As we head into a New Year and a new decade, AMP caught up with some of the most influential players in the mobility market to find out their thoughts and predictions of what the next twelve months will hold. Would the Brexit drama continue? How will the high street perform? Will online play its part? Here’s what they said.
Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director, TPG Disableaids
There is no doubt that business has been difficult over the last year. The combination of local authority budget cuts, the Brexit uncertainty, the on-line cut priced outlets and ever increasing competition from small ‘Pop – Up’ shops with little or no overheads.
Without any hesitation I would say that quality will always shine through. It is important to train staff well, to maintain standards and to be innovative with your market offering. There is little benefit in cutting corners to be the cheapest retailer for your given product line if that means selling at a loss and being the first to go bump.
Who knows what Brexit holds, but the reality is that demand for products to suit the elderly and disabled will continue to rise. The ‘Baby Boomer’ generation is moving into that customer catchment area right now and that means the market size is likely to expand considerably over the next few years.
The funding source may well be different, as in private funding rather than State funded, but a good value and well presented solution will always be more attractive than a hasty, ill conceived and desperate grab for opportunist turnover.
Brexit will be the same for all manufacturers and all retailers so there is little point in trying to use it for commercial advantage, other than to ensure it does not disrupt the way in which we can deliver a high quality service.
Alastair Ronaldson, Marketing Manager, Ross Care:
In terms of the retail spectrum of the market, there has certainly been some turbulence in recent years with continuing announcements of both company expansions and closures.
Whilst we continue to observe a lot of change, I believe that on the whole, the retail & distributor networks appear to become ever more professionalised. I’m sure this will continue to be the case in 2020 and it’s great to see more opportunities for good practice to be celebrated through various awards and competitions.
Arguably 2019 has observed more stability across companies, and I think that is a result of businesses having an increasingly focussed view of their space in the market.
There is a broad variety in the approach that different companies are taking and the specific models that are working for them and their locality. Perhaps we are also witnessing a more sustainable approach being adopted by those whose primary focus is on driving down costs for customers.
As for ourselves, we continuing down the path of becoming ever more specialist in the services we offer, with strong clinical input into how we shape our approach and a focus on training and development amongst all team members. We will continue to work in a complementary and supportive manner of statutory providers of equipment.
I think in 2020 we shall also see a growing appetite for accreditation amongst many retailers. If the private purchase of equipment is becoming an ever more important part of the picture for meeting ageing population demands, then that can surely only be a good thing.
Mike Williams, Managing Director, Ableworld
What a great start to the New Year, ensuring we have a strong government rather than a ‘lame hung Parliament.’ We are in a very positive industry with new, innovative products coming in, demographics are on our side along with a lot of ethical retailers in the market place.
On the Brexit question, it can only be a positive result as long as the Government doesn’t ‘tie us in’ too much with the E.U. and we can build trade across the world with reduced tariffs imposed on goods.
The confidence in the country again is already showing through, the pound has already increased, so we look forward to those price reductions in the market place.
One thing for sure though, the retail sector will carry on growing rapidly, a few I’m afraid will disappear as competition strengthens, others will be taken over and the UK will end up with three or four ‘strong national retailers.’
Our results for the year were excellent with ‘like for like’ sales for the calendar year being up over 15% along with great increases in profit. The coming year will bring three or four new stores along with a million pound system upgrade, which will improve the efficiency of our company overall.
I know others may grow quicker in quantity (forced by VC’s), however I do not see anyone taking our spot as number one in retail square footage or the range and quality we offer.
See Part One of the Management Insights feature here: