Smallbone vacates Knightsbridge showroom amid legal battle with landlord

Lux Group Holdings, the owner of luxury kitchen brand Smallbone, has vacated its Knightsbridge showroom following an ongoing legal dispute with its landlord.

Kbbreview was made aware of a legal notice affixed to the premises – 197-205 Brompton Road – by the landlord the South Kensington Estates (SKE). Dated October 15, the notice stated: “The landlord has terminated the lease based on the tenant’s non-payment of rent which is a repudiatory breach of contract.”

However, after contacting Lux Group directly, kbbreview has subsequently learnt that the company has been in dispute with the landlord over a series of floods and leaks since 2020, when the company took on the lease.

A letter from Lux Group’s solicitors, Devonshires, has confirmed that the company is suing SKE for “failure to meet legal responsibilities” and “loss and damages in excess of £50 million”.

Speaking directly to kbbreview about the situation, Lux Group owner Ron Shemesh said: “We had high hopes for the Brompton Road showroom. We spent a small fortune – around £10 million – creating the right space, unfortunately the premises were not fit for purpose.”

Shemesh said that the issues with the premises have been going on for 42 months and that there have been “multiple leaks and floods”. The most recent flood on October 4, he alleges, resulted in sewage flooding the premises.  

“We’ve tried to be accommodating, but the space cannot be what we need it to be,” he said. “There’s no sense of luxury when you have tubs collecting water throughout the showroom every day for six months straight.”

Lux Group announced its plans to open an “immersive, high-end gallery” space in Knightsbridge in February 2020. The showroom eventually opened in May 2021, following “15-months of delays, after defects with the building were discovered”.

Shemesh added: “The inherent defects continued to cause issues even when we were open and we have been in dispute with the landlord ever since. We will eventually get justice, but it may take some time.”

Speaking on behalf of SKE Karl Elliott, head of asset and property management said: “After extensive negotiations with Lux including mediation, South Kensington Estates were left with no alternative but to terminate the lease due to the lack of engagement and non-payment of rent for a two-year period. With the ongoing litigation, we cannot elaborate further.”However, according to Lux’s solicitor the rent had been suspended under terms of the lease.

Despite the ongoing legal battle, Shemesh is upbeat about the brand and its future. 

“We’re moving on,” he said. “We have a large backlog of projects, so we can sustain the interruption of not being able to use the Brompton Road showroom. It’s not an issue, we’re very well-funded. We [Lux Group] invested £45m into the business when we bought it in 2018 because we love the brand. The brand is very, very strong, it’s got fantastic provenance and we will continue to invest in the brand.

“We’re in the process of creating a studio within our luxury offices across the road from Harrods. This space will have five displays. The first is already in place and the rest will be finished by mid-December.

“We still very much think having an immersive, gallery-style space, like Brompton Road, featuring other luxury goods, is the way forward for the brand. We are also looking at new showroom premises and will soon formally announce our new location on Wigmore Street, where Smallbone once had a showroom.”

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