Wayne Dance is managing director of KBB distributor InHouse whose portfolio includes German brands Schüller, Pelipal and Nolte Delbrück and Italian brand Aster. Here he explains why retailers should see the Brexit vote as a positive rather than a negative…
As a retailer of German products, I am sure that you will have many questions on the implications of our Brexit vote and the decision taken to leave the European Union, so I want to pre-empt current concerns and reassure you with my own view.
Let’s face it, the only thing that is certain right now is that no one seems to know the timescales for our exit from the EU, or, it seems, if the decision to leave is final. However, every situation presents an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Take a second to look at the words below and consider what you see.
In this climate of uncertainty some of you may see ‘opportunity is nowhere’; while others will see ‘opportunity is now here’. As our business partners, you know which camp InHouse is in. We have always worked as a team and we will continue to do so. Let’s not get weighed down with negative views, let’s all work together to do what we do best with Nolte Delbrück, create opportunity and success. Let us focus on the positive.
For instance, Switzerland is not part of the European Union but it is the second richest nation in the world, has its own tailored EU deal, adopts some EU rules and successfully trades with the EU. If we are indeed to come out of the European Union, we have this successful blueprint to follow. Let’s just hope we have tough negotiators. I certainly wish I could be around that table!
For now, we continue to see record orders from our retailers and there’s no sign of this slowing down. However, for many of you, this is your busiest time of year so it will be difficult to judge long-term impact on the decision to leave the EU.
Let’s not forget who we are. As Nolte Delbrück retailers we have had experience of an economic downturn and we came out as champions. In the 2008/2009 recession when other companies cut back, Nolte Delbrück invested. When other companies reduced operations, Nolte Delbrück kept the factories open and producing. There will undoubtedly be nervousness in the industry and some will put the brakes on as a result, but we are not a company to back down in the face of challenges. We always see that the opportunity is now here.
While the markets have reacted strongly to the news, the full financial impact of this decision has not yet been felt. What we do know is that any impact will affect the whole of the industry, not just European companies importing to the UK. That’s because every bedroom has raw materials and components bought from Europe and paid for in Euros. Whether the exchange rate goes up or down, everyone will be affected. The only difference is that we pay for our bedrooms in Euros, so we see the immediate impact.
British manufacturers who buy two or three months in advance will have had the temporary advantage of buying at previous higher rates, but of course, new stock orders will be affected by the devaluation. This will have an impact on their selling price.
Conversely, when the Pound rallies, we have instant access to the improved rate. Those of you have positive cash flows can benefit from our relationship with World First buying currency when it’s at its best rate to protect yourself from erratic fluctuations. Stock manufacturers will have to wait until they reorder and will not be able to take immediate advantage of more favourable rates.
So it’s a case of swings and roundabouts and since we are in total control of our buying price at the moment of sales and purchase, the situation is currently in our favour.
Views from the EU
The UK is no longer a dominant exporter and as predominantly importers, we need good relationships with our European neighbours and to rebuild any bridges unsettled by the Brexit vote. Fortunately, we have excellent relations with our German and Italian suppliers. They recognise the value of the UK market and the great relationships that they have built with us here at InHouse and every single one of you, our retailers. Rest assured, they are just as keen to protect and support these bonds and continue with the success we have all built in the last few years.
The role of the media
We are a nation of fighters. Britain has always been resilient and the Brexit decision is simply another test of that resilience. Don’t let the media cause fear and panic, their role is to create headlines and at a moment of national uncertainty, they are having a field day. We will come to terms with and deal with the outcome, then we will adapt to the future.
Let’s be realistic. We may well be able to push through with confidence but the British public may not be feeling quite as secure. The most damaging consequence of the Brexit decision is that people may delay spending on moving house until they feel more certain about their own financial future. And if consumer spending falls, it could tip us back into recession.
What we have to recognise is that the likely outcome is that imports will become more expensive. This includes products that are assembled or manufactured in the UK using European components. So we’ll all be in the same situation.
But we do things differently. That’s why we are invested in building brand awareness, because people buy a brand they connect with. They know that Made in Germany means the very best product quality, with designs manufactured for longevity. Price is important and uniquely, our comprehensive range of products means that we can meet the budgets of our customers. We give you all four key ingredients to grow your business – Price, Brand, Quality, Longevity – and that’s why, in the last recession, we created success when others failed. No matter the difficulties that this great British nation may face as a result of the vote to leave the EU, we will all succeed.
Onwards and upwards
InHouse Inspired Room Design
Growing through the last recession, Pelipal knows how to maximise every opportunity in an ever-changing market.
It’s easy to write about Pelipal being one of the most successful bathroom furniture manufacturers in the world, easier still to talk about German engineering, cutting- edge design, unparalleled build quality and impressive pricing. But the question being asked by retailers right now is, “How can I make sure that my business succeeds in an economically unstable period?”
