Retailer profile: RidgeWey

Winner of our new kitchen retailer of the year award, Stuart Luckman, owner of RidgeWey, met with George Dean to explain the unique challenges involved in getting a luxury retail business off to a running start

Although he can proudly call himself the country’s best and brightest new kitchen retailer – at least, until the kbbreview Retail & Design Awards 2025 – Stuart Luckman is no stranger to the KBB industry. He tells me, almost incredulously: “This will be my 24th year designing kitchens and interiors.”

Having left university with a degree in interior design, Luckman has always worked at the premium end of the industry. His past includes several positions in London’s West End showrooms, including almost a decade spent in Knightsbridge selling Poggenpohl. But several years ago, he left the industry to change careers.

“I’d been doing it for a long time and fancied a break, so I went to work for a training company outside of the sector. I’d had a second kid, and I had some notion of working less hours and having long weekends. 

An eye-catching display at the front of the showroom

“After just a couple of years, I found that I really missed designing. When you’ve been doing it for as long as I have, you can really miss being part of that process.”

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and Luckman’s desire to return to retail was kicked up a notch when he bought a house in need of a new kitchen. He admits: “People have joked that I only came back to the industry because I couldn’t bear to go to another retailer!”

Combining the business experience he gained outside the sector with his decades of luxury retail knowledge, opening RidgeWey seemed like the natural step to pull all the threads of his career together. 

“For my first project, I was essentially ordering a kitchen from myself,” he recalls, “that was a really great way of reminding me how the retail process works again.”

Projecting premium

At around 1,800 sq ft, the showroom space is comfortably roomy, but it houses very few physical displays. In terms of kitchens, there are only five – admittedly sizeable – displays, along with a smattering of dining and seating areas, a fabric sample corner and a walk-in wine storage room. 

According to Luckman, this minimalist effect is all part of a carefully crafted strategy. He imparts: “You want your showroom to be your showcase, and your customers to see the latest and greatest. You don’t want to fill it up with tiny displays showing them every little thing you can do – you need to communicate that you can do anything, without actually telling them.”

It’s an effect that definitely works, with the overarching atmosphere being a showroom space of curated luxury ideas. Siemens, Gaggenau, Bora, Miele and Sub-Zero & Wolf appliances are the finishing touches to the Siematic displays, each of which effortlessly projects an image of premium opulence. The effect is amplified further by a wide panoramic window at the front of the store, inviting onlookers to sneak a peek inside.

Luckman says that although customers are welcomed with open arms, RidgeWey works hard to curate its image to attract the right client. 

Luckman and the rest of the RidgeWey team at this year’s kbbreview Awards

“At this end of the market, customers might not see the end of their project for six, nine or even 18 months, so you need to reassure them that you know what you’re doing. It’s a leap of faith from their point of view, and you need to have the right ele–ments to associate a feeling of luxury with your business.”

It’s clear that Luckman absolutely loves working in the premium sector, and he’s got his fair share of stories about it too. He recalls: “When I worked in Knightsbridge, a guy came in with a literal blank cheque, and said, ‘can you fill it in for me?’. That’s just the kind of wacky world we live in.”

Strategic thinking

He explains that a unique aspect of luxury retail is knowing how to be discerning about your clients. Luckman says: “Absolutely everyone’s had a kitchen, so a lot of customers presume they know what they’re talking about right from the get-go. It’s like how living in a house doesn’t automatically make you an architect. Everyone walks in here thinking they already know what they want.

“Some people try to seem tough, saying ‘Oh, I don’t like this that you’ve got’, trying to offend me. That’s fine. But you’ve got to be grown-up enough to say ‘this just isn’t for you’. When people try and impress you by saying they don’t have a budget, they very quickly discover they do when you quote them for a £100k kitchen.

“We also get people who just want a shaker kitchen with a marble top, which isn’t necessarily us either, and we tell them to try somewhere like  Clive Christian ins–tead. You’ve got to be good enough at what you do, and brave enough to tell people what you won’t do either.”

