Halcyon Interiors in Beaconsfield has thrown its official opening party, for the town, in a bid to become a local treasure
As part of its showroom expansion plans, Halcyon Interiors recently opened a studio in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Following its soft launch, earlier this year, it has now held its official opening party, to attract the hearts and minds of the town. And it is already gearing up to its second event, a vintage tea party, helping to raise money for local charities, with macaroon cooking demonstrations from Miele and Ed Kimber – the boy that bakes, winner of The Great British Bake Off. As we find out, creating the feeling of community spirit has been, and continues to be, central to the ethos of the business.
Company spokesperson Graham Robinson tells us about the official launch, which featured a Gaggenau demonstration by Giancarlo Caldesi: “We invited estate agents, architects and we also invited the hotel next door and the local chocolate shop. Normally, you would think ‘what potential customers can we invite because they are going to have a kitchen’? But I think indirect sales are just as important, because it’s a lot closer and smaller environment than it is in London. Reputation is important in London but I think it is more important there.”
Halcyon Interiors was aware of the importance of building up its reputation, with its team of three designers – Ashley Collins, Andrea Mueller and Stephen Parsons – who between them have 76 years’ experience of kitchen design. And the responsibility to the community is further evident, when Halcyon Interiors took two months longer than expected to get the showroom to the standard it desired. Graham explains the £100,000 investment in the Grade II listed showroom, even included the exterior. “It’s a prominent building in the community and it’s about taking responsibility for that building. You’ve got to do it justice.”
Indeed Halcyon Interiors has done the building justice, with a challenging refit of the interior. Wonky floors had to be levelled, it needed to be rewired and plumbed with an air conditioning system. And all of these building upgrades, not to mention kitchens, had to be installed around the original oak beams and sympathetic to the environment. He adds: “It’s very different from [Wigmore Street] and part of the reason we had taken it on was it was very different and taking on the building was a challenge. It would have been easier to find a normal shop, put in a stone floor and put three or four modern kitchens in it. There is a worktop shaped around the beams and it took hours to template that edge.”
Combining visual extremes, Halcyon has created a showroom which combines the extremes of linear lined German kitchen and the rustic environment. This has also enabled the company to create a homely feel to the studio space. Graham continues: “Downstairs is two rooms, effectively, and upstairs is three rooms, it’s like being in someone’s house and they are proper roomsets. It’s got quite a homely feel to it, as well, with wooden floors and carpet on the stairs. It’s quite soft and cosy.” And this homely ambience is echoed in the choice of eclectic accessories, from a chrome antler head on the wall, through to rustic wooden spinning wheel and selection of mismatched glasses and decanters “that look like someone has been collecting them for years”, explains Graham.
Interestingly Graham says consumer tastes are very similar to that of its London customers, even explaining customers will visit the Beaconsfield and London showroom to get a gauge of all styles. Although he confesses: “It’s how you speak to the customers that is slightly different. I think you spend more time with customers there [than in London] but they have got more time.” And it seems that taking time over ordering a kitchen is one of the biggest changes that have happened to Halcyon Interior’s business, as consumers now want to explore all the design options, available to them. “It may be going through all the options to come back to where you started to show what you did initially was right. It’s also a part of making them feel comfortable and that they’ve explored every option but it’s better they explore every option with you and tweak and change it, then it is going to explore another option with somebody else”, explains Graham.
But the time the staff and customer service Halcyon interiors appears to be offering is paying dividends, as the showroom has met financial expectations. “So far [the showroom] has done what they thought it was going to do”, says Graham. It’s a positive story for a showroom that is being led by this successful retailer. Graham concludes: “I think having another showroom at this time shows positive growth at this time and it’s confidence building to have another showroom because we’re about 25% up on this time last year and 25% up on the time before. I think we have the right product and the right approach and we’re stable. Stability is key.”