Getting through it together
Welcome to Issue 9 of the View and may I take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. We start this year in familiar territory with the implementation of the third national lockdown since March 2020.
The restrictions that this lockdown puts on both our personal and business lives are put into a very stark perspective when we compare this with the increasing crisis within the healthcare sector and daily numbers of both positive cases and sadly deaths.
I know that the challenges that we within the KBB sector are facing in our daily lives are considerable and our businesses are not running as smoothly or efficiently as we would like. However, the current buoyant state of our sector compared to many others makes me very thankful right now for what we have, compared to what could be.
Our commitment to you, our partner, over the coming weeks is to work with you to achieve the best results possible whilst taking into account the considerable challenges placed upon us by the wider national lockdown.
Please stay patient and considerate during this time, and I am sure we will all come through this together.
All the best and stay safe.
Cover image: courtesy of Roundhouse see their article page 7
Strengthen your resolve...
As we bid farewell to the horrible year that was 2020, many of us would have been longing for a fresh start and healthy new beginnings. If you're one of those people who always likes to set out objectives for personal improvements and life changes in January, then you might welcome some help to ensure that these resolutions are long-lasting.
Your plan could be a resolve to eat or drink less (sorry if View#8 encouraged quite the opposite of that), exercise more, take proper holidays or keep to a better sleep regime. We came across an article from the Harvard Medical School which takes a quick look at the psychology behind making resolutions – the process of dreaming them up, how to manage the commitment, breaking them down into stages and ways to reward ourselves along the way.
The Harvard approach to making them stick seems to be all about creating new habits. Such new behaviour, they suggest, won't become second-nature overnight "So, keep nudging yourself in the direction you'd like to go."
This short article is a realistic look at what can be done to make consistent progress towards our objectives that we have at the start of the new year. It advocates being honest about what you're setting out to achieve, how big (or small) those goals need to be and acknowledges that there will be both payoffs and costs along the way.
Let us know if things are still going strong in Febuary!
Written by Peter Sharratt
Making your life easier
Blum jigs and templates are designed to be used by anyone using Blum hardware which is great, but what if you want something with a little more power? Here at Blum, we have a collection of machines which make construction both more accurate and quicker. For those who may enjoy the luxury of a workshop. I want to talk a little today about our most popular machine, the MINIPRESS P, and also how it can benefit from EASYSTICK.
The MINIPRESS P has been around for over 30 years and has become the mainstay for many manufacturers, often one of the first machines purchased when they begin to grow as a business.
In many workshops, the MINIPRESS P is always there, working day in day out with not much thought given to it. It’s just there doing its job with little fuss. We often see the MINIPRESS being set up to do just one job, say just door hinges with a fixed position which can really speed up production. However, the machine can do so much more, which often leads to us seeing manufacturers purchase second, third or more to do different specific tasks.
So why is this?
Normally larger manufacturers rely on batch production of parts, constant repetition, and this is an effective way to achieve repeated accuracy. As soon as changes are made though, errors can creep in, so it is easier to set the machine up and then not interfere with the settings. However, not all manufacturers have the necessary space to operate a second machine.
Are there any alternatives that can offer the same result without the need for additional space?
This is where I want to introduce the EASYSTICK as a solution or upgrade to the smaller workshop that looks to increase productivity whilst keeping flexibility.
EASYSTICK is a computer-controlled fence system which works with the Blum MINIPRESS P and is an option for both those who want to retain flexibility or those looking to upgrade their existing machine.
The art of spinning plates
This year Roundhouse celebrates its 25th Birthday. We spoke to their MD Craig Matson as he reflected on the end of an unforgettable 2020 and looked forward to opportunities in the coming year.
The brand, always associated with being ahead of the design curve, is looking at expansion and has a new website under development – to be revealed very soon. They’ve spent 12 to 18 months preparing a different product offer to sit next to Roundhouse’s highly respected Design Collection. It’s a more cost-effective range that shares the same high standards of production and service and will be featured in a number of showrooms.
Craig talked to us about R&D, the use of experimental materials and the concept of ‘service’ in his product-dominated world. Across every aspect there’s a sense that business for him is about constantly looking to do things better and finding ways to turn difficulties to your advantage.
