Tag Archives: kitchens

Second Nature is top of the pops

Following its animated video, explaining the benefits of buying a kitchen from an independent retailer, Second Nature has now released a song and video.

Members of the company’s design and marketing department have created an original song, with lyrics following the process from looking for ideas, through to storage options.

Sales & marketing director of PWS, John Lennon said: “What started as a piece of light entertainment for the press, at the recent 1909 launch event, has evolved into a fun and light-hearted piece of marketing. The team not only wrote the music and lyrics but also created and produced the video footage in-house.

“It’s unique and lively, communicating the message about buying a new kitchen in an amusing, yet essentially informative and highly visual manner. It also reveals something of the personalities behind the Second Nature brand.”

PWS has released a suite of marketing initatives for its consumer-facing Second Nature website, including the original video animation, the Moodboard app and online real kitchen of the month.

KBSA welcomes more retail members

The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA) has added two retailers to its membership. PMI Interiors in Newcastle upon Tyne and Goddards Interiors in Saffron Walden, Essex have joined the retail members, which now total more than 300.

Paul Harrison at PMI lnteriors said on joining the association: “It’s vitally important to us that our customers are happy with their experience, from the moment they walk into the showroom to the moment their new furniture is finished and installed. We are proud to be a member of the KBSA,which upholds the highest standards in our industry.”

And Guy Goddard of Goddards lnteriors explains why he chose to join the association, commenting: “The KBSA provides a universal voice for quality retailers within the industry with a focus on quality and design. Membership can only be a positive thing.”

Burbidge takes on Woodfit brand

UK frontals and accessories manufacturer Burbidge has taken on the name and product image of hardware component distributor Woodfit, after the business went into administration. The move allows continuity of supply to Woodiit’s customers.

Managing director of Burbidge, Ben Burbidge commented: “Ensuring that we continually offer our loyal customers the very latest product range is vital, which is why joining forces with Woodfit is a positive and strategic move designed to enhance our offer. He continued: “By being able to distribute Blum hinge, drawer and lifting systems alongside our top quality door ranges, we are rapidly building a portfolio unrivalled in quality to offer the middle to upper UK kitchen market.”

He added: “And we look forward to developing our business further during 2013.” Burbidge was established in 1867 and is now in its fifth generation of the family. The company HQ is located in Coventry, where it also has a 1,500 sqm showroom.

LivingKitchen already two-thirds booked

German kitchen exhibition LivingKitchen already has more than 60% of its planned exhibition space for 2013 booked and is planning to have a more international focus. The show, which debuted in Cologne in 2011 , saw 185 companies exhibiting in 40,000sqm, which attracted 138,000 visitors.

Chief operating officer on the executive board of Koelnmesse, Katharina Hamma commented: “lnitial signs indicate that demand will be very high in 2013. At this early stage, we already have 90 firm registrations.” In 2013, LivingKitchen will once again take place in Halls 4.1, 4.2 and 5.2 ofthe Koelmesse in Cologne and is expected to have a more international focus.

Katharina Hamma continued: “For the second LivingKitchen, we are already in talks with all  relevant market participants and are confident that we will have the pleasure of welcoming a great number of them here in Cologne. We are expecting further growth from foreign companies, with enquiries currently coming primarily from ltaly, Spain, Turkey and Eastern Europe. “In the built-in appliance segment we are also already seeing specific plans from market leaders such as the BSH Group,  Miele, with a new stand concept, and AEG/Electrolux.”

She concluded: “We have a clear goal for LivingKitchen 2013: We want to validate our successful premiere, with the best and most important players in the international kitchen industry, with the unique mix of product presentations and events and by raising the level of internationality among exhibitors and visitors.”

Mobile furniture for kitchens

In an unfitted kitchen heavier units should ideally be mounted on wheels or castors so that they can be easily moved away from the wall for cleaning or re- decorating. It is important to ensure that the unit is level and sturdy so that it will not topple orfall over – this is especially important with larger units. If you add castors or wheels try to fix the type that have lever breaks so that the unit can be welI-stabilized when in position. Mobile furniture may also be used to create different settings or emphasis in a room.

