By Damian Walters, BiKBBI CEO:
The recent news from Bathstore is of course another blow for UK retail generally, as well as those employees directly involved. We’re of course making noise around the plight of the installer and I guess you could be forgiven for thinking we’re forgetting the retailer in all this.
That really couldn’t be further from the truth!
Whilst we are shouting about the installer’s losses out loud, we are focused on ensuring the retailer is protected – not just for today, but for tomorrow too.
Simply speaking, retailers need installers to fulfil sales ambition and if we don’t protect the installer, we run the risk of losing them forever. With a skills gap evident, we are already running dangerously low on available talent.
The apprenticeship initiative we’re supporting will not bear fruit for many years and with our relationship with the EU far from clear, we simply can’t afford to let these experienced installers slip into early retirement or other industries.
Protecting the installers therefore IS protecting the retailer!
So, what are we hoping to achieve?
We want our members to have a seat at the table and we want the government to step up their support of them in the same way they would support big businesses in times of crisis. The government have often referred to the SME as the “backbone of the UK economy”, so for me it’s time they put their money where their mouth is.
Our objective has always been to support all stakeholders in the world of installation. That includes the retailers, the customers they serve and those installers who operate on the front line.
We need to collectively find a solution to prevent future failures affecting our precious installer commodity and we need to work that out quickly.
The world needs to know that these creditors are not big businesses, or printed lines on creditor spreadsheets. These are tiny businesses in the main, with these types of losses changing lives and affecting families.
We know that this is a talented pool of experience with transferable skills. Skills that could easily transition into other, less risky industries.
So, the reason why we’re shouting loud, is because our industry will lose great people if we don’t act on their behalf.
Meanwhile and in addition to the work with installers, we’re also in dialogue with our retail partners. We’re sharing data (with permission from the subjects of course), not only for installers, but also for designers and installation management.
Our retailers are benefiting from our connective support.
Finally, we’re also supporting Bathstore, potential buyers and the administrators – as well as those customers affected.
We can’t change the situation for all, but we can work smart to support those who would benefit from our help.
EDUCATION | STANDARDS | SUSTAINABILITY | COMPLIANCE |