Another thing that sets RidgeWey apart from other studios is that it also undertakes full-scope interior projects. “We wanted to be more than just another kitchen retailer,” Luckman says, “and that opens us up to things like dining tables, bar cabinets, and console tables. If a customer wants a lamp, or a specific chair, we’ll help them design the fabric on the back.”

He also explains that the interiors offering works as a great way to get a foot in the door with luxury clients who might not be in the market for a complete kitchen just yet. 

He says: “If they’ve got a home cinema and want a bar at the back – maybe just a drinks cabinet, combi microwave and a dishwasher –  they’re still kitchen products. And if you can afford a private cinema in your house, you’ve probably got enough for a new kitchen at some point down the line.”

Still, luxury clients can be found in every town in the country. So why did Luckman open a new showroom in Weybridge, when his entire retail career until this point has been in high-end London showrooms? 

He explains: “I wanted a location that would be more of a destination, instead of necessarily just on the high street. No one pops to their high-street Boots and thinks “actually, maybe I’ll stop to pick up a kitchen on my way home”. Along here, we’re with the
hair salons, fashion boutiques, art galleries and estate agents. It’s a service area. You come here for a purpose, not just to pop through.

“Those showrooms on Wigmore Street get loads of footfall, but they’re all people who have been to all the others, and they can become almost callous. Also, it’s hard for any retailer to compete with the flashy supplier experience centres around the corner.”

I’m interested to hear what Luckman’s learned going from showroom employee to showroom owner. He thinks it’s been a great opportunity to right any wrongs he’s seen in other showrooms he’s worked at. He explains: “If you have your own studio, you might as well write your own rulebook. Anything that’s bugged you, or even anything that you thought worked really well, you can have that.”

An interesting example is the showroom’s slightly unorthodox opening hours. Most days, the showroom doesn’t open for business until 10am, and it closes its doors at around 4:30pm – although the team do open later for appointments.

According to Luckman, this gives his team the ability to be versatile, but also caters to the lifestyle of his clients. He says, “I can visit project sites and still be here before the doors open. Plus, no one with proper cash goes to buy a kitchen before that time anyway. They’ve done their yoga class, seen their personal trainer, dropped their kids off at private school, and only then will they think about coming in. We’re also open for appointments at other times. If you want to rock up at 9:30pm, then I’ll still open up for you.”

A historic moment

Despite the offbeat operating hours, Luckman and the team pride themselves on their tight schedule. “We’re a small team, but you’ll never see us being out on site with a ‘closed’ sign in the window. Someone needs to be there.”

The showroom table designed by RidgeWey

In the business’ history, there has only been a single time the team weren’t actually at the showroom during opening hours, and that was for their big win at this year’s kbbreview Awards. With a (very deserved) sense of pride, Luckman says: “That was the only time I ever put a sign up, and that was to tell people that we were up for a national award. It’s a team achievement – we didn’t want to leave anyone behind.”

Following RidgeWey’s win, Luckman shows me the award display area the team have created, staged in the pantry of a kitchen display. He jokingly tells me that the bright and floral award is the one slightly discordant element in the whole space. Ever the detail-oriented designer, he’s made it work by also displaying a team photo in a gold frame, cleverly matched with the kitchen display’s gold handles. 

Interestingly, for the showroom’s opening last May, the team decided to forgo a public opening ceremony. 

Luckman recalls: “As a luxury showroom, why would clients come to a big opening? Unless you need a kitchen, it’s not on your radar. Also, if you’ve got luxury items, you don’t necessarily want 50 people walking around knocking things over, or putting marks on the beautiful veneers. I didn’t see the value in it.”

Following its successful first year, Luckman and his team don’t plan to rest on their laurels, but he humbly tells me that his main goal is to continue completing projects that have been in the pipeline.

“The days of people making decisions in weeks is gone – it’s now months. We’re fortunate that we’ve quoted for a number of projects, and now they’re coming through.

“Obviously, the bigger the property, the longer the build. So it’ll be great to see those come to fruition over the next year.”

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