10 February 2009

Independents hold the key to recovery

The February issue of Which? magazine makes for interesting reading, and I do not just mean Whirlpool gaining Best Buy status for its JetChef mirco-combi.

The latest Which? includes the results of a survey of shopping in Britain that involved 14,000 Which? members rating some 96 shops on everything from product to price.

KBB sectors were not included in the survey but outlets selling a whole range of products such as groceries, electrical, homes and gardens goods, mobile phones and entertainment goods such as books and DVD's were.

All in all, nine areas were surveyed, and of the seven sectors that featured independent retailers, they finished second in five of the sectors and came top in one - home entertainment.

If you need proof that independents hold the key to recovery, surely this is it.

I touched on the importance of independent retailers last week in my report about Home Depot pulling out of the upscale end of the KBB market in America, but the Which? survey is much closer to home.

This does not mean we have turned a corner, or that this week's Business Briefing report does not include companies that have appointed liquidators or individuals that have been declared bankrupt. (But hey, that used to happen when the market was booming too!)

But I think it does mean that some of the doom-and-gloom headlines we are all subjected to by the mainstream media only tell part of the story.

The independent sector of all industries largely flies under the radar of the national press but here on the ground it's a different story.

I spent a part of last week in Germany visiting Duravit and Hansgrohe, both of whom have launched a whole raft of new products that will give the independent retailer the tools they need to win orders.

Electrolux is marking 90 years of domestic appliance manufacture with its 2009 Design Lab that shines the spotlight on the designers of tomorrow.

These are just three of the companies in KBB Land that have faith in the market, and they are at the coalface.

Who do you want to put your business faith in? Companies that do the business in your sector or the headline writers of the tabloids?

It's your call...

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