For example, if you cook and entertain in the same place, a lightweight bookcase with a solid back, filled with a few choice books and pieces of china might be wheeled in front of a work surface (don’t overburden it or it will be heavy and difficult to move). This will create a temporary wall between the cooking and eating areas, then it can be pushed back against the wall when not needed. Butcher‘s blocks are useful because they can be stored under the worktop or in a corner but brought out to provide extra preparation space. Vegetable baskets are similarly adaptable; they can be brought out when shopping is being unpacked then rolled back into their storage area, or taken to the sink for vegetables to be removed for washing and preparation. For people who spend time in the kitchen and prepare food from scratch, it is important that units and appliances are at the correct height.

The function of the kitchen sink is now mainly replaced by the dishwasher, but vegetables and pots and pans, as well as valuable china and delicate crystal glasses, are still washed by hand. Stooping over a low sink or stretching up to a tall worktop can be laborious and is likely to cause accidents so make sure that the base of the sink or height of the worktop are at a comfortable level. A mix of mid-height and taller units will make it posssible for a couple who are of notably different heights to work without incurring backache from leaning over or stretching beyond their natural reach. Eye-level grills should also be at eye-leveI – if not it is difficult to watch food being cooked and you may burn your hand on the grill when the grill pan is being removed. So make sure that the kitchen is fitted to suit your height and eye-level rather than that of the ‘average’ person.

A multi-function kitchen

If you plan to use your kitchen in different ways it is best to think of the room divided into sections. Assign an area for cooking and food preparation, another for eating and a third for sitting and relaxing. Ideally there should be a logical order to the layout so that when the food is ready to eat it can be quickly and easily transferred to the table in the eating area. The seating area should be furthest away from the food preparation section, so that when the work is done the kitchen can be cleared and the lights turned off. lt is also safer to take hot dishes directly to the dining area instead of walkingthrough a busy living area.

lf the room is too small to subdivide into three separate areas, subtract or condense the functions until you can allow comfortable space for each one. For example, an island unit or peninsula worktop without overhead cupboards could double as an dining table with high stools and still create a barrier between cooking and seating areas. The eating space that doubles as a living area should have chairs that are comfortable enough to linger in after a meal, with a table that is at a good height to do homework or other pastimes. Or a foldaway table and chairs could be used for dining, then put away when not in use, and armchairs on castors could be pushed to the outer edges of the room when meals are in progress. Alternatively, the living and dining functions could be combined by having an adjustable table that can be raised when you are eating or lowered to coffee table height when you are relaxing.

Know the score

Nothing beats a party invitation landing on your desk, especially if its celebrating a 20th anniversary. But they aren’t exactly the most common, particularly over the last couple of hard-hit years for retailers. Yet, Connaught Kitchens in Central London sent us exactly that, so we decided to take a visit to find out how this business has been so successful. Opened in 1991 by Phillip Ozorio, Connaught Kitchens has recently undergone a showroom refurbishment as part of its anniversary celebrations. A spiral staircase leads downstairs to three new kitchen displays, with the addition of a high gloss Sand Beige range from Leicht, with the space opening upto reveal a matt white display also from Leicht. And at the end of the space, (in what appears to be a former cellar), is a Hacker kitchen roomset.

More than kitchens

Despite the name Connaught Kitchens, the showroom also offers the surprise of a bathroom display. But Phillip Ozorio explains that the company always provided bathrooms as well as kitchens, they just used brochures to sell from rather than working displays. Phillip continues: “Three of the [five - strong] design team actually do bathrooms.” In fact, the ability for it to provide kitchens and bathrooms has seen the company even exploring larger interior projects. Connaught Kitchens is currently working on a two-year on-going project in Belgravia. The project started with a kitchen, which then went on to a bathroom in one house, where they worked closely with the clients’ interior designer The client then used Connaught Kitchens for the entire refurbishment of a second property she bought.

According to Phillip, the Belgravia project contributed to around 15% of its annual revenue. In addition, a contract for eight kitchens in Hyde Park represented a quarter of its turnover this year Phillip comments: “If another project came up, like the Belgravia project, we would seriously consider it but it would be a separate business. The danger is you could become reliant on the interior design side to supplement the shortfall of the kitchens side. The kitchens side should stand on its own two feet and the interior design side should be an add-on rather than supplementing it. Having said that, it has helped us remain in profit right through the recession and we have same number of people [on board].”

