ALM Studios, an independent kitchen retailer based in Ascot, has expanded its business and reach into two new locations.
Both showrooms have been set up in collaboration with other companies. The Fulham showroom in south-west London, which opened at the start of September, is a partnership with Unreal Studio, an independent architectural design studio. While the Bagshot, Surrey, location is a small concession space inside Longacres Garden Centre and will be open in November.
Founded three years ago, this is the company’s first experience of such a collaboration. The process for both showrooms started before lockdown but was unavoidably delayed.
Hamid Abdi, managing director of ALM Studios, said: “Sometimes these opportunities come at the wrong time, but I am happy with this collaboration already. Even before we opened in Fulham, we managed to do some sales and during these times, which it is really amazing. Going forward, I think that this step will help the company grow quicker, as this concept can be rolled out with other companies as well.”
The collaborations took a lot of time to coordinate with the owners of both Unreal Studio and Longacres Garden Centre, but Abdi said that the work has already paid off. Enquires came through for the Fulham showroom before they opened and in the past fortnight the team there has already sold two kitchens.
Abdi added: “These collaborations gives you support in terms of growth and it helps the brand in the future. The support in having a partner is something that we can look at in a later time as a business model. I’ve already had talks with my business coach about the bigger picture and how we can incorporate this in to a business model over the next five years.”
The new location in south-west London is a new venture into the London market. ALM installs its own kitchens and at the moment there is only one fitter for the whole company. However, Abdi is looking at employing one specifically for the London area.
The Fulham showroom has two full displays split over two levels, with a lot of space to create more of a living space than just a kitchen, as Abdi sees open-plan living as a current trend his customers are interested in. There is also an office area for the team to work in and meet with clients.
Abdi said that concessions in garden centres like Longacres are quite rare, so he felt that he had to take that opportunity. The garden centre is only a short drive away from the main Ascot showroom, so the two can work in tandem by showcasing different kitchen styles.
Abdi said: “The question I asked myself was whether to get a bigger showroom and to move from Ascot to a bigger space or to look at the opportunity with Bagshot, which enhances the existing showroom. That just sounded more interesting for us.
“We have two showrooms in that area, which can work together because they are so close together. It means that customers can see different styles of kitchen and clients can meet in either showroom. I see both showrooms as one.”
At the moment, ALM has German and Italian brands – Miton, Alno and Binova – but for the Longacres space it will showcase British-manufactured shaker and in-frame kitchens. The British-manufactured kitchens will be sold under ALM’s own name as a way build the brand.
“Bringing in the British manufacturer completes the range. We have contemporary handleless, shaker and the in-frame, so we have all different types of kitchens,” said Abdi.