I was pleased and proud to recently join a panel of Industry experts to discuss ongoing issues faced by the Plumbing, Heating & Bathroom sectors. This event was organised by Builders Merchants News, sponsored by The IPG and included representatives from several IPG members together with senior representatives from the supply side including BRISTAN; TRACE HEATING and MUELLER Europe.
For my Blog this month then I consider the issues discussed below.
The first topic was the crucial relationship between customer and supplier. The consensus was that increasingly this is developing into a partnership arrangement wherein loyalty, trust and mutual support tend to be key in leading to a “win/win” for both parties. But what of the Independent Merchant themselves? What does the future hold with regards to the services that they need to offer their installer and plumber customers?
My own, personal, belief is that an Independent Merchant has unique advantages over larger national competitors. Specifically the Independent Merchant tends to have more in-depth product knowledge and a “personal touch” that their customers appreciate. They “care”.
This leads quite naturally onto the question of work/life balance and particularly how this has been so impacted by furlough.
In 2019/2020 over 800,000 people in the UK suffered from work related depression, stress or anxiety leading to the loss of nearly 18 million working days. As well as the strictly human element then stress leads to bad decisions and these can clearly impact a business. My feeling is that, just like the supplier customer relationship, there needs to be partnership & trust between employer and employee. Again there is a mutual benefit. Company objectives can be broken down to individual member staff level leading to personal development plans and even occupational qualifications. The Company wins by employing better skilled people and the individual employees achieve an enhanced job satisfaction and a stronger CV.
At a time when the World has been forced to consider the dangers on environmental impact then the penultimate subject was a consideration of green issues. In this regard then DAVANT are ahead of the curve with over 80% of our products being manufactured with a significant % of recycled material.
Finally, and a subject close to my own heart, was the balance of imported products as against UK manufacture. My strong prediction, in light of both BREXIT and the weaknesses in supply chain from the Far East, and exposed by the pandemic, is a significant repatriation of manufacturing back to the UK. Cost/benefit analyses reveal that “other costs” attached to the importation of product can actually result in a margin neutral position if products are manufactured in the UK.
This is a subject that I will return to in future blogs. At the end of the day why would we not all wish to buy British?
Group Managing Director