Power Players 2020: number 3

Wills Kitchen Visual crop
Space Group has ensured it is at the cutting edge of kitchen design technology, offering 3D visuals.

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Making its first appearance in the Power Players rankings is Gloucester-based Space Group. It is likely that the kitchen design house would have made it into last year’s top 10 too, but as its accounting was being realigned with its parent company Nisbets (which acquired a controlling stake in 2016) at that time, the financial results are not available in full from Companies House.

2019 results not yet published. 2017 results incomplete as Space was integrating with Nisbets Group accounting.

Furthermore, the company usually publishes its annual report 9-10 months in arrears, so the latest one available at the time of publication is for the 12 months to 31 December 2018. Nevertheless, we can see that a robust £21.6m in revenue and £644k in operating profit slots Space straight into the number 3 position in our list.

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MD Ian Bidmead analysed: “Whilst our business model is based on selling physical products, we’re actually a services-led business, first and foremost, and service is the competitive battleground. This is particularly important to recognise and understand in a sector like ours, with relatively low barriers to entry. Therefore, the quality, integrity and value of every aspect of our service delivery is critical and this, in turn, relies on having an engaged and motivated workforce, and also the correct values and behaviours embedded into the fabric of the business.

“My job, and that of my management team, is to create the right environment to allow a talented group of people to really flourish and deliver a great service every, single day.”

Obviously, Space is subject to the same market difficulties that the coronavirus pandemic has thrust onto the hospitality sector as the rest of the equipment supply chain. But how did the company handle this? “As in any crisis, it’s important to keep calm and to quote Corporal Jones, ‘don’t panic’.  Whilst short term decisions to ensure immediate survival needed to be taken at the start of the crisis, we’ve always tried to remember that Space is here for the long term, and treating staff, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders properly and fairly is not only the right thing to do but it is also a sensible long term business approach,” said Bidmead.

Ian Bidmead, MD, Space Group.

He further detailed Space’s strategy: “Being honest, whilst keeping an eye on what our competitors are doing can play a part in helping to improve our own business, we are far more focused on what we’re doing and on executing our own strategic plans. We set our own targets and measure our successes (and sometimes failures!) against these. Overall, I love to see decent operators growing and making good bottom line profits as it’s a good reflection on the state of the market, and I always want to see quality rewarded.”

Bidmead acknowledged that the road ahead will be difficult, concluding: “Anyone who really claims to be able to accurately predict the next 18 months is either deluded or dishonest! Against a variety of metrics, Space had one of its best ever years in 2019, and I can safely forecast that 2020 isn’t going to challenge it. However, we’ve worked hard over the last few years to make Space agile and responsive to the changing market, and those attributes will be even more important over the next couple of years as the market will undoubtedly look very different in 2021. However, there will still be plenty of opportunities for those businesses that are looking in the right places.”

Expert advice

Space MD Ian Bidmead believes: “I do think that working closely with key distributor customers is going to be increasingly important for equipment suppliers during uncertain times. The term ‘partnership’ is sometimes overused, but it perhaps it is more important than ever that real supply chain partnerships evolve faster than they have in the past. All of us can benefit from putting ourselves in others’ shoes sometimes – whether that is an equipment supplier truly understanding the challenges that distributors face, or vice versa, or both parties really looking at life from an end user’s perspective, and responding accordingly.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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