Marketing it right

Although a major part of his business, this year then, has been through word of mouth, Phillip believes it is important to market the business too. In fact, he is looking to work with neighbouring estate agents, art galleries and other businesses within the area, such as Forsa, which imports products from South Africa – to do more events and generate awareness of the company. Phillip believes it is important to have a clear marketing strategy.

But he also warns: “You have to be careful if you do a lot of marketing as you will increase your leads, but you might not necessarily increase your orders. You could be attracting people that might not necessarily be able to afford your product. Or it could be that you are attracting people that are shopping around more. lfa client has been to 10 places, your chance of getting that business is 1:10 realistically. Even though you like to think you’re better than everyone else and you’ll be more competitive.”

Lessons in business

After twenty years, Phillip has lived and learnt from his business choices. He visits Eurocucina in Milan every two years to keep abreast all the fashion changes and get an insight into what is going on in the market place. And he is well aware ofthe difference in the market from when he first started. He believes: “The biggest change in the twenty years we have been in business is that the consumer has got much smarter. The cheaper products on the market have come on a long way and there isn’t as much 0fa gap now. When I first started in this business, people were queuing up to buy kitchens. Everybody wanted them.

There were very few kitchen showrooms around. The work load was phenomenal. You were taking in six designs a day and you could only work through two. You’d have to give people ball park figures and decide who was serious to get through and please everyone? Phillip adds: “The hardest time I was the middle bit. We realised we invested too much money in the j showroom and what we should have done was do it in phases and keep more reserves back. I went with the things I knew, which wasn’t the best decision. One ofthe worst decisions we ever made was to put a Scottwood kitchen, which they launched at lnterbuild, in the basement, when we should have put it in the front window.

Secrets to success

Whilst you may think Connaught Kitchens would extend its business and open another showroom, Phillip has an argument to suggest this isn’t always a wise move. He believes they have been successful because they are small and have one showroom. “Philosophy is in good times, it would pay. But you would have double the problem if things were to go wrong. It you had a quiet period for three months, and you have it in both showrooms, you have double the problem.”

According to Phillip, the best part of the twenty years in business has been the repeat business, with a range of clients from architects and designers to consumers who use them time and time again for different properties. His advice for success is: “Try not to take too much out of the business. That’s been our philosophy. The more you take out of the business, the more tax you pay. The business is quite cash rich and that’s because we have been quite sensible about what we can afford as a family. I think thats the secret to riding periods when you have dips and you may have a couple of quiet months – especially if you’re not in the hands of the banks. When l first started in the business, you could borrow £25k without any security, it was a wink and a handshake. Now it’s the opposite end of the spectrum.”

But Phillip is optimistic for 2012, commenting: “I think 2012 will be quite an interesting year. I think it will be better and l think the Olympics will help a lot. It will help all the businesses like hotels and eventually that money will feed through to the kitchens and bathrooms industry. l have high expectations.” And this is reflected in the fact that Connaught Kitchens has just signed the lease for another 15 years. So, here is to 35 successful years of trading!

What you may see soon in your kitchen


The market for extraction seems to divide mainly into overblown statement or completely concealed, but it’s the latter which may have the most attention in 2012. Sales director of Caple, Danny Lay explains: “Sleek versions with covers that slide away, look incredibly chic and offer consumers a sense of interactivity and luxury that will make them hugely fashionable. Downdraft versions that silently rise out of island units are incredibly cool and offer the ‘wow’ factor These looks are sure to make their mark on 2012.”

In fact, Martin Wilson assistant product manager of built-in hot for AEG, explains: “AEG is introducing an electronically-operated hood which rises at the touch ofa button when in use and lowers back out of view into a cupboard unit when not needed.”


If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the oven is the pulse. Central to kitchen design, cooking convenience and improved energy efficiency will be key for oven sales.

Bill Miller; sales and marketing director of ATAG, comments: “Single ovens that offer split oven technology have been of tremendous value. The best ovens will offer exceptional functionality, alongside a strong energy rating and thoughtful features such as telescopic shelves for easy access and pyrolytic cleaning?

Nigel Jacobs of Euroline Sales & Marketing adds: “l think designers and engineers will be working hard to maximise the cavity sizes to be as large as physically possible in 600mm. Multi-functions are likely to develop further to utilise lots of different cooking styles in one oven – think the multifunction, steam, gas, induction, micro~ grill oven with pyrolytic cleaning!”

