NEWS | Round-up

VIEWPOINT Getting proactive to

solve the skills gap CEO Tom Reynolds on how the BMA is working with the industry to tackle to the skills gap created by the recovery, building boom and ageing installers

THE NATIONAL shortage of installers is one of the most significant challenges facing our industry. Our members are worried about the number of tradespeople installing bathroom products, particularly at the higher end of the market. This has the potential to become a major brake on our collective growth and it is not a problem exclusively confined to installers. We have an ageing workforce and we need to do everything we can to attract new, diverse talent. Thinking creatively is key. Last year, the BMA joined

forces with the Furniture and Interiors Education, Skills and Training Alliance (Fiesta) – which brings together the key trade associations and affiliates from across industries – to do something about the education and training issues we all face. This decision has since been mirrored by The British Institute of Kitchen Bedroom and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI), in a welcome alignment of common goals to ensure that we have the right training and specialist skills to see our respective industries flourish.

Last year, the BMA joined with Fiesta to do something about the training issues we all face

One of our members, Ideal Standard, is capitalising on the opportunities presented by the Government’s current Kickstart scheme, thanks to the support from Fiesta. The Kickstart pro- gramme is helping 16- to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment by creating fully- funded, six-month placements through ‘Kickstart gateways’. Four young people have

started on the first wave of the Kickstart programme at Ideal Standard, getting that first step on to the career ladder in a high-quality job placement. Speaking to Vikki Atkin, senior HR business partner for the UK and Ireland at Ideal Standard, it’s clear they are committed to attracting new talent. She said: “The Kickstart programme is an excellent opportunity for Ideal Standard to play a part in addressing the skills gap and to support the younger generation, who are more impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Although Ideal Standard will not be the direct employer, we are excited to form strong relationships with the Kickstart young people and play an instru- mental part in supporting their exciting journey ahead.” Ideal Standard, in partnership with the BMA and the

Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engi- neering (CIPHE), is also gifting a proportion of its Apprenticeship Levy fund to small businesses within the industry, providing them with the financial support to sponsor their own accredited plumbing apprenticeships. This project is the first of its kind within the industry and is an example of how we all have to be part of the solution.


‘Road scheme could finish our business,’ says London retailer

CAMDEN RETAILER K&I Kitchens may be forced to close if a new road scheme goes ahead that will make deliveries to its showroom impossible. The changes Camden Council is proposing for Baynes Street, where K&I Kitchens is located, will effectively mean that the large lorries supplying the showroom with furniture and appliances will no longer be able to deliver there as there would be no way for them to get out again.

“If the road scheme goes ahead, we are

done,” K&I Kitchens owner Kalin Mihaylov told kbbreview. “The last thing we want as a business in these challenging times is to deal with something like this.” And even though delivery vehicles over 7.5 tons will be permitted to enter the road for access purposes, they would then be prohibited from exiting Baynes Street on to

Royal College Street, as under the new proposals that street would be for buses, emergency and refuse vehicles only. These lorries are also too big to turn around on Baynes Street itself.

Mihaylov explained: “The problem we have is

that the lorries are too big to turn around and then exit the street in the way the Council has proposed. This will mean that we won’t be able to receive deliveries as normal. Our suppliers will simply refuse to deliver to us, which will result in our business collapsing.”

K&I Kitchens’ suppliers have supported Mihaylov by responding to the Camden consultation

in a bid vehicles, while to help other the Council

understand the difficulties the new scheme will cause. The largest lorries from Häcker are 21-ton

suppliers like

Stoneham, Crown Imperial and appliance deliveries are smaller, but around 12 to 14 tons.

Strong Q4 brings ‘better than anticipated’ year for Nobia

A STRONG fourth quarter for Nobia has resulted in full-year results that president and CEO Jon Sintorn described as “better than I would have anticipated back in April”. Nobia, which owns Magnet in the UK, described 2020 as “a very unusual year” but said it had ended 2020 (FY January-December) on a strong note, against a backdrop of a partially closed retail network. Q4 figures for 2020 show that sales hit SKr3.45 billion (£299.7 million) compared with SKr3.44bn in Q4 2019, but with an operating profit of (EBIT) SKr295m (£25.6m) – up 38% on 2019. For the full year, sales in 2020 were down 9% at SKr12.74bn against SKr13.93bn, while operating profit was virtually halved at SKr581m against SKr1.13bn the year before. Analysed by region, net sales for the full year were SKr6.8bn in the Nordics (2019: SKr6.75bn), for the UK it was SKr4.65bn (2019: SKr5.9bn) and SKr1.29bn for Central Europe (2019: SKr1.28bn). In the UK, the operating profit of SKr345m in 2019 became a loss of SKr234m in 2020, although in the Nordics profits were only down from SKr886m to SKr765m. Nobia said that it experienced large coronavirus-driven sales volume declines in the UK and Central Europe in the second quarter.

Sintorn commented: “It has been a huge task on all fronts, first and foremost to ensure the health and safety of our employees, and to deal with the fast-changing business and operational conditions in 2020. On the one hand, we have had positive momentum and underlying demand on the back of home improvement trends, and on the other hand, the lockdowns have caused difficulties for our store network and in keeping operations steady.”

· March 2021

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