The Kitchen Depot | Creating business opportunities with a franchise

Retail franchise The Kitchen Depot has opened its 20th showroom in its 20th year of trading. Franchise director Graham Bucktrout about its plans for growth

30 Jan, 24

Kitchen retail franchise The Kitchen Depot has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and opened its 20th showroom. We talk to franchise director Graham Bucktrout about its plans for growth and benefits for prospective entrepreneurs

The Kitchen Depot | Creating a franchise community

Originally established as an independent retailer in Shropshire in 2003 by husband and wife team Jim and Grace McCay, family values have always been at the core of The Kitchen Depot.

Having taken the steps to open its own manufacturing facility, the company then built a franchise operation based upon the same ideals.

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Now, celebrating its 20th anniversary of trading, The Kitchen Depot has opened its 20th showroom in Sutton Coldfield, in the county next door to where the story started.

Most recently, the business has appointed franchise director Graham Bucktrout for its next stage of growth.

Starting out

Starting out in Telford, with a kitchen showroom serving the mid-market, Jim and Grace McCay opened studios in Shrewsbury and Hillington, Glasgow.

The family relocated to its ancestral home of Scotland and established a HQ and showroom in Glasgow,

Market changes during the recession of 2008, which saw the collapse of well-known KBB companies, encouraged the company to control its own destiny.

So The Kitchen Depot established manufacturing facilities at its Glasgow premises to service all four of its showrooms and sought to start a franchise business to provide volume for its factory.

Now the  business is operated by the second generation of the family.

Many family members and loyal, experienced individuals still hold key positions within in the business. Jim and Grace’s son Mark McCay has been managing director for over five years, while operations director Diane Jaconelli will be celebrating her 15th year with the business in 2024.

Many of the key individuals throughout the business have worked their way through the business giving our leadership team a real understanding of both the retail and KBB industry.

Adding to the family is franchise director Graham Bucktrout and the business is now ready to talk to the market to expand its network.

Plans for growth

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of The Kitchen Depot showrooms are located in Scotland but reach as far down the British Isles as Hemel Hempstead.

The Kitchen Depot | Creating a franchise community 1

Graham Bucktrout says they have performed well despite a challenging economy: “We are currently up on the prior year.”

Now he has plans to grow the business to 50 showrooms over the next five years. “My vision is to grow the business to 25 showrooms, ideally, next year. Then the strategy is to grow to 30 and up to 50.”

Seeking to open franchise businesses, which can be served by its distribution centre in Glasgow and Telford, Bucktrout explains there is plenty of room for exploration, pinpointing some key locations: “The M6 corridor is logical and across the M62 so Harrogate, York, Leeds.

“We would like showrooms in Newcastle, Manchester, across into Cheshire, and then in between the West Midlands and North London, as well as South London.”

And he explains people who work for a retailer but want to open their own business would make the ideal franchisee: “We’re looking for people to fit with the values of the business which are trust, integrity, family. That’s really important.

“If they’ve got kitchen knowledge, retail skills, that’s a real advantage, but it is all about the person.”

Family business ethos

What is the advantage of working with this family-based franchise business?

Bucktrout points out: “They’ve been retailing for 20 years. They know the needs and wants of a consumer and that is linked with offering fantastic quality products, with good, better, best options and own-manufactured cabinets”

And he points to the company’s closeness to the market, with a team of 50 employees at its factory, making around 400 cabinets a week for UK homes.

“Every order is individually processed through the factory, as Mr Smith or Mrs Jones’s kitchen.

“Because we don’t batch manufacture, it offers greater flexibility for designers when creating a customer’s kitchen.

“For example, we can offer a cabinet adjustments to standard cabinets and doors such as depth and widths so we really can make a bespoke kitchen at a very affordable price”, adds Bucktrout.

Franchise support

Member of the British Franchise Association, The Kitchen Depot is continually looking to invest and support their franchisees, through product introductions, business acumen and consumer marketing.

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Bringing his years of experience in the KBB industry to the business, spanning manufacturing and distribution, Bucktrout is at the heart of driving the franchise operation.

“My role is to engage with potential new franchisees. I help them look at how to raise funding, create balance sheets and understand cash flows because they need that information to present to banks.

“We help them on their journey, it’s as simple as that.”

The Kitchen Depot then helps franchisees with their showroom location and fit out, gives them exclusivity around an agreed location and provides training through its inhouse team and Simon Acres Training.

“Franchises get the support of the Kitchen Depot but we create community and encourage franchisees to talk to each other about their experiences”, Bucktrout adds.

On top of that, The Kitchen Depot has a consumer marketing campaign, which includes radio advertising, website and social media.

“We have a strong and consistent brand presence, which is all focused on driving enquires back to showrooms.

“There is also a variety of assets for use by franchisees, so they can do their own localised activity, promote themselves, and hit the ground running.

“Whereas if you were to make the leap to set up your own business, you don’t have that network. So that’s where a franchise is really exciting and powerful”, exclaims Bucktrout.

Positive economy

And he says now is the right time to open a new business: “I think setting a business up in a compressed environment, teaches you to run a really lean and fit business.

So when the market does release and come back, you’ve installed those values in your business.”

He is equally positive about future kitchen retail sales, explaining: “The economy is compressed – there’s no doubt about that – but we trade in a massive marketplace. Inflation is coming down.

“The Bank of England base rate is now stabilised, which will have a positive impact on mortgages and lending, and if you then look at consumer confidence index, that’s going up in the right direction.”

He concludes 2024 will be much improved on the previous 12 months, as he explains: “This is also a General Election estimated, for 2024, which the Government will want to drive positivity into the economy. I think 2024 will be stronger and 2025 and beyond will start to get back to previous levels.”