Small and perfectly formed

30 Jan, 14

UrNu Kitchens is a concession in Bathstore, as Charlotte Blackburn finds out

Over a year in the planning stage, UrNu Kitchens opened its figurative doors in Peterborough’s Bathstore in November. The kitchen concession, which is owned by Stuart Hendry and run with the assistance of his wife Eleanor, features Gallery by Symphony furniture, together with Caple appliances. And while only occupying only a small area of the Bathstore, it still offers a variety of kitchen options.

Piggy-back on national

Stuart has dipped in and out of kitchens and bathrooms for 12 years, mainly focused in online dealings, but was recently based in a showroom in nearby Thorney until the opportunity with Bathstore arose. The association began due to Stuart’s friendship with Peterborough Bathstore franchise owner Peter Copestake: “We’ve been friends for years and we thought it could work to have a kitchen concession in the Peterborough store, so we spoke to the people at Bathstore and they were intrigued.”

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Stuart acknowledges that this is a somewhat unusual set-up, an independent kitchen showroom as a concession in a national bathroom retailer, adding: “We have to remind people that we are a separate company, as they tend to come in and say ‘ooooh, I didn’t know Bathstore did kitchens’ but the association works well for us.” He continues: “ It means many of these customers will remember us, as they will associate us with Bathstore and will want to continue the good service they receive. We’ve had people come in and buy a few bits from Bathstore and then come back to us for a kitchen.”

There are other advantages offered by the relationship with Bathstore, too, namely the company’s extensive advertising and sale promotions. Stuart says: “Well obviously that is a great advantage for us. Bathstore sales are advertised everywhere and so we tend to piggyback onto that. We have only done a little bit of local advertising ourselves, in shopping centres, so to have the pull of the huge Bathstore Sale campaign, we are very lucky.”

With a constant footfall through the showroom due to the pull of Bathstore for customers, the scope for sales is evident. Stuart explains: “We incentivise the price for people who are loyal to both Bathstore and UrNu Kitchens; it benefits the customer financially to shop here for both kitchen and bathroom products.” 

He also details the importance of national industry accreditations for customers: “We have a dedicated team of fitters who are all certified with the iKBBI (Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installers) and for the customer it is important to have some reassurances when making a large purchase such as a kitchen. For us there is the added pressure of being associated with this national company, we must deliver good quality on our services and the accreditation confirms our capabilities.”

Talking trade shows

With kbb Birmingham fast approaching, Stuart details how significant industry shows have been to his business: “I’ve been going to trade shows for years and now they are more important than ever. They enable us to see what is out there and give us the opportunity to find something different for our customers.” In fact, he picked his suppliers from seeing them at trade shows: “We chose Caple as our main appliance supplier because we spoke to them at kbb Birmingham. I think it is easy for companies to overlook us and not bother because they think we are small, but Caple wanted to offer as much help and assistance as possible and wanted to move forward with us. That is why we chose them.”

Growing consumer confidence

While the recession hit the kbb industry hard, UrNu Kitchens seems to have emerged at the right time as Stuart explains: “We have been virtually recession-proof. We have kept our head above the water and everything is paid for.” And Stuart’s positivity is mirrored by his customers too: “We are optimistic as to what the future holds; the New Year has seen a lot of customers come in, who have decided this is the year they will invest in a new kitchen. We are already seeing the benefits of increased consumer confidence.” He concludes: “The challenge is about where to go next. Ideally that is to expand, both in gaining more customers, and more showroom space in Bathstore.”