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BHETA explores today’s routes to market

BHETA’s networking forum on September 26 provided a great insight into all the potential routes to market for home improvement suppliers, especially those seeking options to complement their traditional multiples’ business. It also reinforced the need for all such opportunities to be explored.

Guest speakers from Selco, ManoMano and Stax combined to provide the perfect overview of the market, complemented by a practical and up to the minute assessment of the post-BREXIT economic situation from Paul Martin, Head of Retail at KPMG. Paul Grinsell, BHETA’s home improvement sector director also announced a number of new member events and initiatives across banking, export, GDPR, Meet the Buyer and marketing and communications.

Joint MD of Stax, David Hibbert outlined the opportunity provided by the independent retail market – illustrating how the wholesale route can provide the perfect access for suppliers, eliminating the challenge of maintaining an on the road salesforce. As David explained, Stax experienced significant growth last year with 2016 sales at £115.2 million with £18 million worth of product in held stock. A £10 million investment over the last five years has seen new branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham. The company carries 35,000 products, sold into 50,000 businesses with the help of 19 sales representatives.

ManoMano is a new and exciting home improvement sales platform, now breaking into the UK market. Country Manager of the French internet home improvement and garden specialist, Nils Kernchen was joined by colleagues, Christina Cooper, UK Communications Manager and Clive Daley, Interim Head of Development to illustrate the opportunities for UK suppliers. Big in France, growing from €1 million to €200 million in four years, and also working in Spain and Italy, Germany and the UK are its next targets. Trading here for one year, it achieved a £4.4 million to date with £13 million targeted for the UK in its next trading year. Using social media to create a ‘network of ambassadors’, the company also uses TV advertising in France plus traditional press work. The company describes itself as a ‘modern day shop window’, listing 177,000 products for home improvement and asks suppliers for range, competitive prices, the ability to manage orders and B2C transactions and ‘the ability to ‘wow’ customers’.

Finance Director, Rob Brewill of Selco Builders Warehouse – the trade exclusive self-select service builders’ merchant – outlined not only the history of the company, but also the opportunities it offers to home improvement suppliers wishing to target the jobbing builder. Now with 59 stores with seven more lined up for 2018, Selco invests heavily in building relationships with so-called ‘White Van Man’ via extensive advertising and sports sponsorship. Rob highlighted a number of added value areas including tool hire – whole range including smaller items such as wheel barrows, online – click & collect and extended ranges – such as door furniture – so that a builder can take a traditional specification job that little bit further.

Paul Martin – Head of Retail at KPMG updated the forum on the latest on BREXIT, confirming many suspicions that the powers that be are ‘spending ages thinking about what MIGHT happen’, but as for what is actually going to happen: ‘They just don’t know.’ Illustrating the implications of such uncertainty, Paul added that in his experience, ‘many businesses are looking to relocate, due to the uncertainty.’ He predicted that negotiations will last at least two to three years and that organisations need to become ‘leaner and meaner’. ‘We do a lot of work in the UK but we’re not very productive’, he claimed, compared to European and US competitors.

It was a salutary thought which put the very many different opportunities illustrated by the BHETA Forum’s other speakers into sharp perspective. The need to maximise all opportunities is the key to the future of UK business.

For more information about the breadth of opportunities available, contact BHETA’s Member Services Team on info@bheta.co.uk or 0121 237 1130.

Source: BHETA

October 2017

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