Mid-to-upmarket kitchen retailer Harvey Jones Kitchens says it is seeing the economic recovery take hold as more mortgages are approved.
The retailer is planning to launch 60 new stores in some of the UK’s most affluent areas to bring its UK portfolio to 90.
Non-executive chairman, Geoff Brady told Retail Gazette that he is not seeing a regional difference in the UK and says new stores in central Birmingham and Manchester are possibilities, while eight stores will open inside the M25.
Harvey Jones Kitchens has been producing and selling high-end hand made kitchens for over 30 years and is a strong believer in the importance of the high street.
HJK has an affluent client base in place – a typical kitchen costs around £30k – so how does it market its product to consumers?
“We’re still in traditional glossy print magazines and word of mouth is still quite strong from us,” says Brady. “There’s also noise on Mumsnet.”
In terms of stores, Brady says “it wouldn’t be appropriate” to have a flagship, adding that a lot of flagships are loss making. So what does the retailer differentiate itself from other kitchen retailers?
“There’s not one specific thing – it’s the cradle-to-grave experience that we offer. It’s an end to end process; we spend 130 man hours on each kitchen. There are a lot of imitators out there, but they’re made in China,” he says.
According to a home report from Kingfisher, more than two thirds of Europeans (68 per cent) are making home improvement changes such as installing a new kitchen and painting and decorating to increase the value of their home. And Homebase owner Home Retail Group saw like-for-like sales rise 7.9 per cent at Homebase and 4.9 per cent at Argos as demand for big ticket items drove trade.
High ticket items have gone through a tough time over the last few years – in 2012 just one out of ten people were planning to improve their home.
He says that it has “seen a shift” in interest from Arab and Chinese buyers in the UK in its premium kitchens.
“We’re now seeing a fairly strong year ahead, we are seeing the recovery,” he concluded.
Find out more: Harvey Jones Kitchens