A recent survey commissioned and published by the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation has revealed growing consumer interest in sustainability and sustainable supply chains for home improvement work. However, this positive outlook sits alongside increased concerns over rising operating costs, combined with slow economic growth, confusion about apprenticeships, and a lack of government support for KBB business owners.
The research project, which targeted KBB installation businesses and installers and took place across December 2022 and January 2023, consisted of 10 questions covering key topics including the economy, the skills gap and sustainability, and revealed:
When asked about sustainability and whether the industry does enough to reduce its environmental impact, one third of those surveyed think there is more to be done, whilst almost 50% think the industry is doing enough which shows there is still work to be done in this area. Installers continue to have influence with consumers on their purchasing decisions, with 31% of respondents reporting an increase in customers asking for advice when it comes to environmentally friendly solutions. BiKBBI feels it is a clear sign that the industry needs to engage the installer population further on education around sustainable products and practises as they are in a prime position to promote sustainable decisions.
Turning to the economy, with the industry already severely impacted by the growing skills gap, the BiKBBI survey reinforced that more needs to be done to support the thousands of KBB installation businesses across the UK. The rising costs of running a business amid a financial downturn are of key concern; with bills going up it is particularly worrying for KBB installation businesses to see the economy and consumer spending continuing to fall. Over 40% felt there was a downturn in incoming business and over 60% of those surveyed were very concerned or concerned about their business this year.
Moreover, 80% of those surveyed said they felt the government needs to give more support to small businesses, whilst 60% said they were considering moving to a different industry, with 40% citing financial gain as an underlying reason for this.
Despite a growth in apprenticeship opportunities in the UK, the survey highlights that installation business owners are still not accessing this vital tool to help address the UK skills gap. Business owners are concerned about red tape, the expense and the process. BiKBBI pledges to continue to champion apprenticeships and support KBB businesses, but calls on the government to do more to support business owners and empower them to train the next generation with modern apprenticeships.
Damian Walters, Chief Executive of BiKBBI, said: ‘The outputs from the survey clearly demonstrate the areas of focus for the institute in terms of supporting our members. It is encouraging to see the demand for more education on the topic of sustainability and we will now work with our stakeholders to provide tools to assist installation businesses to promote environmentally motivated products, services and practices to consumers.
The scale of concern in the KBB installation sector on the subject of the economy is not surprising, I think it would be remiss of any business to not have some level of concern, considering the challenges we have faced and those that are yet to come. What is surprising is the volume of our existing workforce that would be prepared to leave the industry. Ordinarily, this would be concerning, but whilst we are in the midst of a deep-seated skills gap crisis, this would be catastrophic for the home improvement sector and demonstrates why it is crucial that businesses dependent on an installation function support the work of the BiKBBI in order to drive positive change and build a sustainable future workforce.’
EDUCATION | STANDARDS | SUSTAINABILITY | COMPLIANCE |