This year was our best ever conference. With more retailers attending than ever before, we were able to showcase the relevance of the Kbsa and provide a day that was fun, enjoyable, and packed with relevant knowledge and thought provoking content.
We took lessons learnt from last year and amended the format to allow even more time for networking. Our business services providers and four key sponsors were exhibiting in the reception areas, providing ample opportunity for relaxed and informal meetings. There was a real buzz throughout the day with delegates engaged and interested.
Journalist and broadcaster Juliet Morris returned as host, keeping the conference running smoothly and on time, with insight and observations that contributed to the debates.
Our keynote speaker Professor Charles Spence, offered a unique insight into the psychology of the showroom environment. His presentation on ‘sense hacking’, included up to the minute research and looked at how retailers can utilise multi-sensory experiences in the showroom.
Business coach Andy McLachlan also returned for another year and shared his own story, to illustrate the importance of wellness for business owners. The presentation from Mike Bradley on AI was fascinating. He used real time examples to demonstrate how powerful AI is and how it could be used by KBB retailers. Mike said that retailers and designers must train themselves up on AI technology now so that they won’t be left behind as the technology develops.
Two shorter presentations paved the way for the Big Debate. Barry Moss from Leap – Training & Education, talked about what the industry must do to encourage more apprentices in. Amanda Hughes from Blum took to the stage in a cumbersome ‘space-like’ suit to illustrate the impact of age on our bodies, and explored how this impacts on kitchen design.
The KBB Big Debate was lively this year with questions from the floor for the four retailers on the panel: Luke Wedgbury from Coalville Kitchens, Joanna Geddes from Kitchens by J S Geddes, Elizabeth Pantling-Jones from Lima Kitchens and Graham Robinson from Halcyon Interiors.
The view from the panel and the floor was that retailers are still hesitant to take on apprentices. Over complicated systems, difficulties in finding a provider and relevance of trainings, were all cited as barriers to more take up. The feedback from Barry was that the conversation was brilliant for him, because at least now people are talking and thinking about the issue.
Whilst the the reaction post event has been extremely positive we are not resting on our laurels and are already planning how next year can be improved. Our aim is for even more retailers to believe that the KBSA KBB Industry Conference is a ‘must attend’ event, and an important date in the diary. With the support of our sponsors we will build on our plans to grow the membership, enabling us to act as the political voice for the independent sector, and a centre of excellence for education and training.
The future undoubtedly holds many challenges but the conference has shown that the Kbsa has a vital role in bringing together and supporting KBB retailers, to help them thrive and build success with ingenuity.