Kitchen taps:

Modem designs with a classical twist are the key looks for kitchen taps. Paul Illingworth, head of design at Abode comments: “Consumers in some demographic segments are looking for designs that clearly reflect their modern tastes, but also share space neatly with a lifetime of beloved possessions? And like the white goods, these appliances are also expected to be multi-function with spray heads, filtration or boiling water options.

Steve Cole, managing director of Perrin & Rowe, says: “Filtration will continue to grow in popularity with traditional shapes likely to remain a popular style among homeowners.”


According to our industry experts, it won’t be the palette of colours which lead worksurface sales, it will be the form of thickness and shape. Stuart White, managing director of Bushboarcl, comments: “Referencing natural materials will continue as a very strong trend. Developments in surface textures, printing and composite material manufacture means laminates and solid surfaces both deliver well to these trends now, so there will be greater interest in worktop thicknesses and edge protiles.” And ofcourse worktops need to meet the trend for curved furniture. Andrew Pickup, from Karonia, adds: “The current trend for curved cabinets presents no difficulties for Mistral, as the exact cunxes can be replicated in the worksurface simply and easily.”


The largest factor affecting refrigeration will be the revision to the EU energy labelling scheme in July. David Garden, commercial manager for LEC and GE at GDHA, reports: “[lt] could have a huge effect on the refrigeration market and will result in a significant increase in energy efficient models to A+. All cooling appliances will have to display an EEI index, which is a numerical rating between one and 55 – with one being most efficient.

An appliance that boasts an A rating may become illegal for sale if it does not have an EEl of 44 or less. Steve Macdonald of Hoover Candy adds: ‘”fhere will also be a shift towards a three- drawer 600mm combi, where the third drawer is a choice of freezes: or O-4°C.”

With the advantage of saving water and being more effective than washing by hand, the dishwasher is becoming a must-have for the home. Kevin john, sales and marketing director of V-ZUC, comments: “Price will still be a major factor in dishwasher sales, but we expect consumers to increasingly focus on energy and water as costs of both begin to rise, and as a result look to more premium brands that can offer the greatest efficiency in power and water consumptio.

Bill Millen sales and marketing director of Gorenje, adds: “lnterest in slimline and compact versions is growing, as they offer all the benefits and time-saving capabilities as a standard dishwasher but in a smaller footprint.”

Kitchen predictions for 2012

An extension of the living environment for socialising, alongside cooking and eating, will continue to push boundaries in kitchen design. Consumers will continue looking at how to create something different and there will be more demand for features that make the kitchen stand out, from curves and colour through to textures.

But 2012 will be the year for consumer choice, demanding quality at cost – effective prices, with top-end product trends now making their way into the mainstream market. With consumers working longer hours, convenience will also be a key purchasing factor and will influence appliance design and sales.

But one of the biggest stories for the kitchen, in 2012, will be the demand for energy-efficient and water-saving appliances. It will be driven by law in July and also by consumers’ need to reduce their ever-increasing utility bills. Design director of Mowlem & Co, Jane Stewart summarises: “Most of all, the kitchen will become a customised space created for each individual household’s specific needs – be that a grand and glamorous scheme or a compact design that completely packs away when not in use.”

Kitchen furniture:

Handleless furniture will continue be a theme in 2012 with islands, where space allows, varying levels and curves. Managing director of Stoneham Kitchens, Adrian Stoneham comments: “A particular area in which we will concentrate is curved designs for base units, islands and even overhead units.”

But Bodie Kelay, director of Bauformat UK, argues: “Curves may be a nice idea in principle but in reality they can be problematic. They require a large amount of floor space. . . [and] a large amount of cash. For homeowners looking for a less expensive alternative, it could well come in the form ofdiagonal units.”

And for colour it’s out with high gloss and, for on-trend homes, in with matt finishes and painted wood. Simon Collyns, marketing director at Symphony, comments: “We’ll see a continuation of neutral colours and earthy tones dominating the scene in 2012. We’ve seen a definite move towards more matt finishes. High gloss will be less prominent and in its place will be more wood with authentic characteristics.”

