Daniele Brutto is the co-founder of Onestà, the Italian kitchen brand.
My advice to those looking to begin a new kitchen project is don’t hesitate, crack on! We have had a number of clients take this view in the past 6 months, as the desire to improve their home is still very strong, despite political uncertainty.
Surprisingly, Brexit is not something that has been front of mind of our clients over the last 9 months. This time last year, concerns were expressed about the uncertainty of negotiations and how this may impact their projects, but more recently it seems to be less considered. Despite uncertainty, low consumer confidence and the reported reduced spend on the high street, our business is still steadily growing. We expect the market to continue to grow at a moderate pace as confidence hopefully becomes reinstated after the vote.
With Brexit just around the corner, it’s unlikely that pricing will be impacted immediately. As a result, sudden price inflations are very questionable – which is the same with our suppliers for both the kitchen and appliances. We have had a 4% price rise from one of our Italian furniture manufacturers, but this is in line with their business strategy and something that we were expecting considering we’ve had zero price increases from the same factory in 6 years.
Whether you’re buying your kitchen from a UK, German or an Italian designer or manufacturer, finished product and materials are mostly purchased from Europe. This means that, as a kitchen designer, we are on a level playing field within our sector – our competitors and suppliers will all be experiencing similar concerns which should not impact current client orders.
Customers with kitchens being planned within the next six months should not notice any difference to their projects, we can expect normal yearly price increases within the next 6-12 months, but for now we don’t believe that Brexit will have an immediate effect on pricing and businesses.
Long term, however, is a much bigger question. The supply chain is questionable which means that our business strategy, as a result, must be flexible. Long term planning is difficult in these uncertain times, and until there is a confirmed plan of action it is hard to prepare for every potential outcome and create a solid business frame work.
Right now, we are working towards a contingency plan until there is clarity on how it may or may not affect our business. One of the biggest challenges that we are facing within the Brexit negotiations is that there is a lack of clarity and business concerns are currently not front of mind. As a business we have the capacity to expand and further invest in 2020, but we will not commit to anything until the direction we take with Brexit is clearer.
When things settle, it might be that nothing actually changes. Our relationship with suppliers is concrete, and over the years we have built strong partnerships with established companies.
We are all constantly working towards maintaining a relationship that works both ways – benefitting our customers and our businesses. We have a strong order book and so we see consolidation in 2020 being our major focus, with 2021 being our next year of further investment into the business.