Today, Tom Reynolds, chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association gives his comments on the state of play for the bathroom sector.

Following the turbulence of the last couple of years, we could be forgiven for being uneasy about the future. We are currently dealing with an exceptional economic landscape. Inflationary pressure is creating a surge in costs across the board, and business input and factory gate prices are soaring. In fact, they have been increasing for more than a year now, as a direct result of the pandemic and its associated supply chain problems.

In these kinds of circumstances, businesses pass the costs on, review their suppliers, reassess investment plans or embed efficiencies in their operations.

Economically, this is a high-risk place, with commentators saying it will impact consumer confidence and weaken our economy.

In the bathroom sector, having successfully bounced back from the pandemic lockdowns, we enjoyed a strong year in 2021, with record-breaking sales.

So far, 2022 has brought more positive news, with steady increases in total sales of BMA members in the first quarter.

And the latest sentiment from builders’ merchants about the prospects for 2022 are also positive. The Pulse, a monthly tracking survey of merchants’ confidence, produced by MRA Research, found that supply problems are easing.

April’s results show nearly one in two merchants expect sales to grow by 46% in the next three months, April to June, compared to the previous three, with 36% expecting sales to increase by up to 9%. A further two in three expect sales to grow by more than that.

Our industry has a track record of resilience, innovation and success. Whatever way you look at it, this is a seminal moment for business leaders across the UK, and in the bathroom sector we are in a strong position to move forward with confidence.

There has never been a more important time to improve our sustainability, embrace change, and create the energy and water efficient bathrooms the UK desperately needs.

The scale of the challenge means it requires a collective commitment, setting the tone for our upcoming BMA Conference.

The annual event for manufacturers, distributors, retailers, architects and designers, has been sorely missed in the last two years.

The 2022 theme, ‘Sustainability for the Sector’ and will focus on the climate crisis, setting a sectoral course for the years and decades ahead.

BMA members know we must re-write the rule book and overhaul business models and strategies. With renewed focus on decarbonising and innovating, we can redefine how people think about their bathrooms, and align with the new priorities of the nation.   

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