Following an enforced two-year absence, the BMA Conference’s eagerly awaited return did not disappoint. Chief executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association Tom Reynolds looks back on an upbeat gathering.
After a two-year hiatus we came back with a bang for this year’s BMA Annual Conference at Carden Park earlier this month. And what a time to re-group. We have been through the pandemic, the lockdowns and the initial shocks when sales dropped off a cliff overnight, and then the recovery. The dramatic reversal of fortune has seen BMA members record an overall turnover of £1.18bn in 2021 – 4% up on pre-pandemic levels – with continued momentum in the first half of this year.
But the last two years have not been easy. The many challenges in the supply chain, the raw materials shortages, haulage crisis, shipping volatility and sky-rocketing costs have been a struggle for bathroom manufacturers, just as they have been for many other sectors.
And now we need to brace ourselves for another economic watershed as economic stagnation dominates the headlines. But despite all the negativity circulating at the moment, it’s the BMA’s mission to be relentlessly positive, and that sentiment set the tone at our two-day conference.
The theme, Sustainability of the Sector, encompassed some big policy issues coming to the fore this year, with a major consultation on mandatory water labelling, changes to the Construction Products Regulation on both sides of the Channel, and net zero policies further down the road.
To secure the future of the sector and transform our sustainability credentials, we need the mental resilience to cope, to adapt and to rise to the challenges we face.
Some strategies to help with our mental wellbeing and build resilience to change were highlighted by John Hotowka, our keynote speaker. He challenged us to celebrate all achievements and to protect and strengthen the mental wellbeing of colleagues and teams so these people can negotiate change and uncertainty with peace of mind, focussed action and motivation through some very challenging and uncertain times.
We also heard insights into the most innovative science taking place right now, thanks to systems theorist Melissa Sterry. Among other mind-blowing sustainable ideas, she highlighted a pioneering project growing organic pieces of furniture, known as the 'furniture orchard'.
Scrapheap Challenge presenter Robert Llewellyn enlightened us with his experiences of the development of electric vehicles, renewable energy and sustainable technology, and challenged us all to learn from other countries and businesses in the quest to save the planet.
It's fair to say, the conference gave us all a lot to think about – and I have no doubt the cogs are whirring.