He eloquently describes this in a visual metaphor; a company with more, faster moving plates in the air as it becomes confident in its ability to juggle.
Continued on next page...
The main challenge that Craig feels Roundhouse could face (in common with many in the sector) arises from the time lag with new kitchen orders. He therefore regards 2021 as a ‘consolidation year’ as a result of sales being lighter in 2020. Education, an area incredibly important to him personally, is also where major challenges are still to be addressed – “We’ve got a big hole to fill”. He points to the need for improved education across the whole sector. Whilst wishing to avoid politics, Craig says that making it happen is often scuppered by endless bureaucracy and too many hoops to jump through. In his opinion, the industry at large hasn’t embraced the skills gap yet and the government needs to make it easier to bridge.
We also touched on Europe during our conversation and the ‘B’ word. Craig described Covid-19 and Brexit as being “bundled into one” and reminded us that supply chain issues already existed throughout last year, not least of which is the worldwide shortage of dishwashers. On the plus side, Roundhouse sells a product that has a high proportion of skilled labour to produce their offering, and this, he suggests, allows it to be resilient in the current climate. At the time of writing, Craig made the point that it’s impossible to predict its impact when none of us know exactly what shape Brexit will take!
Turning to ambitions for the year ahead, we understand that for his wife a New Year Resolution would be focussed on both of them spending more time at home! Aside from any plans that his partner might have, Craig told View that his own business goal in 2021 will be to “...appreciate what we’ve got and make more of it”. A mantra that perhaps we might all be wise to adopt.
We should appreciate what we've got and make more of it.
MD Craig Matson
Managing the marketing mix
Inspire KBB offers sales and marketing consultancy to independent retailers within the KBB Industry. View are encouraged that David Barker, the MD, offers free advice for retailers via The Big KBB Marketing Call, every five weeks.
Some may have heard David’s recent appearance on the kbbreview Podcast where he covered the subject of “marketing when demand is high”. Within the segment, David answers the question as to whether retailers should still be advertising, which is an unequivocal yes. The more important question, he explains, is what is your advertising goal? The answer to this entirely depends on whether you are operating at capacity. So, it’s either a message to increase brand recognition or to generate healthy leads.
Advertising is currently a large variable for retailers. To get the right kind of customer, you need the correct message around price and product to ensure the right kind of customer is approaching you before any conversation takes place. If you get the message right, show potential customers that you want to help them, you are making the right kind of noise for your business. Doing so consistently will also allow your brand to develop its image for those who aren’t currently looking to purchase a kitchen today, but might be in the next five years. David placed emphasis on the fact that consumers purchase from companies they recognise, so by ensuring your local area understands who you are before they need a new kitchen, your company is in a much better place to attract new business.
If you are after a more comprehensive explanation, the Big Marketing Call is available to join, where you can find current, relevant advice from David. His most recent talk explained how retailers can make the most out of Google and the benefits of the search engine. This includes the need for creating familiarity with your audience. The challenge for kitchen retailers is that purchasing a kitchen is a rare occurrence for most consumers, making familiarity harder to achieve. Social media, radio, magazines and outdoor media allow your business to be quietly marketed, meaning that the subtle brand recognition is in place when a consumer starts their project.
Water, water everywhere...
have concerns about water quality
If you plan to cut back on single-use plastics this year, but feel it’s going to be a challenge this study might be of interest. According to research commissioned by GROHE, half the nation feels the same! GROHE looked at Britain’s views on water quality, plastic consumption and the extent of our caffeine-drinking habits in a YouGov study...
SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
• 1 in 5 are concerned about water quality
• 68% of people are now committed to not buying plastic bottles at the supermarket in an average week
• 49% of people are keen to avoid single-use plastic but find it difficult to do so
• 18-24 year olds are paving the way for a more sustainable future, with a third actively avoiding purchasing single-use plastic
• Almost 3 in 10 people (29%) have increased their tea and coffee intake since lockdown
• 55% of tea and coffee drinkers find it helps relieve stress, aide relaxation, boost mood or provide a pick-me-up when feeling upset
• North East and Wales are the UK’s biggest tea and coffee drinkers.
