NFA MAGAZINE - MAY

line than the price that they sell their service at. There are retailers who do get it right, who charge a fair price for what they do, but in our experience, there are others who have got that financial model wrong and sell on price alone, not their offer. We need more training and more professionalism at point of retail. We sell a bespoke product - that needs to be reflected in price point in general. In the current context where price increases are being fed in from the top of the supply chain, selling effectively at point of retail gives us all a chance of maintaining margin. The end user in most cases has very little understanding of process or price-point. Inflating retail prices to reflect new costs of supply is not unreasonable and based on my experience, won’t even register with the vast majority of homeowners. But to emphasise again, the price increases that we’re seeing now, are unlikely to be isolated. More are likely to come, so everyone needs to review their pricing model to reflect them. Putting this to one side, supply chain stability and the availability of product is something that also concerns me. We are in a stronger position than most, we have partnered with our suppliers for a long-time and we pay our bills. That is going to be important in the months ahead. Companies are likely to prioritize customers who are loyal and who they have an established relationship with. We will do the same.

But we should all be braced for some disruption. The more visibility customers can give fabricators of their order books, the better. It’s also vital that we maintain and manage end- user expectations. We need to be honest about lead times at point of retail and explain why they’re longer than they would normally be. If you’re ordering a new kitchen lead times are out because of COVID, you have to wait for builders (at least the good ones!) consumers will accept longer lead times – as long as we explain why. What we’re seeing is the product of multiple factors. COVID-19 has pushed down and disrupted manufacture of component products, ships have got stuck in canals, containers have been in the wrong place and demand for materials is high across sectors. In short, the last 12-months have exposed some fundamental weaknesses in the global supply chain and it will be interesting to see if that leads some companies to bring more sourcing and manufacture back to the UK. Most fundamentally of all, it is, however, the pressure on supply is the product of end- user demand. That ultimately has to be good because as long as we get through the next few months with our business relationships intact, we can be confident about sustained demand through to the end of the year at the very least.

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