One of Ableworld’s main hopes going into 2019 will be that mobility equipment suppliers do not automatically increase prices rather than improve their own purchasing and systems.
Managing director, Mike Williams, who is among many mobility bosses naturally hoping prices stay down, said that the industry’s largest retailer will resist or re-source any increases that seem “unreasonable” in the current trading climate.
Suppliers across industries usually increase their prices at the beginning of each year and buyers have to negotiate with manufacturers or simply swallow the increases.
Some businesses across a number of sectors however fear higher-than-usual price hikes next year, especially where imports are concerned, due to the UK’s departure from the EU.
However, speaking to AMP on his company’s trading outlook for 2019, Mr Williams said the mobility industry must believe the “doom mongers are all wrong and we don’t all fall over a cliff edge on the 30th March”.
He added: “I’m certainly not planning for that to happen!”
Mr Williams said that Ableworld will continue to work with suppliers to improve ranges and packaging and increase its range of own label product.
“Personally, Ableworld is looking forward to the continued growth of lighter and more colourful and fashionable products along with advance in sustainable packaging.”
When he took back control of the retail group’s buying in January he invited suppliers to come up with ideas and ranges to enhance the dealer’s offer and help it to update and refresh.
Mr Williams said that next year the NHS will increasingly struggle to supply equipment on its tight budget so the importance of having a comprehensive range and an ethical business is “paramount” so professionals can “feel confident signposting customers to Ableworld”.
He continued: “Competition will get stronger and I foresee some groups getting bigger and some failing or amalgamating together as has happened in other trades, and certainly the DIY trade, which I was previously in.
“The shame will be smaller companies resistant or unable to change who will fall by the wayside.
“We see a very positive 2019, once again continuing to improve our business model, ensuring our 18 years of increased profit, growth and helping bring better, value-for-money products to the end-user continues.”
In 2018, the core Ableworld business saw sales grow 14% compared to 2017 while its franchise group achieved a 15% increase in turnover.
In June, the company opened its largest-ever store in Llandudno, North Wales.