Over the past four decades, kitchen furniture manufacturer Rational has grown from a craft business into an international kitchen brand. Having previously produced furniture in Melle – Riemsloh, the company has recently moved production to Walmunchen, Germany and Majano in ltaly.
High volume pieces of furniture are now produced at the Snaidero head quarters in Majano, while more sophisticated and special made products, like Atmos and Neos, are manufactured in Walmunchen. Craig Burgess Allen, UK national sales manager at Rational, explains why: “To continue to succeed in the current climate, over the last few years, Rational has made more effective use of group production”.
Adapting to change
Originally the company had seven production sites and rationalised these to selected the most high- tech plants. All the marketing, sales, IT and administration is based in Melle-Riemsloh, Germany. Whereas most of the materials came from Snaidero and therefore it was more cost effective to move some of the production there. Craig explains: “There has been no change to the product, it is still a true European product and 80- 90% of the parts are international.” He continues: “Some people didn’t understand why there were three parts ofthe business but we still supply on time and it is a good product so it works for us.”
Adding to offer
Along with the production changes, Rational has also developed its product lines to meet the requirements of the market. It has introduced its Tio range at a lower price band and expanded product choice across its ranges. Craig says: “The retail market has held out well but the project market has shrunk. There is a ’wait and see’ approach from buyers in general and having waited for some months, buyers are getting back into the market. This is also the case for developers and specifiers.”
To whet the tastebuds of buyers, there has been an increased development in materials, finishes and shapes within the Rational product ranges. Craig explains: “The greatest development within the last two years is the expansion of material available. New soft, smooth lacquers and book matched veneers, as well as options on and in glass have now been introduced to our ranges.’
Not least, the fashion-forward colour purple has been welcomed as an addition to the Rational portfolioi Craig goes on to say: “Style, function and fashion all matter A design without attention to any of these will lead to a lack of success. Designers need to keep abreast of new trends and planning solutions incorporating new materials.” The companys declared aim is to develop and produce kitchens ‘by people for people’, and the breadth of kitchens now available cater for a wide range of budgets.
Wood and porcelain
Rational showcased its latest, wide-ranging offer at its recent hausmesse. A key theme of the show was the introduction of new woods, with oak and wenge Hnishes in the lower price range and a real wood veneer in the upper price segment. The Cult range introduced saw cut veneer with 22 mm thick fronts. In addition, the Cult furniture range also showcased a sliding door system made from Porcelain. Rational had used ceramic, measuring 6mm thick, for the doors. But it also revealed a worktop made from 4mm thick porcelain. In addition, unit variants were introduced to the Cambia and Onda ranges, with some cupboards featuring semi- circular fronts.
The talking point
But arguably one of stars of the Rational show was its Tio range. Craig comments: “We have introduced Tio at a lower price band.” It averages out to be around 30% less expensive than a typical Rational kitchen. As Craig says: “For style and price, Tio is up and coming. But whichever price group the kitchen falls into, it is still the same quality.”
Rational launched the Tio with a focus on the young house buyer lt started with six lacquers but has been extended by the inclusion of 18 high gloss finishes and 16 new soft lacquer finishes, as well as some options in glass. Tio is now available in a choice of 40 finishes. Craig explains: “To begin with, Tio had the price but not the choice.
However; as it is now available in so many different options, it has both.” He continues: “People are looking for more space. They want focal points and features that work, as well as create the ‘wow’ factor A clever use of space and free flowing lines, and the use of imagination, are essential to people now.” And these features are shown in abundance at its showroom, which has been created to set a standard for its retailers. In fact, Craig cites this as a winning formula for the company.
He concludes: “RationaI’s success is based on our ability to create special environments with our dealers and their design expertise.”