The IPG hosted its latest conference in Spain, with the theme of Livin’ la Vida Loca (Livin’ the crazy life), seeing what happens when business and social collide.

The group’s members and suppliers were in attendance, to network, learn, and discuss the latest industry trends. Hosted by comedian Shaparak Khorsandi, the event included sessions to help the audience in their working lives, including insight from Nigel Risner on different personality traits and how to communicate more effectively, and a masterclass from Lucy James on how to optimise the recruitment process and hire the best possible people for the job.

Joe Sharpe from Installer shares his takeaways from the event.

Massive opportunity in the market

It’s an exciting time in the heating and plumbing industries, with lots of room for change, opportunities and growth. With legally binding carbon targets to hit, the need for heat pumps, cylinders, insulation, underfloor heating and more has all become a lot more prominent. This will affect the market for independent stores, suppliers, installers and beyond. There will be movement as some brands grow, acquire, and consolidate. For independents, this means the opportunity to stock new products and reach new customers. We spoke to Sarah Jones, Owner of Bathrooms at Source, which is traditionally a bathroom showroom and is now adding a trade counter – Sarah told us that she is looking to train herself and her staff in renewables.

The benefits of strong relationships

A large portion of the conference was networking between the group’s members and their suppliers. It’s a fast moving industry, and there are lots of innovations, technical advancements and exciting new products. Manufacturers were discussing their latest developments to members, who could choose which would appeal to their individual customer base. Through The IPG, members get access to good terms from suppliers, and those savings are then passed on to their customers. There is a perception that shopping at your local independent is more expensive, but clearly, that is not always the case, especially if the independent is part of The IPG. Three winners of the Heating Installer Awards were also in attendance, sharing their experiences in the industry and talking about what installers need to streamline their businesses. The need to work collaboratively and create strong relationships to benefit all parties, was a key takeaway from the event.

The importance of good service

For installers, price, availability, and service will be three of the core things they look for when choosing where to get their materials. For independent stores, good service is their absolute priority. It’s their name above the door and their reputation on the line with every transaction. In that way, they are very similar to installers, and some even opened their branch coming from on the tool’s backgrounds. Installers and independent stores are all individual, they run their businesses in different ways, work in different areas, are different sizes and are all unique. The installer- independent store relationship is a partnership, and SMEs talking to SMEs, who understand the same pressures, challenges and opportunities, makes a lot of sense.

Shopping independent is good for business

At the event, we spoke to Robin Beal – Chairman of The IPG. Robin set the group up 10 years ago, and it’s grown into an impressive network of well over 200 plumbing, heating, and bathroom stores nationwide. Robin explained how the independent market is thriving. There is lots of competition from big names, but it makes business sense for installers to shop independent. Quality of service, knowledgeable staff and comparative pricing all make independents an appealing option.

Look for the logo

The IPG has launched a campaign to highlight the benefits for installers shopping at their local independent. All installers have to do is look for The IPG logo on the signage, or on the website.

To learn more about The IPG and find your local members, head to

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