September 27, 2018
Wigmore Street is to kitchens what Hatton Garden is to diamonds: the jewel in the crown of the UK kitchen industry. From Boffi to Nicholas Anthony and Magnet, many of the big names in kitchens have a shop window to the world’s customers, but with London’s housing market in a fragile state and Brexit looming, kbbreview wondered how these iconic industry names were finding business these days.
Alison Benson took a stroll down the central London street to find out…
Zac Boyce, store designer, Magnet
‘People don’t want to spend as much as they used to’
There has been a noticeable drop in budgets this year. People generally don’t want to spend as much as they used to, especially in the rental market, which we have a lot of in central London, as most of our business is done within about five miles of here.
There is more a sense of viewing a kitchen project in terms of an investment that needs to reap a return. In the rental market, customers are tending to choose entry-level ready-to-assemble cabinets, which are easy and cheaper to deliver, but then spend £2,000 to £3,000 on a bespoke worktop, granite or quartz, which looks good, wears well and makes a difference to the aesthetic of the kitchen.
In terms of trends, I would say the demand generally is for a modern take on the shaker kitchen. There is still a lot of interest in handleless ranges and grey and dark blue lines do well. We have recently teamed up with Samsung to offer a range of ‘smart’ connected appliances. It’s at the top-end of budget and still a novelty, but it will be interesting to see how they do with the Magnet customer.
Andrew Crowe, showroom manager, Bulthaup
‘We are looking forward to the build-up to Christmas and are positive for 2019’
We have been on this street since the 1980s and now in 2018, are celebrating our 30-year anniversary. Bulthaup, still a family business, has a strong design pedigree and we are famous for product quality our clean, minimal style.
This is a uniquely challenging period, but confidence is high and we have always been an extremely busy showroom – on average our kitchens cost between £60,000 and £70,000 excluding VAT – the market is steady.
We are looking forward to the build-up to Christmas and we are positive for 2019. Design, function, quality and superior customer service has always been our ethos and in terms of design trends – natural door fronts in rough-sawn oak or anodised aluminium complemented with slim worktops made from practical and hard-wearing materials, such as laminate or stainless steel are very popular.
Craig Matson, managing director, Roundhouse
‘We will be coming to market soon with a lower price point range’
We are finding the market a bit tough right now. The uncertainty created by Brexit is not helpful, as well as all the talk about second referendums and the possibility of a snap general election We are finding people taking longer to make decisions.
This could mean that if Britain manages to separate from the EU in a sensible manner, we could see pent-up demand coming through next year. We are exposed in that most of the appliances we sell come from Germany, as well as most of our fittings and hinges, but we manufacture our furniture in the UK, where we have been investing.
At the top end, where we are, it’s about confidence and things will be rocky. It’s a divorce, so it’s going to be nice and tricky until the last minute. To manage the current trading environment, we have been diversifying a bit and will be coming to market soon with a lower price point range, using cost-efficient material to bring the price down.
Paul Goodwin, showroom manager,
Zeyko by Living by Design
‘In London, customers are looking for a mix-and-match effect with emphasis on the wow factor’
It was a really quiet summer, but the weekend the schools went back, suddenly the street perked up. People still come to Wigmore Street from all over the world – Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan. But we can only service the local area, and that’s mainly apartments. Our kitchens are priced at about £35,000 upwards.
There has been no pattern to business this year. It’s really been up and down. We find we benefit from our later opening hours. We are open until 6pm.
Many of the other showrooms close at 4pm. As for trends, we find that within the M25, the trend is to mix colours, handleless designs and ‘mix-and-match’ contrasting finishes, with an emphasis on the wow factor. Mixing metal and wood veneers is popular right now.
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