Business check | RETAIL

Express Bathrooms, Kitchens, Tiles Simon Morgan, manager

I think people are becoming more confident and are fed up with Brexit and holding on to their money. Business has picked up quite well this year. It’s been better than the beginning of last year, so we’re full of optimism. And the internet isn’t as bad as it once was – the competition from that side has diminished as people have bought online, been bitten and won’t buy online again. A lot of those internet players don’t offer the same levels of customer service, so if something goes wrong, a replacement product isn’t as easy to come by and problems are harder to fix. I think the online players have exhausted their customer base, so now people are turning back to bricks-and-mortar showrooms. We pride ourselves on our high level of service and experience. All of the staff,

bar one, have 10 or more years in this industry, so we know what we’re talking about and that’s what people pay for.

In terms of advertising, we use the local paper and radio, but we don’t hold any events here. The local market is fairly buoyant. Foot traffic is up, and getting people through the door is half the battle.

Looking at the average age of our customers, they’re getting younger. Average age of a customer used to be about 55, but now we’re seeing young couples coming in. I think young people nowadays have slightly different priorities and they’re happy to save up for a nice home or car.

Our average spend is hard to say – with kitchens it varies quite a lot, from £2,000 to £20,000.

People are turning back to bricks and mortar

Hereford Kitchens Mark Dunn, director

Signature Interiors Chris Middleton, store manager

Business has been fairly buoyant. We’re up on last year and previous years for this quarter. I think we’re doing so well because we do the whole package – bathrooms, flooring, carpets and tiles. So for our contract and retail customers, we’re a one-stop-shop and it’s nice and easy for them. It’s easier for the customer to visualise what the finished project will look like when we can show them everything. It gives us an edge over the competition. We have seen a bit of a drop in order values, so we’ve

been trying to source more cost-effective alternatives for clients. We work with smaller developers and Brexit is something they’re concerned about. They’re worried about building four- or five-bedroom houses and having them sit there unsold, so they’ve been waiting and might go down the route of apartments. A lot of the bigger developers are building, so our

We get busier and busier year on year and we’ve been in this phase since last April where we haven’t been able to empty our desks. Business is frantic.

I think the reason is our totally honest approach. I’m an ex-fitter, so people trust us to do the job properly. They appreciate the way I can talk them through the job in a way not all retailers could. We don’t see ourselves as salesmen, we just want to do a great job. All our work comes from recommendations. Average spend on a kitchen is £12,000 to £15,000. People are very confident at the moment. They’ve been stuck in a rut for a while, but now they want to spend. That’s good for us, as it means people are moving and are likely to change things. There is lots of house building going on and although we don’t get that involved in contract work, we do work with a couple of builders. They trust us to do a good job and give them what they want for the right budget. Some developers miss a trick. They skimp on the kitchen then have to drop the price of the house by £5,000 to £10,000 to sell it, when an extra spend of £500 would have made all the difference.

We get busier and busier year on year

Herefordshire has a lot of retirees who have moved in from all over the south and a lot of the younger people here seem to be fairly affluent. I’m very confident about the future. If I could hire another designer today I would, but I just can’t find one.

June 2019 · kbbreview 83

Things are going to step up a gear

contract clients want to offer something different from the run-of-the-mill. That’s why they choose us. We offer that point of difference – quality German kitchens. Brexit is an issue, but talking to reps that are coming in, it seems that those with a diverse offering are perhaps doing a bit better than those who just do one thing. Average age of our customers is 40+ and average spend on a kitchen is anywhere between £8,000 and £20,000. Bathrooms are £5,000 to £6,000. We’re really confident about the future. The business is only seven years old this year and we feel that we’ve done OK so far, but that things are going to step up a gear. We’ve committed to more advertising and had our website redone.

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