Kitchen sinks:

While stainless steel undoubtedly reigns in kitchen sales, composites and ceramics have made some headway as consumers look to inject colour Neil Clark, sales and marketing director of Carron Phoenix, says: “Black is going to be a very dominant colour in 2012 for sinks. Sales of our granite sinks in jet black are outgrowing those of the historical top seller of Graphite by two to one. Black ceramic is performing strongly too.”

And in terms of form, bigger bowls are still better as the workstation trend now moves into the mainstream. Sales and marketing director of Reginox UK, Dave Mayer explains: “Currently workstation sinks are considered more of a top-end product. However demand for them is growing amongst the lower to mid-end market and we are now seeing more affordable models being introduced?


Capacity is key for washing machines, with models holding up to 11kg, but it will be programme features that drive laundry sales. The ability to wash at lower water temperatures, saving money on utility bills, as well as specihc programmes to improve fabric care will be key.

Simon Freear, country manager for Amica in the UK, warns: “‘With the ability to wash laundry at lower temperatures comes the need for self – cleaning washing machines – high temperature sterilisation at regular intervals is necessary to help prevent the build-up of dirt, mould and odours caused by regular low-temperature washing to keep these appliances properly functioning for the full- term of their lite expectancy.”


Gas is the still the fuel of choice for hobs and has already seen the introduction of Direct Flame burners. “Getting heat to the pan in the most efticient way will be a major focus for hobs in 2012 says Hotpoint brand director lan Moverley. But, according to the marketing director of Hoover Candy, Steve Macdonald: “Direct flame products are a strong future trend for hobs. However; this technology won’t go mainstream (mid—priced hobs) until end of 2012, early 2013.”

However induction is quickly chasing down gas hob sales, as the technology filters down the market. Libby Morley, lndesit advertising and communications managen says: “Competitively·priced induction hobs are making induction technology accessible to everyone. We see induction as a prime competitor for electric sealed and ceramic hobs, but maybe less so for gas hobs.”

Kitchens International adds to its’ workforce

Kitchens International has appointed Brian Docherty as operations manager and Chris Redpath to warehouse manager Docherty will oversee all office operations, warehouse administration and control stock levels. The company has also promoted Carol Cameron to showroom manager of the Edinburgh Dundas Street showroom, having previously worked for Kitchens International for 13 years as a sales designer. Three new sales designers have also been appointed in Dudas Street, Edinburgh’s Westfield Road branch and Glasgow.

Matt Phillips has been appointed as commercial manager for Rotpunkt Kitchens, available in the UK through Waterline. He has worked for Waterline for 12 years and joins james Kidd to further develop the Rotpunkt business. Phillips will be responsible for expanding the network of Rotpunkt dealers. Taking over as regional sales manager for Phillips’ area is Martin Baker, who brings with him 15 years’ of experience with Magnet Kitchens.

Following an overall growth in sales, Portico Midlands has appointed Adam johnson as sales manager and Andy Depper and Sarah Powell as field sales representatives. johnson will be responsible for nurturing existing relationships and Depper and Powell are tasked with increasing the number of trade customers. Depper will look after the North of the country, bringing with him 20 years’ of sales experience and Powell will be responsible for the South.

Gudula Becker from D & G Agencies and Nicolas Gee from THJ Solutions have been appointed by Glass ldromassaggio as representatives for the UK market. They will be responsible for the retail sales network, as well as growing the untapped project market. Becker has 25 years’ experience as a supplier to the furniture retail trade, and Gee has been supplying bathroom products to the retail and construction sectors for five years.

Designers Richard Donaldson and Emma Gains have joined PWS to strengthen the company’s design capabilities. Donaldson takes the role of product designer and brings with him an honours degree in design, with experience in product and interaction design. Gains has been appointed as showroom designer and she has previously worked as a furniture designer in Milan. She brings with her an honours degree in interior architecture and design.

What women want in their kitchens

Although misogynists may argue a woman’s place is in the home, few could counter that its very heart – the kitchen – is frequently designed with a masculine look and appeal. Now German designerlette loop has created a self-titled furniture collection for RWK to attract female admirers. lf anything could encourage women to scurry back to the scullery, this stylish furniture collection would certainly be it. At least, that’s what Leeds retailer Arlington Interiors hopes, as it is home to the first lette loop display in the UK.

