KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-news - since 2002
9th June 2017
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Targeting the top end of the market, Utopia is deliberately competing against European brands to prove inspired British design can not only match but surpass the continental offering.
In a contemporary combination of anthracite metal and oiled oak, the new pull-out shelving system includes a larder unit and various solutions for base units, including Magic Corner options to maximise the usable space in hard to access corners.
With the Election results now in, the Kitchen, Bathroom, Bedroom Specialists Association's national chair Richard Hibbert has been considering the outlook for the sector. Richard says that while much of the focus of the election has been on investment in the NHS, education and social care, Brexit is clearly an issue that will affect businesses because of the terms of the deal and trading agreements and the impact the process will have on the economy.
He quotes a recent British Chamber of Commerce report which suggests that uncertainty over Brexit and the General Election has squeezed spending and reduced retailer margins - which in turn has slowed growth. Anecdotal evidence from KBSA retailers is mixed, however. Some are reporting that the market remains buoyant with average spends rising, albeit with quieter periods during holidays and in the lead-up to the election.
Others suggest that there has been a change this year and things are not quite as good as they were. Footfall remains good and order books are still full but consumers are more cautious and not spending as much. This could be down to uncertainty or simply mean that people have less disposable income.
Richard says typical KBSA customers are older, spending money on their 'empty nest' homes, but these couples are now having to use their money to help their children get on the property ladder, leaving less for them to invest in their own homes. The housing market will remain difficult for some time so this scenario is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Whilst these factors suggest that things may get tougher, the overall economy is in good shape. Manufacturing output has increased during the year by 0.5% mainly thanks to the drop in the value of Sterling.
Unemployment has been steadily falling and now sits at 4.8% compared to a figure of 8% just four years ago and interest rates are at their lowest levels for 50 years. At the same time life is becoming more expensive for the consumer with inflation hitting its highest level in four years, and wages dropping in real terms for the first time in three years.
Like Richard, I feel that with no crystal ball to fall back on, the only certainty we have is that the outlook will be uncertain for some time to come. I hope we as an industry can convince consumers that investment in their properties, in terms of new bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms, will be always be money well spent.
This Week's News
The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation has announced that it is expanding by opening two new regional offices in the north of England this Summer. The initiative is an exciting one for the Institute as it continues the considerable growth it has enjoyed in recent years.
VitrA has launched a brand-new collection of stylish, wall hung bathroom furniture to complement the existing Sento Wall-hung WC. The Scandinavian-designed furniture features delicately rounded profiles in combinations that can be tailored for both smaller bathrooms (50cm compact version) but can be scaled up to suit larger proportioned rooms too.
Stand-out features include LED sensor lighting under the washbasin units which adds to the feeling of space and creates a reassuring glow for children or the infirm, and soft close drawers that fully extend, complemented by non-slip mats in all drawers and glass shelves throughout the range. Sento furniture units can be mounted with or without oak legs or onto a stylish oak console table.
The organiser of the Bathroom & Kitchen Business Conference, has announced the host and the first speaker in the line-up for the day-long 'Creating opportunity out of change' event on 17th October 2017 at The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Sutton Coldfield.
Nick Owen, the television broadcaster, has been secured to host this year's industry conference. Nick has worked in regional and national television since the late seventies. He came to national prominence in the early eighties as one of the first faces to appear on breakfast television in Britain. He was recently awarded an Honorary Doctoraof Letters by the University of Worcester.
With an emphasis on cutting edge design, these magnificent radiators and towel rails have been crafted to make an impact, whether they are specified for a high-end residential property, or within a commercially-focused environment.
Franke has extended its award-winning Maris Plus extractor hood range with the addition of a lustrous white glass colour option in addition to the existing black glass version. The new hood is available now in three sizes of 60, 80 and 90cm to offer wide design flexibility.
The elegant hood has three speed settings and an 'intensive' speed setting for short, powerful bursts to remove unpleasant odours quickly and efficiently.
Zenith, the super-slim work surface from Wilsonart UK, was the first to market of its type and now the first to secure national distribution. The easy-to-install laminate which incorporates a solid black core, has built on success with national retail DIY chains to persuade consumers of the design and adaptability benefits of the range that is just 12.5mm thick.
Following exponential sales of Zenith to specialist kitchen retailers via distribution in England (J P distribution), Wales (Llandaff Laminates), Scotland, and Northern Ireland (Potter Cowan), Wilsonart is completing the national distribution line-up with a partnership with Hadleigh Timber Group and its brands Panelco, Tay Firth and Meyer Timber.
Combined Independents (Holdings), an electrical buying group, part of the Euronics electrical buying group, has launched two new AEG laundry appliances; a washing machine and matching tumble dryer, that are exclusively available to Euronics members.
The AEG 7000 Series freestanding washing machine, boasts an efficient 'A+++' energy rating and, thanks to the OKOInverter motor, ensures the lowest possible energy consumption, while still delivering the highest efficiency and durability.
The Pronteau website from Abode has had a makeover and now includes full details of the new Pronteau 3 in 1 steaming hot water tap collection as well as added functionality and new easy-to-use navigation.
Visitors to the site www.pronteau.co.uk can now easily view Abode's full collection of steaming hot water taps and navigate through all supporting information to help that all-important buying decision from detailed downloadable specification sheets for each model, to technical drawings and installation and care instructions.
New for 2017, Bauhaus has introduced two stunning new basin styles to its Gallery collection: Avillas and Balboa. Taking popular design to the next level, the latest countertop basins have been created to offer a high-quality finish with a slim edge profile, adding to the designer appeal.
The K Kitchens Collection, exclusive to PJH, has introduced a number of new 'families' of kitchen furniture to its range, including the contemporary Alaska family, possesses all the credentials synonymous with the K Kitchens brand - exceptional quality and a number of mid-market pricing options to suit a variety of budgets.
Following the acquisition of Sanitec and the launch of the Geberit Bathroom Collection, specification and retail sales are being brought together under the leadership of Raffaela De Vittorio as UK sales director - specification and retail.
Huddersfield-based engineer, Andy Pullen, founder and owner of waterproof TV manufacturer, TechVision, has come up with a new product that featured on the first episode of the new series of DIY SOS: The Big Build, on BBC 1 yesterday.
"The soundbathe is a nifty little gadget that turns your bath into a giant speaker and plays music from any Bluetooth-enabled device," explains Andy.
PWS tells us it is delighted to introduce its latest product Directory. Widely regarded in the KBB sector as one of most comprehensive kitchen reference sources, the PWS Directory 2017 has been updated to not only include the company's full range of newest products and accessories, but features an improved layout and structure, designed around extensive customer research.
"The PWS Directory is well known in the kitchen industry and viewed as an essential reference guide by the trade," notes John Lennon, managing director of PWS. "Each year we strive to enhance the content and this year is no exception.
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The special Facebook page called 'Crazy 40 years', promoting lots of crazy stories and activities in which Wirquin customers and staff are taking part, can be followed and contributed at facebook.com/wirquin40years/. Other new platforms for Wirquin include Twitter and Linked In, so whether it's new products, career vacancies, new installation videos or problem solving tips the company is sharing it all on social media.
Designers from Ripples' 13 UK showrooms gather for a training day filled with inspiring and motivating speakers, they get the chance to compare design ideas and discuss techniques with their peers. The day is headed by Ripples' sales manager, Nicola Crow.