UK kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms exhibition Kbb Birmingham has revealed its latest industry research findings. The survey polled the opinions of industry professionals, including manufacturers, designers, installers and retailers, to ask about their outlook for the sector in the year ahead.

Kbb Birmingham’s new research polled respondents from across the KBB industry, with feedback from companies of all sizes, from sole traders to companies of over 500 employees, giving a snapshot of industry opinion. Kbb Birmingham Event Director Sam Fisher said:

“The research gives us important insights on what 2023 has delivered for the KBB sector and to really understand the challenges our exhibitors and visitors may be facing in the year ahead.”

A Mixed Year

The KBB sector has had mixed success in 2023, with positive revenue and growth for some and shrinking revenue and sales for others. For retailers, many had a good year. When asked about revenue and sales volume for their business in the past year, 63% reported a positive story, with either an increase (30%) or responding that revenues stayed the same (33%). Almost 1 in 5 say that they have increased the number of outlets they have. However, the majority of retailers have kept the same number of outlets.

For manufacturers, 27% have seen an increase in their revenue and sales volume, whilst 26% reported that their revenue and sales have stayed the same.

Industry Challenges

The majority of the manufacturers surveyed felt that the skills shortage was the biggest challenge facing the industry, with a lack of experienced fitters available. Other concerns mentioned by manufacturers were:

  • Staff retention
  • Smaller budgets leading to more ‘DIY’ projects by consumers
  • Inflation and rising product/material costs
  • Recovering debt from customers.

Whilst retailers felt that their biggest challenges were:

  • Customers shopping online / competing with online retailers
  • High rents and limited supply for showrooms
  • Staffing/recruitment.

Facing the future

With ongoing challenges in the global economic landscape, the outlook is varied across the board. From a retailer perspective, when asked to look ahead, 66% expect to see some future growth, which paints a promising outlook. Manufacturers were a little less optimistic, with 38% predicting a ‘small decline’ in the year ahead. However, 24% do expect to see some growth.

Investment in digital marketing for growth

A noteworthy trend is the growth of digital marketing within the sector, with it being where most marketing investment is planned for the year ahead, with over 80% of marketers planning activity in this area.

Kbb Birmingham Event Director Sam Fisher concludes:

“With global markets facing economic uncertainty, this is reflected in the responses, which indicate some challenges ahead for the sector. We want to ensure we have opportunities for visitors to kbb Birmingham to access useful information and support, so are planning a series of drop-in clinics at the show, from financial advisors giving free advice for small businesses, to marketing experts giving digital marketing Q&A sessions.”

Kbb Birmingham returns from 3-6th of March 2024 to the NEC and will feature over 230+ exhibiting brands from across 26 different categories. The biennial event welcomes an audience of over 15,000 visitors over the four days, attracting senior decision-makers from the residential, design, retail and contract sectors. For more information on kbb Birmingham 2024, and to register for your free visitor pass, please visit the kbb Birmingham website.