Our magazine of moving
ideas for changing times

issue#2

Adapting and becoming stronger

Welcome to the second edition of view by Blum. Firstly thank you for your positive feedback following our first edition, the editorial team are continuing to work in the background to research and come up with interesting articles that can help us all navigate through the upcoming months.

From a Blum perspective June was a very encouraging month in terms of trading patterns and had given us the confidence that our industry will come through this time in a position of strength rather than being weakened by the experience.

We will continue to ramp up our operations in July and assuming no further outside setbacks we are aiming to return to a full complement of staff as soon as possible.

I hope this edition provides you with information and opinion to help you and your business adapt and strengthen. As always any feedback or inputs from your side are most welcome.

All the best and, most importantly, stay healthy.

Regards

Previous page: cover image courtesy of JJO
see their story on page 6

Managing brain strain

Along side the obvious concerns for physical health few would disagree that since March it has become increasingly important to look after our emotional well being. There’s a wealth of advice online and in this short review we take a look at a selection.

Firstly, our much loved NHS outline the twelve key areas that have mattered (and will continue to do as remote working, social distancing and financial woes remain with us).

Read NHS tips

Specialist lawyers Bolt Burdon Kemp have released a Mental Health Training guide, with great advice on boosting your brain health. From Mediterranean diets that make a big difference, and the right choice of music for staying calm, to suggestions on leisure activities that are considered ‘cognitively stimulating’, they offer some fascinating insights. You can read their complete guide to a healthy brain here.

Go to the mental health guide

Lockdown has been difficult for many of us. However, for some at least being in full lockdown meant that things felt more certain and structured, as the rules were clearly defined. Now everything might start feeling less clear, and these people face a whole new set of challenges. If you are one of those individuals the mental health charity Mind has some advice that could help. Their dedicated web page delves into feelings you might be experiencing around lockdown easing. It also provides tips on coping with these feelings and where to get additional support.

Read MIND advice

If none of these fit in your needs and perhaps you want someone to actually talk to, here are signposts to sources of one-to-one help.

Mental health helplines

Remember when the pressure of leaving lockdown, returning to work and restarting day-to-day life in a safe way gets to you – you’re not alone!

Watch this video to find out how Andrea and her colleagues are still here to help...

Andrea Hillier Is our National Territory Manager (Retail) based in Northamptonshire. She has been with Blum for more than 20 years. During lockdown Andrea has been rekindling her love for cooking, painting and crochet – and she can still be seen dancing in her lounge!

Contact her: andrea.hillier@blum.com

Sending an SOS for KBB

The pressure being placed on so many companies in our sector is forcing them to make tough decisions. Many individuals and families are suffering as the inevitable redundancies caused by the coronavirus downturn begin to bite.

In response, Kbbreview has launched the Save Our Skills campaign to support our own jobless community so that decades of valuable experience isn’t lost, but stays within the kbb industry. The main thrust of their campaign is a promise to send out a weekly email to the entire Kbbreview database with the details of anyone in the industry who has recently been made redundant. Potential employers can then quickly see who is available and directly contact any candidates of interest. Transmission of the first mailer went out on Monday 15 June listing the first six people and has continued since.

Stephen Johnson the MD of Quooker who are sponsoring the weekly mailouts described the challenges the industry faces as a choice “To shrivel up and remain inward focused, or to work together sharing expertise and resources, to help the industry re-build, recover and thrive.” He believes, as do Blum, that it’s essential we unite in the face of this crisis. Along side the editorial team of Kbbreview Stephen urges us all to get involved, because “We need to keep the skills in this industry...”

If you have lost your job during lockdown
and want to be included follow this link

On the socials... #kbbrsaveourskills

"We need to keep the skills in this industry..."

Stepping up in Bacup

JJO was founded over 150 years ago and is now a leading supplier to many of the best outlets within the industry. The company produces over 600 kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms in a normal week. With nearly 400 employees furloughed at the beginning of the crisis, 1 sales manager infected with coronavirus (thankfully making it safely through ICU), security lodge staff manning the phone lines and a 37 strong delivery fleet grounded – life has been anything but normal since mid-March.

We caught up with MD Stephen Greenhalgh, in the Rossendale Valley, on their rocky journey through CV19 and his thoughts on adapting to survive. Talking to Stephen it’s clear the pain has been felt across the business and anecdotally even end customers as far away as Cornwall have suffered.