Let’s face it, the bathroom industry has taken a real hammering in the last few years and having just survived a recession, we now face the insecurity of a post Brexit market. It could be all doom and gloom but it isn’t. This is the perfect opportunity to create future growth. InHouse sees things a little differently from most.
Let’s take the phrase “Opportunityisnowhere”. Some people will see “Opportunity Is No Where”. That’s not the InHouse way. The team see “Opportunity Is Now Here” and so do their independent retailers. If you really want to succeed, take a look at the only brand to increase sales by a staggering 40% in 2015 and achieve the same again this year. And that brand is the No 1 German bathroom manufacturer Pelipal.
That’s because InHouse do things differently. “We build national brand awareness and support our local retailers to promote Pelipal’s brand,” explains Wayne Dance, Managing Director of InHouse. “When consumers are feeling uncertain, they won’t take a risk. They want to purchase from a trusted and respected brand that offers the best quality and value. We make it our job to ensure you stand out and there’s no better way to build consumer desire and conﬁdence, than appearing in the best interior magazines.
You’ll ﬁnd Pelipal in all the leading trade and consumer titles. We even offer free POS material and personalised branding. No other manufacturer offers this level of commitment.”
A family-run business operating on a global scale, Pelipal understands that no one knows the market better than the retailer, so they make it their job to listen and go that extra mile in creating the right portfolio.
Wayne adds, “With over thirty years’ experience, InHouse knows the market inside out and we work exceptionally hard in supporting our retailers to succeed. Fluctuations in currency will affect the whole industry, so we partner with World First to make sure our retailers can beneﬁt and protect themselves from currency ﬂuctuations. We offer regular trips to Germany to meet a community of like-minded partners who learn from and support each other. When you work with InHouse, you become part of a team. It is our business to help you succeed.”
How to create the ultimate functional open-plan kitchen – next125
With family life and entertaining such a major part of open-plan living, today’s living spaces need to be organised and flexible. The ultimate solution for clutter-free and adaptable living is the working wall, where everything you need sits neatly behind fully retractable cabinets.
Integrating this concept into the home is relatively easy and there are only a few settings in which this doesn’t work. From sink to oven, pull out larder to mid height dishwasher, a working wall can be designed to individual preferences. When cabinets are shut, you effectively create a neutral wall that blends discretely into any setting. This creates a perfect backdrop for an eye-catching island unit or to simply shift the focus to a different area of the room.
Equally, you can use the full height doors to create a feature. Think stunning glass fronts, or crank up the wow factor and opt for something unique, such as the reclaimed oak fronts in the next125 collection.
And finally, consider materials. There are a multitude of finishes that are all easy to clean, look stunning and cross the bridge from practical to aesthetic luxury with ease. Key looks are glass and texture. Glass remains one of the most stylish front finishes and there are a host of rich new colours available such as Indigo blue, lava black and deep stone grey all of which mix beautifully with more sedate neutrals. Wood is the perfect bridge between living spaces, so why not marry glass and wood to create texture, reflection and calm – the perfect wow factor for contemporary interiors.
Remember, the working wall is just one element of an open-plan space, you need to find the perfect union of functionality, aesthetics, affordability and quality. Seek out ranges that do not compromise these other aspects for the sake of the price. Quality is what will make your kitchen stand the test of time and today’s trends should look timeless once installed.
InHouse have the great pleasure of working with Adderstone Group to supply Schüller kitchens for student accommodation Newcastle.
A discussion has now arisen, as to whether Newcastle can sustain the amount of student accommodation planned for the city?
The resounding response from developers is… YES !
Whilst in America, the team spent 4 days in Las Vegas researching potential expansion developments for another showroom in wealthy Nevada. The weak €Euro versus the stronger $USD and £GB has given Inhouse a huge competitive edge in these markets
During the time in Las Vegas, the team took the opportunity to scout out the potential for developing from Florida into Vegas and into other areas of America. With the booming popularity of Las Vegas and the constant need to ensure the most state of the art hotels and facilities are available, there is also the opportunity to put forward Italian brand, Aster Cucine into the American market. Offering high end quality Italian furniture, Aster Cucine has the potential to open up doors in the American hotel market and suits their high-end customer base.
The trip conclude with a one day Inhouse yearly conference. Managing Director Wayne Dance chaired the conference and thanked the team for all their efforts in what has been a phenomenal year that outstripped all expectations and totally outperformed the market in general.
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[intro]Wayne Dance, managing director at InHouse Inspired Room Design tells us why he believes that manufacturers who sell through independent retailers should take a brand-led approach to their products[/intro]
I was delighted to read Russell Buckley’s letter ‘Why DIY outlets are selling shed loads of kitchens and bathrooms’ (kbbreview, December, pg23) and have circulated it around all our sales force and retailers. It chimes totally with our own belief that manufacturers who sell through independent retailers need to take a brand-led approach to their products.
