Lakes Comment: Q1 2021

Mick Evans, Operations Director Lakes is BMBI’s Expert for Shower Enclosures & Showering.

In a market used to thinking of 2-3% up or down as significant, it’s been an extraordinary 18 months. March sales were 47% above March 2020 but sales were also 23% ahead of March 2019! Kitchen & Bathroom sales are currently 18.7% ahead of March 2020 but -1.0% below March 2019, as lockdown restrictions hit internal trades harder than external.

However, with restrictions being relaxed, homeowners are feeling more confident about letting tradespeople back into their homes and we expect bathroom fitters to join the RMI party. With pent-up demand and, according to the BoE, an accumulated £200bn in consumer savings, it’s already fizzing.

A year at home, in homes that weren’t designed for staying in or working from home, has persuaded many to invest more in their homes, so they’re ‘designed for life’. The housing market is frenetic, and home improvements show no signs of slowing. Better bathrooms and new bathrooms have become a higher priority.

There is also growing demand for more attractive multigenerational products. For example, non-slip stone shower trays, stylishly secure seating, and grab rails which make showering safer for the older and less secure-footed.

As the host of the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, there is real emphasis for the UK to lead from the front and inspire action ahead of November.

There are many aspects to sustainability and saving CO2 in practice, and Lakes is proud to have been the first in our sector to be awarded Carbon Neutral Plus certification for our UK operations, for continued commitment to reducing our impact on the environment. We invested significantly in packaging design, and closing the loop for recycling, and reducing carbon miles. Equally, sustainability can apply to delivering high quality products which are designed to last longer, making for happier customers and less waste of materials and resources.

Looking ahead, polls show working from home is unlikely to see a big reversal, and RMI is forecast to grow strongly in the medium to long term. Omnichannel sales are growing strongly, and we expect this to continue. But homeowners often need help, and only know what they want when they’re shown it and have it explained by an expert. Are merchants and stockists ready?

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