In February and March due to events unfolding in China the prevalent mindset was inward looking and it was logical to think that stockpiling of components and white goods was the way to go, he explains. As Stephen openly admits “We got our angle of attack

wrong at first, because we were concerned about the supply chain solely”. Stephen recalls that even before lockdown measures were fully enforced the company was starting to take things more seriously and began running a split production shift to essentially divide the workforce into separate AM and PM teams.

“If I had known then what I know now” says Stephen “I would have liquidated my pension and stocked up on loo rolls!” Joking apart, on the question of lessons learnt there appears to be a realisation of how much goodwill exists among the staff team. When it came to stepping up to the plate “Our people really proved themselves able to multi-task” adds Stephen. Just 15–20 selected members of staff attempted to juggle the roles of the regular 350+ workforce. For those stuck at home, JJO paid 20% to top up the Job Retention Scheme payments and honoured its obligation to staff where possible.

In every Covid cloud there is a silver lining. Stephen has spotted that some buying trends have been accelerated and in terms of their handleless Moderna range he has been amazed to see how many orders

have been placed. Stephen puts this down to the fact that JJO can supply these kitchens fully assembled in three weeks or flat, ready-to-assemble in just three days – none of the overseas competition comes close to this kind of turnaround. According to the latest results “Certain moderately selling lines have rocketed to top sellers” notes Stephen “Overall 70% of the usual sales figures for this time of the year were reached by the end of June”.

On the subject of the next steps, it looks cautiously optimistic and will most likely involve a steady increase of services. The skeleton delivery schedule established in May (mainly to builders and builders merchants) is soon to be enhanced. JJO will be returning to more deliveries from 13 July. This will consist of two long-distance deliveries per week and three times a week locally – not quite back to usual but the company stands by the importance of giving its customer base the right level of logistics support, and always has done. So no more kitchen rip-out drama in the west country!

The road to retail recovery

Experts predict that there will be 20,620 retail store closures by the end of this year which equates to an average of 56 doors closing each day. We looked at various factors and found that it’s not all bad news for independent KBB showrooms. Could our local high streets prove more resilient than the out-of-town destinations that have typically overshadowed them? and what are the common threads of conversations circling around the industry at the moment?

Explore the 360/3D tour of this Fulham showroom

www.john-lewis.co.uk

...continued on next page

The road to retail recovery

Providing reassurance

In the race to encourage people back, rebuilding trust and loyalty must become the cornerstone of any strategy. Especially as there is evidence to suggest that mature consumers with greater disposable income will be more risk-averse. Whilst the focus of her article is shopping centres and malls, in Retail Destination Weekly Eileen Connolly writes about the true cost of social distancing. There are some useful parallels and insights to take from it, as she urges us to rethink what is possible.

Download the article

Staying relevant

A recent SBID ‘Speak Easy’series featured the founder and director of Life Kitchens. In the conversation, Oli Stephenson advocates the importance of staying as fluid as possible during this period of flux (and perhaps well beyond). For them Covid has been a ‘speed bump’ in the road but has accelerated use of their advanced and fully immersive 4D software solutions. In spite of all their marketing in the digital realm, Oli outlines that a shift away from sales messages to ones about inspiration has been one of the biggest changes.

Listen to the full podcast here

Keeping it local

Latest research indicates that almost 3 in 5 shoppers say they are more likely to shop at stores selling locally-produced goods once lockdown is fully lifted, compared to preferences pre-pandemic. SBID members have also reported that increasingly

customers are willing to seek out and support independents. All this points to renewed opportunity for the smaller KBB players and gives good reason to be optimistic if your business is active in the community it serves.

Supporting bricks and mortar

It’s a sobering thought that more physical retailers have gone into administration by June this year, than in the whole of 2019. Sustained success is likely to come from an approach that amalgamates some personal interaction with distant digital interactions during the buying process. Leading figures like Callerton are spearheading a ‘best of both’ attitude but acknowledge that when it comes to final customer decision-making there’s no substitute for the tangible and tactile! For Life Kitchens as well as other brands such Tom Howley, John Lewis of Hungerford and Harvey Jones the showroom has always been at the heart of a unique customer experience. Throughout the months of greatest restriction John Lewis of Hungerford turned to the use of mobile phone videos and a set of three interactive 360° tours to remotely guide people around their showrooms whilst it was impossible to do so face-to-face. As part of it’s RK-Tec initiative Callerton has created the ‘Virtual Studio’ to re-imagine and visualise how a kitchen studio would look if we were to start from scratch – in light of current health & hygiene challenges. Check out the glazed pod and a range of other innovations...

