Carpet Foundation calls for independent flooring retailers to be allowed to reopen
The Carpet Foundation has written to the government calling for independent flooring retailers to allowed to reopen or face the UK carpet industry ‘bleeding dry to the point of extinction’.
It has written to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as well as Michael Gove, Dominic Raab, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock.
The letter reads:
‘World-leaders is an all too often made claim by organisations. However, when it comes to
manufacturing carpet, the UK can honestly say it is a world-leader. From the Kremlin to the White House, Hong Kong airport to luxury yachts, not to mention in over 50% of all UK households, when it comes to carpet, UK-produced carpet is the preferred choice. That said, we are a big-ticket item and are usually first in and last out of difficult times. The retail landscape is littered with big-name casualties.
‘The one beacon of hope is independent retailers. Contrary to the retail norm of recent years, independent retailers have prospered, so, when it comes to a return from the UK retail lockdown, we would urge ministers to look positively on the UK carpet industry and independent retailers in particular. Why?
- Retail carpet sales are c£2bn;
- Independent retailers operate on the high street and in the hub of local communities;
- The majority are family businesses who are steeped in the local community;
- Shop sizes are small;
- Social distancing is not an issue because it is rare for there to be more than one couple in a
carpet shop at any one time;
- Furthermore, appointments could easily be made over the phone;
- While the fitting of carpet requires admittance to a house, it is easy to social distance;
- Spending so much time at home recently is making people see things they would like to
redecorate or replace -like carpet;
- After a tough Brexit-dominated period, sales of flooring were up 9% in January according to BOO research, clearly demonstrating that there was/is pent-up demand.
‘We are also as an industry closely linked to construction -indeed, contract sales are worth well more than the £2bn of retail carpet sales.
‘Finally, while it is excellent to hear that the Government wants manufacturing to continue, carpet manufacturers cannot continue stockpiling carpet adding millions to their balance sheet, if they don't have a route to market to sell them.
‘So, in conclusion, we are not a sexy industry but we do play a vital role in manufacturing, and we tend to be, certainly on the production and supply side, Northern and Midlands-based as opposed to Southern.
‘By not allowing smaller independent shops at least to open up, you would not just be putting a handbrake on the industry- you would be actually stopping it and bleeding it dry to the point of extinction. We have no doubt many “Mama and Papa” operations would not survive, so leading to more empty shops on the high street.
‘We look forward to hearing from you.’