A kitchen by Itek Design featured in one of

Gibraltar’s many new residential developments

going through a period of development at the time and there was a lot of housing being built for local people.

“Back then we were dealing with a very basic, flat- pack product that fitted in well with the budgets for those developments. Within two years of trading that way, we expanded our reach by introducing Magnet kitchens, so that we could appeal to a different market.” Though Interbuild was already winning a lot of contract kitchen business, the real turning point for Llufrio and De Jesus came in 1999 when, based on their

reputation for quality management, they won the design and contract to

project supply

kitchens to a luxury Taylor Woodrow development. Taylor Woodrow went on to build bigger and better developments in Gibraltar and began demanding a higher-end kitchen product, more in line with the luxury price tag on each apartment.

“There was a lot of development going on and we had a good reputation but, with Gibraltar being such a small place, we decided we needed an edge over the

competition,” Llufrio says. “Up until then,

everyone had been fighting over the lower to middle market, but nobody had really taken that leap into the top end. So, in 2002 we introduced Poggenpohl kitchens into Gibraltar.”

Luxury kitchens

“It was a huge leap of faith,” he recalls. “Until we introduced Poggenpohl kitchens to the market, there really was nothing else like it here. In fact, you could argue that, together with Taylor Woodrow, we created the market for luxury kitchens in Gibraltar. “At the same time as feeling like we’d taken a gamble, the new partnership also made sense because, like Magnet – a brand we had been dealing with for years – Poggenpohl was part of the Nobia Group.” By 2005, as Gibraltar was becoming a more and more popular investment hub for high-net-worth individuals Llufrio and De Jesus saw that there was huge potential for high-end kitchens. “We felt that to be able to sell luxury kitchens


Together with Taylor Woodrow, we created the market for luxury kitchens in Gibraltar

properly and to widen our appeal, we needed a more suitable outlet,” De Jesus explains. “That’s why, in 2005, we extracted that division away from the builders merchants and opened the Itek Design studio in 2006.”

The Itek Design studio specialised in Poggenpohl kitchens until the recession hit Gibraltar in 2009 when, in a bid to stay competitive, they introduced the Pronorm brand to the mix – a decision that Llufrio tells me has been instrumental in the company’s success since.

“The recession forced us to find a more competitively-priced, quality product to suit both retail and developer demand,” he explains. “At that time, Pronorm was part of the Nobia portfolio. It sat alongside Poggenpohl and was being marketed as its [Nobia’s] more competitive brand. Because of our association with Poggenpohl, it made sense to go with Pronorm.” To date, Lufrio and De Jesus have designed and fitted more than 600 Poggenpohl kitchens throughout Gibraltar.

They still offer, and sell, Poggenpohl

kitchens but, they explain, Pronorm – with its broad portfolio of Y-line, X-line, Proline and Classicline ranges – has become increasingly important to the business and is now its main seller.

“The brand of kitchen is less important to developers, but what is still important to them is quality and design,” Llufrio says. “And, the Pronorm portfolio gives them exactly what they need. “It offers the design and quality developers demand, but allows them to flex from the mid to upper end of the market and be competitive with a highly-perceived design value and German precision-

made quality. We’ve got access to all the appliance packages – including Bosch, Neff, Siemens, Miele, Sub Zero – as well, so again, they can add value or reduce the overall cost in a number of ways.” The business currently has an 80:20 split in favour of contracts, but Llufrio and De Jesus tell me that, although there is still a significant amount of development going on in Gibraltar, because of its size [it is just 6.8sq km with a population of around 33,000] they are keen to increase the retail business. “Turnover has doubled over the past two years,” says Llufrio. “That significant growth is predominantly down to the amount of work we’ve won on luxury developments. The amount of development going on here at the moment is phenomenal, however we don’t want to become too reliant on the contracts sector in a country as small as Gibraltar. We are, therefore, making changes to the business in a bid to grow the retail side.”

Located near Main Street – Gibraltar’s central shopping hub – the studio is well positioned to cater for developers and retail customers alike. The growth strategy, they tell me, is to highlight the additional product areas they offer that, alongside kitchens, enable them to offer a complete interior design solution. “We are making changes ito try and increase the

retail business,” says Llufrio. “We’ve always offered flooring, windows, bathrooms and bedrooms etc but, over the next six months or so, the strategy is to put more of an emphasis on marketing these additional services to consumers.” Pronorm, they tell me, is also a key part of that strategy as the product range and price point also appeals to its retail customers.

When you hear Lufrio and De Jesus talk so passionately about growing the retail side of the business, it’s hard to believe that the Itek Design studio concept was originally only part of a five-year plan. The fact that it is still going strong 14 years later and is a significant part of their future strategy speaks volumes.

kbbreview · January 2020

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