Watch the video on the right

Getting the basics right

If you want a quick reminder and practical checklist for your retail operation to follow, Kitchens International have put together eight steps to survival which applies to many interior businesses.

8-point plan to successful kitchen retail

Extract from a thought piece by Craig Matson, Managing Director of Roundhouse and Chairman of The Kitchen Education Trust...

Education, education, education

Craig asks us all some searching questions:
As an employee in the Home & Kitchen industry do you make use of available education? As an employer in the Home & Kitchen industry do you support efforts to educate and professionalise the industry?

I came from the northern suburbs of the most isolated city in the world, my parents struggled to keep their heads above water. Luckily I was given the opportunity to come to the UK in 1987 and things aligned to allow me to start Roundhouse in the mid 1990’s. I am coming to the end of my career, although I have a few years left for those who are considering shuffling me out the door sooner rather than later. I started out thinking I was going to change the world like many ambitious, 20-year olds. That did not really pan out in the way I imagined, and as you get older I guess you realise how hard it is to really make a visible difference. Looking back at my career I have come to realise that positive change doesn’t always have to look like saving the world.

I would say to all of my contemporaries in the industry, it is our responsibility to enable the next generation to make the most of what we have worked hard to establish, to build on those foundations, After all, it is a pretty good industry, rewarding us both financially and with job satisfaction. So, invest in the next generation and encourage them to get further education. The next generation will be focused on different issues to those we have dealt with. They will need to move forward with the pressing issues of today, environmental challenges, societal changes and addressing inequality. And that’s before they get to the business end of things. We should be enabling the next generation to develop from a level much higher than our starting position, they can then take their knowledge, hone and refine it, and that will lead to further opportunities and development for the industry.

“Education gives us the opportunity to learn and develop and in our industry be a part of something which is fulfilling, dynamic, and creative as well as profitable and is part of a very important wider building industry.”

...continued on next page

Education, education, education

I find myself representing the industry in the pursuit of education as the chairman of The Kitchen Education Trust (TKET), which is the conduit between education and the industry. TKET has been established for five years and we have been instrumental in developing the Foundation degree at Bucks New University which has also been running for five years. During this time, we have collaborated with the KBSA and FIESTA in establishing the level 3 technical assistant apprenticeship and are currently developing a level 6 Home and Kitchen designer, an apprenticeship degree as a logical follow on from the foundation degree. Once these are in place, we will have formed a potential pathway from school lever, to degree level, and will aim to provide more diversity within the education levels.

So, if you would like the opportunity to improve your job prospects, become more confident and knowledgeable in the industry, or are looking for that initial opportunity to become part of a vibrant, inspirational workforce, then sign up for the foundation degree. We are currently recruiting students for the forthcoming academic year starting at the end of September 2020. If you are interested in applying or need to know anything about the course please contact Jayne Cunnick at Jayne.hallcunnick@bucks.ac.uk

View a selection of students’ work

TKET also need the support of the wider industry and if you believe in education and would like to support our efforts in developing a more professional industry through education please contact me craig@roundhousedesign.com. We who are representing the industry need all the financial help we can get. Join the growing number of companies who are fulfilling their corporate responsibility like BSH, Blanco, Consentino, Blum, LDL, Symphony, DecoGlaze and AEG to name a few.

More about the Bucks Uni course

More information on TKET here

Download Craig’s full article

We’re looking forward to baking the biscuits and putting the kettle on again!

We are hoping to to re-open The Blum Experience Centre ASAP. If you or your client would like to register your interest in being one of our first visitors when we come back, please complete the form here.

We can then keep you updated with current progress and advise you when the diary will be released.

For more information about our UK Experience Centre go to our website

Due to the effects of lockdown causing difficulty with some of entrants supplying professional photography, The designer awards 2020 have now made the decision to extend their entry window through to 31 July 2020

Click on the link arrow here to find out more.

In her recent blog Linda Parker takes a closer look at the winners and some of the finalists from the KBB Innovation Awards, sponsored by Blum. If you’re struggling to remember life before CV-19, back in March, then take a look at her review.

Click on the link arrow to read more.

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