“It’s about making the kitchen a delight to use”
Two experienced fitters joined forces to open a showroom in London’s affluent Muswell Hill selling their own bespoke kitchens only to be faced four years down the line by Covid-19 and Brexit. Chris Frankland talks to Point5 Kitchens co-owner Joe Kardani.
The guys at Point5 were no rookies when they took the bold step of opening their impressive showroom in Lon–don’s affluent Muswell Hill in the summer of 2016.
Joe Kardani and Tomas Kolasinski had their own separate bespoke joinery companies and had worked together on many projects since 2005 prior to joining forces to form Point5 in 2011. Both were skilled fitters but also both brought their own two-man fitting teams with them, two of which are still with them today.
Kardani also had plenty of project management experience from his stint working for a developer, where he also designed kitchens.
When they spotted an opportunity in the Muswell Hill area for someone offering completely bespoke con–temporary furniture at competitive prices, they did not hesitate to make their move, and the fact that Kolasinski’s brother had a furniture factory in Poland furnished them with the rock-solid supply chain they needed to pull it off.
But why call it Point5? Kardani and Kolasinski both racked their brains apparently trying to come up with a name for their new venture, but when they started talking about the fact that they manufacture everything to fine tolerances – namely, 0.5mm – the choice of name became obvious.
The showroom has an impressive glass frontage that gives passers-by a good view of the interior.
But there are two other kitchen studios nearby. So how does that work?
Kardani explains: “Martin Moore opened just after we did, and to be honest it is a good, affluent area and it seemed like there was a gap in the market for someone making bespoke kitchens. Lambert Welch sells German kitchens and they are not bespoke and compared with Martin Moore, we offer a more contemporary product, so we’re not really in competition with each other.
“Their [Martin Moore’s] starting price is £75k+ and their kitchens are more traditional. We can do in-frame kitchens for people but most of our projects are more on the contemporary side.”
Bespoke is a word that is a bit overused these days, so just how bespoke are their kitchens?
“They are bespoke in terms of it doesn’t matter what size the cabinet is, what colour it is,” says Kardani. “It is not an expensive option for us to make a cabinet 611mm instead of 600mm as we make them all to order. A lot of people say their product is bespoke, but it uses standard cabinets and the scribes on the side might be huge, whereas we always make sure ours are the same on both sides. And for the insides of the cabinets, we offer hundreds of different colours and textures. We won’t limit customers to five options. It makes the process a lot longer, but it is nicer for the customer, because they really get to make the kitchen their own. We can do different woods for drawer and carcass interiors and we can mix handle details too.”
This they are able to do thanks to Kolasinski’s brother’s furniture factory in Poland.
Kardani says: “All the kitchens are made by my business partner Tomas’s brother at our factory in Poland. We make it all ourselves. Tomas was brought up as a joiner and his father used to make furniture as well, so the factory is on their family land it is all very in-house. We used to source some kitchens in the UK but all of our kitchens are now made in Poland. They can make any style of kitchen we choose. So if we did want to do a British-style kitchen, we can make it in our factory.”
The complete package
Lead times for Point5 are normally six to eight weeks. The factory does not make furniture for anybody else and they were expanding it at the time of our interview, creating a bit more space to streamline production.
As Kardani adds: “It means that there will never be a time when we take on a big job and they cannot supply, as we control it.”
Point5 is currently supplying around four kitchens a month at a typical price of around £40,000, although some of those would be complete joinery packages for the whole house, where they may not just do the kitchen, but also the bathroom cabinets, study and utility room.
Turnover is currently around £1.4 million and, says Kardani, has grown every year since they started.
Kardani ‘makes sure the customers are happy’ and also does some designing, while Kolasinski looks after installations and liaises with the factory.
Given that Point5’s kitchens are sourced in Europe, how does Kardani feel about the Brexit situation?
He is pragmatic: “To be honest, I try not to worry about something that we don’t really know the answer to. There is nothing we can do, but I don’t believe personally that we are going to have too many problems, because the UK imports so many goods from Germany and other European countries, so I can’t see them being too restrictive.
“And whatever happens to us is going to happen to everyone else who brings kitchens in from Europe, so I think we will all be in the same
In the relatively short time since they opened the showroom, Brexit is not the only looming crisis they have faced. They also had to cope with a global coronavirus pandemic. How did that affect them?
“We were working behind the scenes when we had the first lockdown,” Kardani recalls. “The shop was shut but we were still keeping things ticking over. We took a bit of a hit but nothing major.
“It just shifted jobs backwards and basically now we are just carrying on and, like most of the industry, touch wood, we remain very busy at the moment. There seems to be a good flow of customers.
“We spoke to a few people on Zoom during the first lockdown, but of course a lot of the projects we had already started and we would communicate with customers by email. We didn’t get a lot of new customers over that period, but it wasn’t terrible.”
The website refers to studies and home offices. Did lockdown give it
“I was hoping so,” admits Kardani, “but to be honest it didn’t really increase at all for us. It is ticking along like it always did. Maybe we aren’t promoting it enough. We have always done studies and home offices, but it’s a case of making people aware that we do them.”
Talking of marketing, Kardani adds: “We need to sort out our brand identity a bit. It’s very difficult to say ‘we do a bit of everything’, so I think we will promote mainly the kitchens, because those customers tend to find out we do other things anyway.”
He adds: “Someone will come in for a kitchen and then they realise that we do other bits and pieces. We get a fair bit of business that way.
“If we are already in a house to fit a kitchen, it’s no big deal to do a bedroom. We do get a lot of rooms with tricky sloping ceilings, but those are the sorts of projects we like.
“We like doing the loft rooms and things like that, because that’s what we’re about really – someone who can’t get anyone else to do it can come to us and we will sort it out for them. We enjoy the challenge and it becomes one of our USPs.”
Kardani says that they also focus a lot on the internals, whereas a lot of brands just have stock options. “We go through every unit and really try to tailor the storage space for people. We can make them so that one half of a cabinet has racking and one half shelving, or wine storage. If they want their wine stored at a certain angle, we can do that. It’s about making the kitchen work really well for the customer, fitting it to a high standard and making it a delight to use.”
Not long after they opened the showroom, they took on a dedicated designer. Kardani explains: “After a year we got Manuel Fusco on board and he’s been fantastic. He treats it like his own business and he is very dedicated and talented. He was formerly an architect in Venezuela. He used to do some planning drawings for a company over here and now he does kitchens with us.”
Trend-wise, Kardani confirms that open-plan is still very much on his customers’ agendas and that they do a lot of pantries and wine storage to help keep the look uncluttered. Most of their kitchens are contemporary but they can make in-frame as well.
In terms of appliances, Kardani tells kbbreview it’s Miele, Siemens and Gaggenau, while worktops are mainly Atlas Plan (porcelain) and Neolith, or Spekva if the customer specifies wood. Sinks are all undermounts from Blanco and the only taps they ever fit are Quooker boiling hot water taps, although they may also use conventional taps from Blanco for utility rooms.
So with things going well in Muswell Hill, is there perhaps another show-room on the horizon?
Kardani says: “That’s the magic question. I’m not sure. We haven’t looked into it 100%. I would like to go maybe Berkhamsted way, somewhere like that – an affluent area a little bit further out of London. I’m not sure – the hardest part of opening a showroom is making sure it is in the right area.”
Here’s hoping Point5 can look forward to a smoother rite of passage for it than Muswell Hill had, without the trials of Covid-19 and Brexit.