Charlie Smallbone

Premium market ‘still doing well’ says Smallbone

Premium kitchen market pioneer Charlie Smallbone says the sector is holding up well through the Covid disruption as wealthy people want to see well-planned projects through.

However, speaking on the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast, Smallbone said that didn’t mean those clients didn’t want value for money.

Smallbone now runs his own boutique luxury kitchen business in Notting Hill, London called Ledbury Studio.

“When we set this business up we were looking less at big developments and more at individual people who wanted a nice kitchen and there still seems to be those people out there,” he said.

“But we find that the gestation period is quite prolonged as these are major projects for them. So if they start something they’re going to want to finish it no matter what, that’s the way this market works. People might have started a project this time last year and they’re still only maybe a third of the way through a building cycle.”

People with money will always be prepared to spend it to get what they want, Smallbone says, and the pandemic hasn’t changed that but they still want to feel it’s been spent wisely.

“I think it’s always been that way,” he said. “But I’ve always wanted to deal with people who understand value. I don’t find it insulting in any way shape or form if somebody says to me ‘Look, that’s too expensive. You need to sharpen your pencil.’ And sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t but if you have a relationship with the client, which I think is absolutely critical that our level of the market, you have to respect people’s requirements”

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Smallbone first set up a business in the late 1970s and has seen many economic upheavals [read his full story here] so in The kbbreview Podcast interview he also offered advice for anyone managing their first.

“How confident are you that your business model is the one that it needs to be,” he said.  “When you when you first set up your business, what was it that you were really trying to achieve that would set you apart from the pack?

“We started our business pretty much in the winter of discontent in 1978. If it’s black now, it was black then as well I can assure you. Also at that time you also had a government which was taking tax of probably 95p in the pound from high net worth individuals so there were a lot of negatives that could hold things back in this market, but we had to get on with it. If you believe you’ve got something that you like and the people are going to like it then you put yourself out there and test that theory.”

Listen to the episode of The kbbreview Podcast featuring Charlie Smallbone using the player below or search ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice. There you can see all the previous episodes and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss new ones.

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