Retail Kitchens – Have I Seen You Before???
August 21, 2011
Retail Kitchens – Have You Seen It All Before?
OK this article is all about who is who and what it all means. Retail kitchens can be a little like car firms, Everybody knows that VW Group own Audi, Skoda, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Seat, Bentley, Scania. Ford have Lincoln brand, small stake in Mazda and Aston Martin. Tata own Jaguar and Landrover etc etc…kitchen nightmares begin because people do not understand who is who so this article covers this in detail so you can avoid kitchen nightmares when looking at retail kitchens
Retail Kitchen – From Mark Wilkinson to MFI (As Was)
So what about retail kitchens? From Mark Wilkinson to MFI. That’s right there is something for those at the luxury end of the market too!!! and many other kitchen retailers uk. Do you know who owns who and who is really independent?? Well before many larger names started shutting and disappearing there were and still are a number of interesting facts. For example Howdens used to own MFI before it sold the fledgling company for a pound. Howdens were the manufacturer and effectively the two companies were the same. So what was the difference? NONE really apart from the name? Howdens have now begun to improve there specification of their kitchen. We also know MFI is defunct, or is it? I am sure it is now re launched as MFI direct anyhow that aside. Howdens is a common haunt of trades and builders.
Either that or the alternative other well known retail kitchens option is Magnet which is owned by Nobia. Interestingly enough Nobia is a little like VW. You may be surprised to learn what they do own, for example Poggenpohl a perceived luxury retail kitchens brand is owned by Nobia. However the difference with VW stops here. The foundations which are critically important to a good kitchen as discussed in Are You Getting Solid Foundations? are the same across ALL the brands. Nobia is the central manufacturer which means irrelevant of what you think you are getting, it is the same. The only difference is the price and perhaps if you are lucky a couple of the doors. there are many kitchen nightmare stories about kitchen retailers uk if you just do some basic homework on the internet.
Retail Kitchens – The Luxury End
Stop the press! Did you know that Mark Wilkinson went in to liquidation? of course that brand was not going to disappear in to the ether. But who do you think bought the name and brand? Smallbone of course, that’s right even at the luxury end all is not what it seems. So next time anyone is thinking of parting with money for a kitchen ask are you really getting what you think? What is it you are really after?
Here is something interesting, DID YOU KNOW that Sainsburys Homebase used Magnet or should I say Nobia carcasses for their retail kitchens, they are even using the same system to price the kitchen. If in doubt ask for copies of the contracts to be printed, then simply compare them next to each other, they are the same. The two directors of the two companies got together and decided it would be a good idea. So what is the difference? Is that a choice?
The news of the collapse of Moben in 2011 was caused by the parent company Homeform going in to administration. They also owned Dolphin Bathrooms, Sharps Bedrooms which I see has been resurrected and Kitchens Direct. Here is another example of a parent company disappearing and taking many out with it. Recently Hygena kitchens are back or at least the founder Malcolm Healey is, under the banner of Wren again selling retail kitchens. Hygena is now sold as a brand through Argos and Homebase and no suprise there is the Nobia link…
Then there is B&Q owned by Kingfisher which own Screwfix, both these suppliers offer budget ranges less expensive than each other. Often in B&Q much of the hardware you buy is available at half the price at screwfix. I even recently bought some black silicone for a kitchen worktop in B&Q costing £6. At Screwfix I can get it for £2.20.. What is going on there?? The extra over cost issue that regularly occurs is down to the fact that fitting is not usually included, usually excluding electrics and plastering this is where many of the kitchen nightmares begin especially in the retail kitchens market. I speak from personal experience as a property investor I thought I would explore how B&Q performed and it was not a pleasant experience.
Recently I was surprised by the news of the closure of Yorkshire based Norwood Interiors another kitchen retailer that closed its doors however all was not lost it was bought by The My House Group a couple of days later. But who is The My House Group? is this a case that the idea of buying retail kitchens from a showroom has had its day? are the overheads just too high to make it work? Perhaps you are sick of the risk it is a good job some firm are exploring different ways to allow you to get a superior product for you money.
Retail Kitchens – Appliances
The feeling of Deja Vu does not stop at kitchens, it also appears in some of the things that go in to kitchens for example did you know that Bosch, Siemens, Neff and Gaggeneau are all owned by the BSH group I suppose that is why many of the internal fittings in a Bosch, Siemens, Neff or Gaggeneau appliances are the same if not very similar. If the internals that are visible are similar, perhaps there are other components that are the exactly the same. What of course will differ are the prices. On this occasion please do not mis-interpret the BSH Group make very reputable appliances which is why we use them in our kitchens. What is interesting is the perceived difference between Gaggeneau and Neff when I speak to people
Retail Kitchens – Conclusion
So who is left that is truly independent and can deliver better results than those retail kitchens popping up on TV? As opposed to those that are mind washing thousands of people into parting with thousands of pounds? Do you really know who your retail kitchens are coming from?? Probably not, as no-one I have spoken to seems to be aware of this.
The illusion of choice is a misguided one and many people have fallen for it when choosing retail kitchens. People think they are shopping around and ultimately the only person to gain is the large parent company who owns the retail kitchens you are visiting. Is there an alternative solution?? there is but you have to do your research, ask the right questions and wake up to the fact that most companies pretending there is a choice.
What are the other options? smaller firms, well ask if they make the doors or not, can they make a carcasss in any shape or finish? There are a limited number of door suppliers PWS, Browns (A Favorite of the Vinyl Club), Multiwood and a few others. It is enough to make you dizzy and it is rife with people who have worked for each other no wonder it is so incestuous.
I have to stop for now as I am feeling dizzy… I will add more when my head stops spinning. I was aware of this already but would never have expected you to be aware of it, how would you know? Well now you do the choice is yours, but at least you can make that choice without being mislead when you are looking for retail kitchens.
What is next?
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