Sachsenküchen’s selective strategy

Sachsenküchen may be a relatively new name in the UK, but it hopes its unique model will help it become a big success in this market. Head of export, Ingo Joram, tells George Dean what makes the UK market so lucrative.

Instead of looking to onboard as many retailers as possible in its first few years in the UK, Sachsenküchen has a particularly unique strategy – it would rather do business with just a small, dedicated group of retailers that properly understand its products. 

“We have high-end studios run by skilled people, and they know the business, they have connections, and they can properly handle our product,” explains Sachsenküchen head of export, Ingo Joram. “That’s our ideal partner – someone who doesn’t care about price, but about the product and its quality.” 

Despite achieving an average global turnover of €58 million (£49,571m) in the last year alone, to UK retailers, Sachsenküchen still seems like a relatively new brand, although it has a long and storied history.

Ingo Joram, head of export, Sachsenküchen

First founded in Germany as a brickmaking business in the 1800s, Sachsenküchen switched to kitchen manufacturing after the First World War. It was seen as an industry trend-setter in the inter-war period, releasing new kitchens on a yearly basis.

However, the company was considerably less fortunate after the Second World War. Production was slow due to a lack of available resources, and like many German businesses, Sachsenküchen became state-owned in the 1950s before being merged into other companies. It wasn’t until the 90s that the brand became truly autonomous again.

Sachsenküchen entered the UK market just over a year ago, in March 2023, and UK retailers can now access the brand’s kitchens through the distribution agency Euromobel.

Joram explains: “We’ve been able to access that market by building a relationship with Euromobel. Bodie [Kelay] is very experienced in the UK market, which is obviously reassuring to us as a company.”

According to Joram, Sachsenküchen’s UK market presence is still in its early days, but momentum for the brand is certainly growing. He believes the UK will become a key market in time, primarily due to the unique buying habits of UK consumers.

“In the UK, the attitude of the people and consumers is completely different to other European markets,” he explains. “In many other countries, someone might think, ‘Oh I saw a nice kitchen in my neighbour’s house and I want the same thing’. 

Sachsenküchen’s HQ in Obercarsdorf, Germany
Sachsenküchen’s HQ in Obercarsdorf, Germany.

“In the UK, it’s – ‘Oh my neighbour has this kitchen, I want something completely different to be unique’. People in the UK seem happy if they have something special, and that’s why we think it has potential to become a key market for us.”

Joram is optimistic, yet realistic, about the brand’s growth on English soil. “We always try to introduce products that match the demands of the market, and we know it always takes time to develop in a specific market, so we know that nothing will happen overnight,” he says, “That’s why we’re ready to be patient and do our homework, and then we’ll try to grow over the next five years or so.”

Unique solutions

With sustainability at the forefront of the industry’s agenda, every one of Sachsenküchen’s kitchens are made to order at its HQ in Obercarsdorf, near Dresden. The company estimates it produces around 18,000 kitchens each year, with each one being custom-made for a consumer who has already specified the exact dimensions required.

Such a bespoke approach allows for a great deal of customisation. It’s also possible for customers to use Sachsenküchen’s kitchen products to furnish spaces such as media rooms, living rooms or offices, as the furniture can be tailored to fit bespoke measurements.

German design is famed for its precision, and that’s particularly evident in Sachsenküchen’s factory. Cabinet fronts are laser cut using the latest technology, and drawers and doors are automatically fitted with name-brand hardware.

Sachsenküchen’s robots scan barcodes on each component
Sachsenküchen’s robots scan barcodes on each component.

Entire kitchen orders are tracked around the factory by a series of barcode stickers on each component. High-tech production machines are programmed to read each sticker, and then either cut, sort or package the materials at different stages.

The company’s managing director, Elko Beeg, explains: “In this factory, we work with data. In fact, our whole production line revolves around data. We’re very independent with our process and our machines know what they have to do by scanning these barcode stickers.”

The entire production process is undertaken by machines, but overseen and signed off at key stages by humans. In this way, Sachsenküchen is able to retain its personal touch, while also being able to ensure mechanical efficiency and accuracy.

Beeg explains that implementing this robust robotic production line is a relatively new approach for the business. “The change in production is probably the biggest change we’ve had in the last few years,” he says, “We’re very proud of it, but three years ago, we did things completely differently. This has opened up so many new possibilities for us.”

With a new and exciting production ethos, Sachsenkuchen is ready to take on equally new and exciting markets. “Working with Euromobel has given us the opportunity to get started in the UK,” Joram says, “The Sachsen brand isn’t that famous in that market yet, but we’re working on that!

That’s our ideal partner – someone who doesn’t care about price, but about the product and its quality.

Ingo Joram, head of export, Sachsenküchen

“We’re very open about our flexibility, and that’s exactly what we want people to know about, because we want to be different. We have loads of competitors who use units for the middle segment of the market, but with Sachsen you are able to give the customer more, and this is exactly our target – to be a brand that’s different from the others.”

Reputation building

Sachsenküchen is currently available to UK consumers through a select group of retailers. Anecdotally, comments from these studio owners about Sachsenküchen and its service sound overwhelmingly positive – with many emphasising that they’re fond of the company’s personable approach to their business. 

According to these retailers, the company keeps them informed and in-the-loop about new products and industry updates, and takes a genuine interest in helping them grow their own businesses.

Euromobel’s MD Bodie Kelay says he’s happier working with an exclusive group instead of the entire wider market. “It’s a group of studios that recognised the gaps in the market,” he says, “They’re exactly the right calibre, with great reputations and they’re all chasing the same direction. It’s all about giving those dealers what they perhaps haven’t yet realised
they need.”

Planned growth

With the economic unrest in the UK over the past few years, it may have been a more tumultous time than expected for a market launch, but just like its precise production process, this was anticipated by Sachsenküchen in advance. 

Sachsenküchen furnishings can also be used for bathrooms, bedrooms and offices.

When asked about how the brand’s launch has gone, Joram said: “We are not unhappy with our progress because we knew what was coming up after two good years and the crisis of Covid. We’ve been prepared for a challenging year for some time.

“Currently, we’re growing in a positive direction. When you are starting out, it’s not difficult because you can be flexible, but we have targets to meet for this year and we’re very much planning for this challenging time to continue, so we’ve taken that into our thoughts.”

Entering the UK market has undoubtedly been a learning experience. When asked about the best thing about the UK market sector, Joram thinks it’s the fact that UK consumers see the value in spending money on their living spaces.

“Their home – and specifically, having a comfortable home – is very important to them. They like to cook, they like to eat, they like to be social, and they’re happy to invest in a kitchen to do that.”

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Like most European exporters to the UK, a new challenge in recent years is the red tape that now surrounds our shores following Brexit. By Joram’s admission, Brexit has made trading more difficult for continental suppliers than before. 

It seems that people in the UK are happy if they have something special.

Ingo Joram, head of export, Sachsenküchen

“In my opinion, the transition has made it quite difficult. The customs and declarations are very time-consuming, and it wastes a lot of everyone’s time.”

However, such challenges are clearly worth the hassle if the brand is to have a successful future in the UK market. Joram is optimistic about its future: “UK consumers like furniture, they like cosy homes, they spend money on the kitchen, they like to cook, they like to socialise in the kitchen. The kitchen is the new hub for socialising. 

“I think we can be very successful there, because we are the right partner in a very interesting market.”

Home > Indepth > Sachsenküchen’s selective strategy