Retailer profile: Luck & Fuller

It’s been almost two years since Luck & Fuller won the kbbreview New Bathroom Retailer of the Year award, so George Dean caught up with owner Kenneth Luck to see what’s changed since his big win, and what he’s learned along the way

Kenneth Luck, owner of Luck & Fuller

One of the most surprising things about Luck & Fuller is that despite its success, it hasn’t had to do much marketing. It sits proudly next to one of Billericay’s busiest crossroads, and two sides of the showroom have floor-to-ceiling windows, offering near-panoramic views inside. “We’ve got single glazing, so we hear people talk as they walk past,” Kenneth Luck explains, “we hear them saying things like: ‘look at that copper bath – isn’t it lovely?’”

As if to demonstrate his point, for the entirety of kbbreview’s time at Luck & Fuller, it became impossible to ignore the parade of pedestrians who stopped for a look in at the window display, or the drivers gazing in while waiting at the nearby junction.

Formerly a sales rep for a UK supplier, Luck has seen his fair share of showrooms, and one of the things that struck him was their tendency to be over-reliant on all-grey or white colour themes. He’s got a firm belief that “the bathroom industry needs to step its game up a little bit, and we need to really have some fun with colours”.

He wanted the Luck & Fuller showroom not just to show off products, but to serve as a space where customers could get ideas about the potential of their own bathroom spaces. This extends to the business’s ethos too: “The bathrooms we design for customers aren’t necessarily our bathrooms, but they’re supposed to reflect them and their personalities, so they can feel really happy using them,” says Luck, “It’s a space you use multiple times a day, so why not try and make it perfect?”

Inside view

At around 850 sq ft, the showroom is far from the biggest, but it’s cleverly managed to fit in 16 individual display bays, each with their own space to breathe and stand out. Individual displays are also “room-sized” to match common bathroom configurations. For example, customers can see a classical bathroom the size of a traditional WC, or a gothic-inspired space the size of a family bathroom.

Most of the displays also have feature walls to show how colour can be used in dramatic or subtle ways. Luck is keen to point out the nook at that back of the showroom that serves as a tile display area. Like the rest of the studio, this space is completely bursting with colour, and is presided over by Luck & Fuller’s interior designer, Charlotte.

In terms of suppliers, it aims to offer a selection of products at different price points. Laufen, Dansani and Catalano products make up most of the furniture in the showroom, with a few specialised products from Vanity Hall, BC Designs and Thomas Crapper included too. In terms of brassware, Luck & Fuller mostly retails Gessi, Armera, JTP and Vado.

The idea for Luck & Fuller came during perhaps the single most frightening business era in recent memory: the dreaded Covid lockdowns. Given the economic uncertainty that was rife at the time, Luck didn’t want to be beholden to another employer, so decided to go into business for himself – with his father-in-law as his business partner.

Humble beginnings

The choice was primarily driven by a love of the bathroom products he’d known throughout his career. Another stroke of luck was the fact that there appeared to be a gap in the market for a bathroom retailer in Billericay. This – combined with the showroom’s extremely visible location – created a perfect storm. “We actually had customers queueing outside the door from day one,” Luck explains. “By the time we opened, we were booked up for three months, which was great. That quickly changed to six, and then to nine.”

One of the things that Luck mentioned in his 2022 awards entry was a desire to grow both the business and its team. “I think back then, we had two installation teams, and it was just me in here.

“Now, we’ve got an accounts manager, an interior designer, and a junior designer starting in the next few weeks as an apprentice. My business partner was fitting, but now he’s pulled away to more of a project manager role. We’ve grown three times over since we started.”

As a finishing touch, Luck & Fuller even has a dedicated cleaning team that visits finished projects to tidy up halls, stairs, landings, and bedrooms.

The perfect market

So, for such a design-led showroom, who is Luck & Fuller’s rough target demographic? “We’ve done supply and fit for people in their 20s with beautiful homes. We do also have a lot of customers in their 40s, who usually have around four-bedroom homes. We don’t really have a demographic customer – it’s all down to budget.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, the average house price in Britain this year is around £304,000, but in Billericay, average house prices are more in the realm of £585,000, so residents are among those who can likely afford a new bathroom or two in the current economy. Still, “there’s only so many bathrooms in Billericay”, Luck says. “We haven’t pushed further afield just yet, although I’d like to do that in the next six months or so. We’re keen to grow steadily without overstretching ourselves.”

Due to the on-trend look of the showroom, as well as the affluent local area, Luck says that very few of its customers come in for a single supply product. “We just listen to what’s important to people – either style, quality, budget or design, and we hone in on what they’re after.”

Luck estimates that the team has completed around 200 bathrooms, most of which are in the area of around £15,000 to £25,000. “We have done the odd plain grey or white,” he explains, “but that’s not really our personality as designers.”

It’s easy to think that, true to name, the business has just been extremely lucky. However, the real secret to Luck & Fuller’s success lies in its willingness to change, adapt, and learn as it goes.

Learning curve

Luck candidly admits that he’s probably made a lot of mistakes along the way: “Where we are now is version three or four. We had bathroom displays for £20,000 and we had displays for £2,000 with everything in between. We learnt very quickly our customers want better quality, designs that are a little more out there, and products that are a bit more weird and wonderful.”

Anyone who’s walked past the showroom will have noticed the little touches throughout the space that help keep up with the seasons. Upon entering, visitors are greeted by an iconic Thomas Crapper display, which cleverly incorporates an eye-grabbing living wall. Although the Thomas Crapper is a showroom mainstay, the feature wall changes on a regular basis. “In the spring we have purples and whites, and right now, we have a lot more autumnal colours.”

Luck & Fuller’s front window display has become a local landmark thanks to its bright pink bath, but this is even more true around Christmas time, where it’s adorned with larger-than-life baubles piled high in the bathtub.

Despite its successes, it still feels like there’s more on the horizon for Luck & Fuller. “I do honestly believe that if you’re not moving forwards, you go backwards,” Luck muses. “I think there’s a big market sector we don’t really look at. Supply and fit between £15,000 and £25,000 is our wheelhouse, and we’re comfortable there, but we really don’t want to become blinkered.”

To finish, what’s the biggest lesson that the team have learned along the way? It’s clearly something he’s thought about at length before, so Luck doesn’t miss a beat before responding: “We may not be the biggest showroom, but I’ve learnt that the devil is in the detail, and it’s all about how you present yourself that really matters.”

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