Perfect Paints by Linda Parker
This year, interiors-wise, there’s been a lot of talk about colour. After the horrid year we’ve all just had, some of us with time on our hands, there was a sense of quick updates and/or make-overs being easily achieved with a coat of paint. Strong colours were, and still are, super-popular, so we thought we’d bring you some of our recent favourites...
In The Dark
Forest greens, teals, navy blues and dark greys are all popular cabinet colour choices, but it does take a bit of courage to choose such a shade for a smart new kitchen. There is always the thought that a subtle neutral or a natural timber finish will be have a longer style life, so to speak. As far as kitchens are concerned, designers can suggest using these darker shades as a wall finish instead, or perhaps for a feature such as a the island, or perhaps an over mantel or floating shelves.
• Pair dark cabinets with white or ivory coloured work surfaces to emphasis the contrast
• If your client is keen on adding a bold, dark, shade, suggest a painted wall section between work surface or upstand and wall cabinets. Protect with a bespoke clear toughened glass panel if near the sink
• For full-on impact, dark walls contrast well with a pristine white ceiling and coving/cornice.
• Think about the flooring too – a light-coloured 5 stone or porcelain tiled floor will enhance the appearance of the floor area. Dark floors can sometimes ‘shrink’ the perceived floor space.
Perfect Paints continued...
Perfect Paints continued...
Lighter & Brighter
However much we enjoy bold colours, soft neutrals are not going to go away! Neutrals are calming and relaxing, and of course there’s always the option to create a splash or statement with statement accessories. Our choice of warmer neutrals here shows how they can work with timber floors and painted cabinetry to emphasise a timeless and welcoming look that can work within traditional and contemporary schemes.
Paint: What’s What
Acrylic or Water-Based Eggshell is generally used for painted cabinetry. Try options such as Intelligent Eggshell from Little Greene, which is a durable low-sheen finish that can be used on walls, woodwork and metal work (such as radiators and pipes) Estate Eggshell from Farrow & Ball is also water-based, with a 20% sheen silk finish and is low-odour and low VOC.
Matt or Silk emulsion is suitable for walls, silk or specific finishes recommended for kitchens perform best if the walls are likely to get splashed or be in the vicinity of steam. Consider Easycare Kitchen + Matt from Dulux, which is washable, as well as being formulated to resist grease and stains. For an intense, soft-looking finish for feature walls, Suede Textured Matt finish from Crown is tactile and is an interesting choice for perhaps the living-family room end of the kitchen!
On-hand and online to help
Victoria Trimmer from the Blum Experience Centre
Just because the Blum Experience Centre’s doors are closed, doesn’t mean the minds behind it are slowing down. The kettle is on and biscuits are baking in preparation for when we can reopen the Experience Centre as normal. However, until that day comes Blum is still here to help you plan a kitchen, understand our product range, advise showroom presentation and other assistance in a more hands-on approach if you need it. Virtual consultations are currently available with Amanda Hughes or me and we are happy to cover a broad range of topics to ensure we can assist you.
First question, how would you go about booking in a virtual consultation? Well, you can find our Experience Centre enquiry form on Blum.com or click here to fill out our request form to arrange a virtual consultation through Zoom. We always appreciate a little knowledge of the project beforehand so we can make sure we’re ready for you. Whether it’s to discuss what you should be considering at the idea stage as a consumer, or if you’re a designer wanting to deep dive into the world of Blum products.
So far, we have been able to provide a handful of virtual consultations allowing the opportunity for virtual tours of our facilitates and product ranges. So realistic several guests felt like they were here with us. Acknowledging everyone’s needs are different, we will evaluate what we think will work best for you whether you’re a retailer, manufacturer, architect or end-consumer. If you come across a particular product that takes your fancy during the consultation, we are happy to involve our dedicated technical team to provide any additional support you made need about the specifics of Blum products.
To date we have been able to help everyone who has come to the Experience Centre for help, whether that it is in person or virtually, and we have no intention of stopping now. So, if you are involved with kitchen planning or just want a look around our showroom, feel free to drop us an enquiry and we will see how we can help you. Click here to register your interest in a Virtual consultation with the Blum experience centre.
Blum UK, Mandeville Drive,
Kingston, Milton Keynes, MK10 0AW
Tel +44 1908 285700