Monday, 25 October 2010

Where are you?

Another event, another guest list, but what all industry occasions seem to have in common is the lack of participation from retailers and designers. So, in a Delia Smith-style shout to the terraces, “where are you?” Those of you on the front line of sales and design are noticeably absence from many events and yet it’s all of you that have the key to the future success of the industry. So, I’m going to ask you exactly the same question that was recently fired at me by a manufacturer “How do you get retailers and designers to attend events?”
What could encourage you to leave the showroom, studio or design desk? What would persuade you to mix with your peers and exchange retail or design ideas? Perhaps it’s a fear of raising your head above the parapet, scared of retribution following open and honest criticism, or maybe it’s a simple as you have no interest in the wider kitchen or bathroom community? Could it be as simple that no single event can answer the question “what’s in it for me?” We don’t want to judge you; we would just like to know!
It’s not a recent phenomenon. After all, the continued attempt to create retail representation, through associations, has still fallen wide of the mark. But how can we ever drive retailing and help businesses if retailing and designers refuse to get together? Well, aside from the exceptional editorial in Kitchens & Bathrooms News? *smug*. With 500,000 jobs set to go in sweeping cuts in the public sector, hold on for a bumpy ride. It’s now more important than ever to get together and help the industry come through the turbulent economic times!
Just as there are sweeping statements obviously, and equally, there are exceptions to the rule. I do know retailers and designers who will attend industry shows, awards, conferences and roundtables. They are willing to express ideas and (just as importantly) learn new ideas. No matter how long we’ve all been in business, we can always embrace new design theories and business practices. Let’s hope, we can add to this handful of dedicated professionals to keep driving the industry though challenging retail conditions!

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