National Buying Group (NBG) survey reveals positive uplift in face to face meetings

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The NBG has released its latest Partner survey, which shows that Partners are feeling ready to open their showrooms and branches, and conduct face to face meetings with Suppliers on site. The survey has been carried out quarterly since the first lockdown last year. Overall, 94% of respondents indicated that their branches are now fully open, with 3% remaining closed on Saturdays, mainly because of a conscious change in business operating hours. This is a significant change since the last survey in November, when only 86% were fully open and 12% were closed on Saturdays.

There was also a small rise in the number of Partners who had fully opened their showrooms, from 48% last year to 57% now.

Nick Oates, NBG Managing Director, said: “It is fantastic to see so many of our Partners now in a position where they are confident to fully reopen their branches and showrooms. Through the NBG community all of our Partners have been able to share their experiences, advice, and best practice, ensuring the independent merchant sector was able to weather the pandemic.”

When conducting business, just over half (52%) are already allowing manufacturers’ representatives on site, with an additional 21% expected to allow visits by June, and 10% looking at July. 11% were looking further into the future, with plans to allow these visits again from the third quarter of 2021.

The survey also showed that 93% of respondents’ staff have returned to the office full time, with 3% splitting their work between a branch and their home, while 3% remain working from home full time.

Oates continued: “This has been an exceedingly difficult year for all of our Partners and Suppliers and while we’re seeing a huge amount of renewed optimism from many, there is still an understandable and very sensible note of caution. We’ve come a long way over the last year and it is in all of our interests to ensure that we maintain this momentum by continuing to follow Government guidelines and taking a sensible approach to reopening.

“The continued growth of the group is another promising step as the independent merchant sector begins to recover. Our collaborative approach and ever growing range of diverse product deals will hopefully help Partners and Suppliers as they continue to grow.”