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Independent Kitchen Company or High Street Chain?

When planning a kitchen renovation, one of the first questions to consider is whether to work with an independent kitchen company or a high-street chain.

In 2022, a report by JKMR revealed independent kitchen retailers accounted for 35.5% of the fitted kitchen market, making them the most popular choice above high street chains such as Howdens, Wren, John Lewis and Wickes. However, this isn’t new, and a study by Which? Magazine in 2017 revealed the same findings.

This guide explains the differences between independent kitchen showrooms and high-street kitchen retailers and why an independent kitchen designer is the best choice for your project.

 

7 Reasons to Choose An Independent Kitchen Designer over a High Street Chain

The differences between an independent kitchen retailer and national chain aren’t always obvious to those outside the industry. However, the service you receive from your independent kitchen designer will starkly contrast with the experience from a high-street retailer.

The main advantages of choosing a local independent kitchen showroom over a high street chain are:

  1. Personalised & superior service
  2. Expert design from qualified designers
  3. Wider product choice
  4. Higher quality products
  5. Competitive pricing & transparency
  6. Specialist installation for the same or better price
  7. Aftercare for the life of your kitchen

Let’s look at these in more detail.

1. Personalised & Superior Service

Independent kitchen showrooms are smaller than national high-street brands, working more collaboratively with fewer clients and focusing on providing personalised service to each client. Without the benefit of national brand recognition that high street showrooms have, independent showrooms rely heavily on word-of-mouth and positive client reviews to attract future clients. Hence, the team members genuinely care about your experience and want to do everything possible to give you excellent customer service.

High street showrooms focus on volume and scale, so communication with the designer is limited, and there are often multiple contacts throughout the process. On the other hand, independent kitchen designers act as your specialist advisor, working closely throughout your project. You will always have people you can talk to and have consistent contact with for the duration of your project, from your design consultation to site visits to ensure your installation runs smoothly.

2. Expert Design from Qualified Designers

One of the advantages of using an independent kitchen showroom is its superior design expertise. Independent kitchen designers must complete in-depth training over several years and even study at a degree level before taking on projects and clients. This design flair and expertise means that you can achieve your dream kitchen with a real wow factor, with unique touches that make it perfect for you and your family. With a wide breadth of knowledge, nothing is too difficult.

National chains offer more standardised designs and furniture collections that are easier to explain and manufacture. The route to purchase is often fast, accelerated by monthly ‘offers’ and a progressive sales approach.

3. Wider Product Choice

With a greater focus on volume, high street chains offer a more limited choice of products and designs dictated by the brand’s ranges, set styles and dimensions.

However, independent kitchen showrooms offer products from several brands to offer greater variety and design choices. Their independent nature means they provide an impartial service, sourcing and specifying the perfect products for you. Whether you’re looking for ultra-modern or shaker style, modular or handcrafted cabinetry, an independent kitchen designer has the flexibility to make your dream design aspirations a reality. With the flexibility to create made-to-order elements or bespoke manufacturing capabilities, a separate kitchen designer can maximise every inch of available space by opting for customisable cabinets.

4. Higher Quality Products

A kitchen is an investment, and you want your new kitchen to stay looking good for as many years as possible, so you need high-quality products that are durable and won’t need replacing after a couple of years. A kitchen combines many products, including cabinets, appliances, worktops, taps and handles. If products aren’t up to the proper standard, many things can go wrong, meaning that you will spend time and money fixing them rather than enjoying your beautiful new kitchen.

Independent kitchen showrooms offer higher quality products than high-street kitchen retailers, giving you peace of mind. The cabinets are superior, made from higher quality materials with more robust construction, and appliances from top manufacturers such as Miele, Bora and Siemens. Your kitchen showroom will specify higher quality worktops too, which is especially important when considering surfaces such as quartz. Not all quartz is equal, and cheap worktops have a low quartz content, making them more prone to stain and chip than higher-quality versions with high quartz content.

5. Competitive Pricing & Transparency

Many people perceive national kitchen chains as cheaper than independents, partly influenced by mass marketing campaigns promoting significant discounts and ‘free’ added value. However, independent kitchen showrooms offer more competitive pricing than high-street chains, as they have lower overhead costs and more flexibility in their pricing strategies.

Check what your quotation includes to ensure you get the most competitive value and that the company didn’t initially inflate the price. Independent kitchen showrooms offer a full quote, including worktops, delivery and installation. In contrast, high street chains often advertise a great deal based on only the cost of the cabinets, with other necessary components such as worktops, appliances and installation added later.

6. Expert Installation – Same or Better Price

National chains are known for offering ‘supply only’ kitchens installed by a separate tradesperson or builder, and many people perceive this to be a cheaper option. However, if you choose an independent kitchen designer to install your kitchen, the quote will be more cost-effective or the same as hiring a separate fitter or what your builder would charge.

Using separate companies also increases complexity and room for error, which causes unforeseen additional costs and delays to your project. With the responsibility divided, as the client, you could end up facilitating disputes between the parties to try to resolve any issues – the last thing you need when going through the disruption of a renovation. If there is an issue during installation, an independent kitchen retailer will resolve it rather than pass the blame to whoever supplies the kitchen.

Moreover, an independent kitchen company will install your kitchen quicker and to a higher standard because they know their product inside and out. So, if you want your kitchen fitted as quickly as possible, to the best standard and with minimal hassle, use your showroom’s fitters.

7. After Care – For the Life of Your Kitchen

Independent kitchen companies also offer superior aftercare when compared to high-street chains. From reading this article, you understand the extra level of care, attention and service you’ll get from an independent kitchen company – this also applies to aftercare. With an independent kitchen showroom, there are no call centres; if you need any assistance with your kitchen, simply call the team, and they will be there to help. At KCA, we are proud of our long-lasting relationships with our clients and still service kitchens from two decades ago.

Conclusion

Overall, an independent kitchen design company offers a more personalised and unique experience for a more competitive price than a high street chain. The extra care and attention to detail will enable you to create a design that truly reflects your style and needs and take the stress out of your renovation.

Reasons You Should Choose an Independent Kitchen Company:

  • You are looking for superior kitchen quality that will stand the test of time.
  • You want to receive expert design guidance and advice.
  • You would like opportunities for personalisation and unique design touches.
  • You want to maximise your floor plan to use every inch of available space.
  • You would like someone to manage the whole process and relieve stress.
  • You need a ‘forever kitchen’ that will grow and evolve with you.
  • You are seeking a company to communicate directly with your trades to ensure the smooth running of your project.
  • You are looking for a personal approach to customer service from a company that will look after you and your kitchen years into the future.

KCA - Independent Kitchen Company in Berkshire

KCA is a family-run, independent kitchen and fitted furniture company based in Berkshire. For over 30 years, we have specialised in trade kitchens for contracts and high-end individual homes in London and the Home Counties.

Our expansive showroom in Winkfield is also open to private clients embarking on a home renovation, extension, or self-build project. We are located off the high street, enabling us to offer our award-winning design service while passing on exceptional trade pricing.

Contact us today for a free design consultation with an expert designer and discover the benefits of working with an independent specialist.

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