Connaught Kitchens celebrates 30 years in business

A London boutique kitchen showroom is celebrating 30 years trading from its Porchester Place showroom in central London.

The 1,200sq ft Connaught Kitchens store in Connaught Village, near Hyde Park, is only a stone’s throw from London’s famous kitchen alley in Wigmore Street, and was set up in 1991 by Phillip Ozorio.

The boutique kitchen showroom has two displays upstairs and four room-set displays downstairs in three ‘vaults’.

Kbbreview spoke exclusively to design director Phillip Ozorio about reaching their 30-year milestone.

He told kbbreview: “I think it has been a great achievement as we set up in the recession and we have seen the financial crisis and then we had Brexit, which was a big problem in London because there was so much uncertainty. I remember being on my way to a site when we had all those bombs on the Underground. Then we had Covid. They were all things you have to work around. They all affect business and confidence. But we are still here. We are small enough to adapt and change to the changing retail environment.”

And that changing environment has seen him progress from hand-drawing all designs to using the latest computer software, and using virtual consultations and Zoom to keep business moving during pandemic and its lockdowns, and after.

Talking about Connaught Kitchens’ customer profile, Ozorio said: “Over the years we have built up a loyal base of key architects, interior designers and small developers who use us two or three times a year and that formulates around 90% of our current business. Off-the-street business is still buoyant but it is difficult as we do have quite a lot of competition on Wigmore Street.

“We have been with Leicht from the very beginning. We trialled the more traditional kitchens, but we keep on returning to contemporary, because it seems to work in London. You need quite a big country house to display that traditional kitchen with the Aga and massive islands. There is an interest in those in London, but I think it is leaning towards more contemporary or fusion.”

You might also like:   Vanessa Brady awarded honorary Doctorate

Ozorio told kbbreview that they started out doing both kitchens and bathrooms.

“We started doing kitchens and bathrooms as I had experience in bathroom design,” explained Ozorio. “But we found that the bathroom business was interfering with the kitchen business, because there is always more design work on bathrooms than on kitchens. With kitchens you will usually just get one kitchen and maybe a utility room, but you could easily get three bathrooms. Also we had limited displays for bathrooms, because of the size of the shop, and so we went back to focusing on just kitchens. If we do need to buy bathroom products for a client, we buy from CP Hart and bathrooms are now more of a design add-on for us for past kitchen clients who want to work with us because they know us.”

As well as Phillip Ozorio, the business now also employs his son Patrick as team administrator and two fully trained interior designers, as Connaught Kitchens offers a design service that makes sure a kitchen will blend in with the style of the rest of the house.

Ozorio said that they now do fewer projects in a year, but higher-value ones, so that they have improved profitability. They have also taken on a nine-kitchen project in EC1 for a small developer, “which is a departure from what we normally do”.

As for the future, Ozorio told kbbreview that he would like to take on more contract work: “We would like to do more of this and the consultancy side is really important. We were brought in initially as consultants [for the EC1 project] but at the end of the day will also be supplying product. We can do supply only, dry carpentry fit or full installation. We have put a team together over the past two years to offer full installation. It is not something we are frightened of.”

Have something to say? Email the editor