Happy New Year! Well, we've finally seen the back of 2010 and for those in Scotland, the North East, Yorkshire and Surrey, the last few remaining days were snow joke. Retailers were unable to deliver, fitters were snowed in, meaning completion deadlines were being extended for many kitchen and bathroom installations. And all of this going on when designers and retailers should have been making the most of kitchen and bathroom sales before the rise in VAT. At this point, I should state however, plucky retailer Park Bathrooms in Perth kept trading through 14" of the white stuff, even with threats of more snow on the way. But hopefully we've now all thawed out and it's business as usual across the UK. Whatever 'business as usual' is meant to mean nowadays.
It's fairly usual, in the current climate, to see business changing hands - as it looks like Bathstore is set to with rumours of Dophin Bathrooms' owner eyeing up the retail chain. But it is usual for the likes of wholesaler CostCo to be increasing its involvement in retailing kitchen furniture and range cookers? Seriously, whatever next? Bathrooms from TK Maxx or perhaps even bedrooms from Poundland? (Actually, I can't lay claim to the last comment - that was from @kkcltd).
With increasing pressure on the high street specialists, it's going to be a tough enough time without wholesalers becoming more involved in kitchen and bathroom sales. While some consumers will undoubtedly always want to shop for bargains, hopefully independent kitchen retailers and designers can play to their strengths - service, service and yet more service!
Hopefully 2011 will be a year of national celebration and festivities as we prepare for a right royal occassion. Oh no, not Will & Kate's wedding - it's our fifth birthday and, this year, we'll be celebrating our 50th issue too! But that's quite enough of our trumpet-blowing.
Whatever the year holds for us all, perhaps we should learn from the recent weather conditions and be better prepared for the unexpected. Because, let's face it, that's exactly what's in front of us in 2011.