Owners of Elmore Kitchens Ben and Vicky Elmore explain how the move from a franchise enabled them to create a more diverse offer for its customers
Formerly an In-toto showroom, Elmore Kitchens in Bath decided to go it alone two years’ ago following the collapse of the franchise’s parent company.
It posed the biggest challenge for the business, which not only had to find new suppliers but to refit all the displays of its showroom while still keeping the doors open.
Husband and wife team Ben & Vicky Elmore commented: “Co-ordinating the removal of ex-displays and the installation of new displays, whilst still designing and installing customer kitchens kept us on our toes!”
But they haven’t looked back, as Ben & Vicky exclaim: “Becoming an independent business has enabled us to choose our own suppliers and create a more diverse offering for our customers.”
They expand on the point: “It enables us to make sure the companies we work with offer the latest technology, keep up with market trends and constantly evaluate their business to ensure they are meeting our market’s needs.
“We personally ensure we are up-to-date with product training, new product releases and regularly review our processes.”
It joined buying group MHK to supply its kitchen furniture and has recently partnered with Samsung to offer its major domestic appliances.
Ben & Vicky continue: “Whilst we were aware of Samsung, we really first took notice when we saw them at the trade show kbbBirmingham in March last year.
“We were impressed with the quality and innovative ideas we saw on display, but the level of communication, service and attention Samsung offers as a company really sealed the deal for us.”
When asked what the partnership with Samsung means to the company, Ben & Vicky elaborate: “They actively seek our opinions, and we feel our ideas are listened to. Samsung is not about following the market, they want to be a market leader and this appeals to our vision for our own business – albeit on a much smaller scale!
“We also want to work with suppliers who not only deliver a great product but are also able to continue to support customers with great after-sales customer service.”
The pair report, despite the size of the Samsung brand, “everyone is so down to earth and approachable. Nothing seems to be too much trouble.”
In fact, such has been the success of the relationship between Samsung and Elmore, Ben & Vicky have decided to increase the presence of the brand in the showroom.
“Initially we were adding Samsung as an addition to our offering. We are now looking to increase Samsung’s presence in our showroom because we feel that they offer a great quality product which is backed up by a 5-year parts and labour warranty on the products we sell.
“We regularly look to update our displays and will always choose a brand that best fits the need. However we’ve found the ongoing innovation and product development from Samsung means it’s often our first choice.”
And Ben and Vicky point out what is important to them when choosing suppliers for their showroom, commenting: “Some suppliers try to make demands on how much presence they have in our kitchen studio and what we can or cannot sell depending on which models we have in the showroom.
“As an independent retailer we want to work with companies that believe in their offering and quality of product and don’t need to make any demands of us.”
Elmore Kitchens supplies and installs kitchen across the Wiltshire and Somerset areas, covering Bristol, Chippenham, Swindon and Bruton.
It works with a variety of customers from retired couples and professionals, through to builders and families, with a budget starting from around £18,000.
And the company has “invested heavily in software systems we use so that we can create realistic 3D-graphics to help customers visualise their kitchens more easily.”
And although having traded for seven years, Elmore Kitchens does not rely on customer recommendations alone, but also uses technology to encourage people into their store.
“We have built a great website which gives customers some background to our business, information about the manufacturers we use, information on worktops, appliances, etc.
“Customers can also find us on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We regularly post on these accounts with new product and range launches and design inspiration.”
Concentrating on cooking
Despite the uncertain trading climate, Ben & Vicky believe the kitchen retail business can truly capitalise on the growing trend for cooking.
They comment: “Over the coming years we want to continue to deliver great kitchen designs that are practical, functional and stylish so people really enjoy spending time in the heart of the home and reignite, or find, their love for cooking!
“As appliances get better and offer more choice such as steaming and sous vide people really can improve the quality of food cooked and we’ve seen an increasing appetite (no pun intended) from our customers too.
“They want to have the best tools at their fingertips to enable them to be the best home chef as possible, so we can really tap in to that trend.”
Certainly, the move from franchise to true independent seems to have benefited Elmore Kitchens.
And having faced its biggest challenge, and now partnering with new suppliers, the path to success will hopefully run more smoothly.