What should you consider when opening a second showroom?

Al Bruce, director of Olive & Barr, shares what retailers need to consider when planning to open a new showroom

Al Bruce, director of Olive & Barr

Olive & Barr originally hailed from the Cotswolds, establishing our first showroom in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, in 2018. As our needs grew, we decided to move to a more suitable location in Malvern and subsequently a second showroom in south London. Nonetheless, our connection with Gloucestershire remained, knowing its unique clientele resonated deeply with our style.

With established showrooms catering to the South-East and The Midlands, we were keen to venture back into the South-West, knowing there was high demand in Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties. With larger, character-filled properties, there is a need for handcrafted British kitchens that balanced affordability with superior quality and style.

Finding the correct location for a new showroom is crucial. It needs to be accessible, in an area where customers want to spend their time and would willingly travel to. Elkstone Studios provides all this and more. Situated within immaculate grounds, it is set amid sympathetically restored barn conversions.

The abundance of classic Cotswold stone and its charming atmosphere effortlessly lure you into country life.

Selecting a site nestled among a network of successful, kindred businesses held great importance for us. We want to fully immerse Olive & Barr into the fabric of the community, actively engaging and collaborating with local companies.

The structure of the Elkstone Studio building provided us with a unique setting in which to design the displays, creating a more classic feel, differing from our more contemporary London showroom. The 1,000sq ft space allowed us to integrate three fully installed shaker kitchens, a bar area and a boot room – the first in any of our showrooms. With new windows, doors and flooring already in place, overall, the building was ready to move into, although we did decide to remove one of the smaller internal walls, allowing for an open plan, light-flooded room.

The style of our shaker kitchens complements the character of the Cotswold architecture beautifully and we wanted this to be apparent in our showroom, creating a home-from-home feel, a place where you can kick off your muddy boots after a long walk in the countryside and relax.

Appointing a dedicated and experienced manager is essential to the success of any new showroom. Having previously worked with Dorothy Scott Murray, she has a long history of delivering exceptional kitchen designs along with a high level of customer service. Growing up in Gloucestershire, she understands the local demographic and the importance of offering a truly bespoke service. Along with one other full-time designer and a showroom host, they form a team with experience and a wealth of local knowledge.

Conducting market research and engaging with local press are crucial steps. It’s imperative that customers are aware of your presence, location, and the services you provide. We’ve dedicated significant effort and resources in establishing Olive & Barr in the region and have actively communicated with the regional press and promoted the opening on social media platforms.

It’s always essential to consider viability. After all, to warrant the investment, it’s important it is successful from the start. In the planning stages, we took time to consider the location and local demand. Our market research was largely based on previous experience in the area, researching the local demographic and our potential new customer base and seeing how competitors performed locally.

Elkstone Studios has provided us with a location that will really deliver both aesthetically and geographically. It will enable our customers in the South-West to enjoy a rural showroom location covering the Cotswolds and beyond, filling in the gap between our London and Malvern showrooms.

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