InHouse directors Stuart Dance and Malo Tasle presented on this topic at the excellent kbbreview conference. According to industry research, the average spend on a kitchen from a shed is £8,000 and they account for £878 million of sales from a total of £1.24 billion in 2012. Like it or not, they are our competition.
At the kbb Birmingham 2014 show, we launched our brand strategy for Schüller in the UK. It includes brand advertising campaigns in the national consumer magazines – and yes, as Russell suggests, we take out double-page spread adverts in consumer magazines that list ‘your local kitchen retailer’ in the ad.
But it must go deeper than this. The concept is simple. The kitchen manufacturer undertakes the national brand advertising and editorial promotion. However, unless the branding is replicated by every retailer, we lose out big time. National advertising, social media and everything else works on the simple premise – a consumer has to recognise and recall the brand when they’re flicking through their local newspaper or walking down their local high street. They have to remember it just at the point when they’re ready to buy. That’s why our branding strategy includes point-of-sale materials for retailers to encourage people to enter the showroom, reassure them at point of purchase and help cement the all-important referrals and recommendations.
If you look at your local jewellers or car retailer, showrooms proudly display the Rolex or Audi brand. It enhances their reputation. It gives the consumer confidence that they’re dealing with a respectable business. It creates and generates sales. It really frustrates me when I hear that retailers think that promoting manufacturers’ will “dilute their own brand”. Few independents have the money or the clout to create a brand – at least not nationally.
We totally respect that our retailers have worked hard to build up and create their own identity and reputation at a local or regional basis. Just as Stuart Henry Kitchens has. What’s interesting to note is that on Russell’s own website, not one kitchen manufacturer is identified. So, if the kitchen manufacturer works hard to create a recognisable identity and reputation, a consumer would have no idea from the website shop window that Stuart Henry represents these brands. I’m not knocking Russell. He’s created a great award-winning business but it does point to the heart of the problem.
Independent retailers need to get on board with manufacturers. They need to recognise and apply a supplier’s branding and point of sale in their own premises. They need to be proud of who they represent and work together – with the manufacturer and other local retailers – to create a brand.
With the combined spend of Schüller’s 200 retailers, plus our tens of thousands of pounds’ investment in the brand advertising and promotion, then the independent network would be a real force to be reckoned with. And that’s when we’d all start to make even more money and sell ‘shed loads of kitchens’ – rather than letting DIY outlets, home stores or builders merchants walk away with the deal.
Taken from Kbb Review, 21st January 2015
“InHouse is a family run business, and now is the time to give well-deserved responsibilities to my two sons Stuart and Chris. I’ve worked with Malo for over 20 years and he’s like an adopted son. Having proved themselves in numerous roles, they are well positioned to have a leadership role in the running and developing InHouse’s business and network of retailers,” says Wayne Dance. “I am still heavily committed and very actively involved. Anyone who knows me knows that my laptop and phone are never far away but now is the time to pave the way for the future of the business.”
Following continuous outstanding years of business growth Wayne Dance, Managing Director of kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms agency InHouse Inspired Room Design has put plans in place to ensure an even brighter future for the coming generations of InHouse clients. Working closely with Wayne, Directors Stuart Dance, Chris Dance and Malo Tasle are assuming more business responsibilities in the running of the company.
InHouse represents leading German manufacturers Schüller, Pelipal and Nolte Delbrück as well as Italian company Aster Cucine. With a UK network of 400+ independent retailers, InHouse has also established highly successful businesses in the Caribbean islands, with a turnover of 10 million dollars since 2005 and a current pipeline of work in progress of a further $15 million. InHouse has a new showroom opening in Antigua and is moving into the United Arab Emirates introducing and overseeing the opening of a massive Schüller showroom in Bahrain to service the contract sectors across the UAE which are very lucrative and prominent right now.
Stuart Dance’s core responsibility is as Sales Director – managing clients in Scotland and the North as well as working closely with other’s sales reps and InHouse’s network of agents. Chris Dance looks after international and UK contracts, technical and design division and is based at the company’s head quarters in Newcastle. Malo Tasle works closely with Wayne and Chris on contracts and regularly travels to the Caribbean with Wayne to develop further orders. Malo is also responsible for technical and design as well as being Southern Area Manager and looking after InHouse’s growing network of retailers.
“I’ve been in this industry a long time,” says Wayne, “and have seen many companies fail because they don’t have succession plans in place. With InHouse now generating sales in excess of £20million in the UK and internationally, we need to have a team of top leadership talent to continue to provide what we’re brilliant at – fantastic support, excellent service and quality products.”