A feminine touch

The whole concept of the lette kitchen is inspired by semi- precious stones and it is estimated to start at around £20,000. It is specifically aimed at women and the cabinets feature angled sides with bespoke walnut interiors. Purple glass splash backs, drawer sides  and shelves – all featuring a bird motif and the lette signature – are elements which have been designed to appeal to more feminine tastes.
Arlington Interiors director Richard Bates says: “Jette designed the kitchen because traditionally kitchens have been aimed at men. The linear look, especially the German look, is very masculine and there isn’t really a feminine element to them. That’s what lette is trying to introduce with the birds and the glass. The signature of the lette kitchens is the glass and the angles, especially. We’ve seen angles in kitchens before and we’ve seen islands in similar shapes, but they have been a shape, not particularly functional. You can see we’ve got handleless, fully-functioning drawers within those areas.”

Although it has been predominantly designed for women, a masculine appeal can also be created within the choice of acrylic or ceramic fronted doors and wood finishes. The purple glass is also available in jade green or a dark red and customers can select doors from a range of textures and finishes.

Moving business up-market

lt is hoped this top-end range will help propel the Arlington Interiors business into the upper price tier of kitchen retail. Following an MBO in 2004, the business (owned and staffed by its directors Ben Russell and Nick Tindall, along with Richard Bates), was targeting the contract sector. And it had been successful with a contract for 112 kitchens soon after its launch. But following the recession, the contract  market has dwindled. Richard explains: “The lower end seems to have dropped off. With the lette kitchen, we are creating a high end showroom, creating the £20,000, £30,000 or £40,000 kitchen. We have high expectations. We know people’s budgets have shrunk and we are putting out a product that is high-end but there are still big spenders. It is aspirational. I feel someone could come in here and say ‘wow l would love this but l also like what else you’ve got’. So you can also sell from it. Not everybody is going to want a £1,600 carbon fibre tap, but you can sell from that to something else. lt all helps.”

Setting display standards

But of course to attract the top – end clients, it’s not only how the  kitchen looks but how it is presented which is of key importance. And Arlington Interiors redesigned its showroom to cater for the lette loop furniture collection. The area of the showroom where the jette ‘lifestyle’ is displayed was originally two separate rooms, one a fully-functioning kitchen and the other a presentation area. The directors spent seven weeks remodeling the area to meet the standards set in place byjette herself, and they have made sure everything within the area is available for customers to buy, Richard explains: “lt is part of the deal that RWK has with Jette herself. She is very  particular about how it is displayed, what you can have as a finish and how it is designed into a space. The finish ofthe room is completed to her exacting standards. We have kept it true to what she wants”.

He continues: “What we are trying to achieve with the room, is that anything we put in it, is available to our customers. So if they want a glass table, they can have that. lf they fancy glass partitions, we can supply that. Even down to the slate on the walls, we sell slate walls. We can do the whole thing. lt’s like that throughout most of the showroom, but we have really concentrated on it in the Jette Joop part.”

Customer feedback

Now that the jette loop area is complete, Nick and Richard are able to get up off their hands and knees laying floor and fitting cabinets, and get back to selling kitchens. And, this is what they are accomplished at doing. Richard explains a key to the company’s success is not only preparing the customer for the work ahead but also striving to get feedback, following the project, in a bid to further improve their business: “When we do a customer presentation we can show them photographs of a project that is similar or involves a similar amount of work, which preconditions them that at some point their house is going to be a bit of a mess.” He continues: “We then go out and chat to them about their experiences, what aspects they liked and what aspects they felt needed work. It is good to have a bit of honest feedback” And this way of working has served them well, as the business is frequently recommended by its customers. Ben Russell comments: “Our success must be down to something we have been doing  right because of the amount of recommendations we get”. He admits: “We have been a lot more pro-active in the downturn, with regards to advertising.”

But he counters: “Word of mouth is still our biggest (draw of business) as you can’t beat a customer raving about your business.” Trading in these times is still  undoubtedly tough, and the directors point out it is still hard getting consumers to commit to a purchase, but they are confident the jette loop kitchen will drive sales. Whether their kitchens are designed for men or women, the company is sure that it can and will continue to deliver whatever its premium-end customers want.