Kitchen Industry Insights; Past, Present And Future

20 January 2021

With the UK Fitted Kitchen market growing from 4.2bn in value 2018 (according to JKMR reports/ KBB Daily) and nearing £4.4bn in 2019 (according to JKMR reports/ Trend Monitor). The kitchen renovations industry entered 2020 in a strong position.

The unpredicted impact of COVID led to a 3 month halt in non-essential home renovations and changes to customer confidence and both positive and negative buying patterns.

As 2020 has now come to an end we’ve taken a look into the kitchen renovations industry as whole. This article breaks down our understanding of the kitchen industry over the past year, where the industry is now and our predicted developments over the next 12 months.

A Year of Trials, Tribulations And Success

At Passmore Group we experienced tremendous growth in 2020. In October 2019, we added a new division to our home improvements offering, More Kitchens. Providing a full design and installation service, we have seen continued month and month growth. Operating for only 9 months, due to 3 months being closed following the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, we are finishing the year 14% ahead of yearend target having over 150 kitchens and installed 47 project managed kitchens. Read more on our 1st year of More Kitchens here.

With Government restrictions from March to June 2020 forcing many of us to stay indoors, there has been an influx in the request of home improvements, including kitchen, post lockdown 1.0. According to Google Trends, July to September 2020 saw a spike in the UK public searching for information on ‘Kitchen Renovations’, results showed search volumes were an average of 205% higher than the same period in 2019.


Following lockdown 1.0 and coming out of lockdown 2.0 and back into a tiered restriction system, there has been both positive and negative affects to the kitchen renovations industry. We have broken down the main factors below;

Boost In Renovations

As mentioned above upon coming out lockdown 1.0 that saw non- essential work being put on hold there was an influx in the request for home renovations, including kitchen refurbishments.

With everyone spending more time at home, less money being spent on leisure and people opting to improve their homes instead of moving in an uncertain housing market has led to an influx in kitchen renovations.

More Kitchens Installations Surveyor Rob explains ‘Upon talking to our customers we have found that they are saving more money staying indoors. They want to spend this improving their homes, particularly in the kitchen where it can help to add to their overall house value’.

The back log of orders from customers who wanted to renovate their kitchens before the lockdown has also added to the overall demand, according to a report by KBB Review Survey by Trend Monitor it found that of the 1000 participants asked only 7% didn’t plan to go ahead with bathroom and kitchen works.

Upon becoming fully mobilised out of lockdown 1.0 we saw 30% year on year growth between July to September 2019 and July to September 2020.

Supply Limitations

Coronavirus has seen a boost in kitchen renovations but also led to a delay in supply deliveries.

‘We have found that with some of our kitchen appliance suppliers It’s becoming difficult for them to supply for the influx in demand, which has led to a delay in some of our supply times. The required Coronavirus safety restrictions such as social distancing has meant some distributors and suppliers can’t operate at full capacity.

You’ve also got to take in to account those who have unfortunately not been able to work for health reasons and or having to self-isolate.’ More Kitchens Installations Surveyor Rob explains.

A KBB Review research article also found that several kitchen and bathroom retailers are having supply issues including ‘poor communication, delayed orders and extra delivery charges’.

Installer Skills Gap

There has been a growing skilled labor shortage in the home improvements industry as a whole for a number of years, which also has had an effect on kitchen fittings.

Damian Walters, Chief executive of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Institute states in KKB FocusFor installation, the challenge over the last decade has been the skills shortage – a shortfall of professional tradespeople to meet consumer demand.’

According to research by UK Construction Media the shortage is due to the ‘The UK construction workforce is an aging one, with over 20% of our tradespeople being over fifty and 15% being in their sixties. The trouble is, as these plasterers, painters and plumbers retire, the same percentage of young people are not entering these professions.’

Customer Cancellations

Whilst there has been an influx in bookings with kitchen renovation companies seeing a strong rebound following lockdown 1.0. ongoing COVID restrictions throughout the year has led to an increase in consumer uncertainty and future financial concerns.

According to YouGov research in October 2020 saw ‘consumer confidence fall to a six month low as COVID restrictions increase’. Consumer confidence fell due to reasons including household finances and property value.

At Passmore Group, although limited in number, we found some customers wishing to postpone house renovation works following the government’s lockdown 2.0 announcement in November 2020 for reasons including ‘We wish to put the renovations on hold until everything with COVID begins to die down again’.

At Passmore Group, we have gone above and beyond to reassure our customers during all lockdowns, keeping in regular contact while the business was mothballed.

After putting all of our enquiries and installations on hold from the end of March until end of May, only 8% of prospects didn’t want to go ahead with their initial appointment following remobilization. A mere 5% cancelled their installation altogether, the majority of which were a result of change in financial circumstance due to COVID.

0% of our customers have cancelled their appointments due to Covid related reasons following November 2020.


2021 Opportunities And Potential Challenges

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has seen some setbacks in the kitchen and home renovations industry as a whole, we’ve broken down the predicted developments below;

Industry Growth

Although ongoing COVID restrictions has led to a drop in customer confidence, consumers as a whole are still planning to renovate their homes. At Passmore Group, who boast a 50+ strongman fitting team, our installations diary is currently booked up into April 2021, which is the biggest lead time that’s been seen since the 2008 recession.

The introduction of a new COVID vaccine is beginning to improve customer confidence, a result of hopefully the end being in sight. According to research by YouGov ‘Consumer confidence has improved slightly as vaccine nears’ with ‘households feeling more upbeat about their finances and house prices.’

Internal plans for More Kitchens include 20% year on year growth. We will be expanding our full service offering into our second showroom in Harrogate, which currently showcases offerings from our More Bathrooms and More Ability brands, alongside continuing to offer a 5-star service to homeowners around the Yorkshire region.

Kitchen Design Trends

Clean, minimal and modern designs are set to remain popular over the coming year. ‘Trending colours are set to be bottle green and dusky pink, alongside the usual greys and warmer beige tones’. More Kitchens Senior Designer Julie explains.

With many of us now spending more time at home and consequently in the kitchen there has been a rise in the request for fixtures that improve kitchen convenience. At More Kitchens we have seen an influx in requests for functional fixtures including for self-clean ovens and instant hot water taps, which we expect to continue 2021 onwards. Read our article on 2021 Kitchen Design Trends & Tips to find out more on what is expected for the coming year.


Investment In Skills

To help combat the installation skills shortage, and catch up with demand, companies within the home improvements sector, including ourselves, are continuing to offer, and or setting up new, initiatives to offer further training, qualifications and apprenticeships to help build skills for new and existing employees.

This includes The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation (BIKBBI) who has set up an initiative to tackle the national shortage of professional installers, including the creation of ‘apprenticeships, professional development and re-training’.

Move To Online

With the lockdown forcing many of us to stay at home, kitchen retailers are working to adapt to and improve customer experience online.

With the aim to offer a personalised experience for customers without showroom and home visits, online changes include the implementation of virtual showrooms, informative and updated website content and the use of social media channels to engage directly with customers.

Trevor Scott, the Rugby Fitted Kitchens boss, told KBB Review they have obtained success by ‘Adding content to make it easier for consumers to navigate through the whole design-to-order process online rather than in person’.

Conclusion

The kitchen Industry is set to be busy over the coming year, however ongoing changes with COVID developments may affect consumer confidence and potentially buying habits however this is yet to be seen.

Continued developments in online operations and improvements to the skill shortage gap are expected to have positive affects in the UK Kitchens industry.

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