retailer that does 90% of its sales online, is in at number 44. Tile Mountain, the Stoke-on-Trent retailer, had a strong 2020 with the opening of its third showroom. It came in at 53.


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