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Business check | RETAIL


Eco German Kitchens Sabine Searle, director


Business is quieter than previous years, but our conversion rate has gone up quite a bit. Footfall is lower, but enquiries are more serious. Regarding Brexit, who knows? The Government says “get ready for Brexit”, but what does this mean? How? From our perspective as a retailer, we have a really good reputation and get lots of recommendations and this drives our business. So right now, we are going fine and doing what we can do. I don’t blame people for holding back. They have the money, but they’re waiting


until the last minute, then making a decision and wanting their kitchens turned around in six weeks. Everything we sell is basically German-made. We sell Neff and Siemens, Blanco and Nobilia. And also Silestone and Caesarstone for worktops. We sell Quooker taps and are the only retailer in Winchester selling Bora. About 60% to 70% of our business comes through recommendations, but we also invest in our website to drive people through the doors with professional photography of the kitchens we have installed. So a few people find us that way. We also do quite a lot on Houzz. We have around 90 reviews on there and we use that in our marketing. So we will create an idea book on our Houzz profile and there they will see the imagery we’ve put together and also all our reviews. And that instils confidence in us. Average spend on a kitchen is around £25,000 to £30,000 and the demographic is split between young families or ‘nest builders’ who are building


extensions or we have older people who are ‘downsizers’ and have moved to a smaller property.


One of our bugbears is with appliance brands who sell


to the consumer more cheaply through online retailers than we can buy direct from the supplier. It’s hard to compete with that. We have the project knowledge, and we demonstrate the products, but they’re available for a £100 cheaper from the likes of B&Q.


Footfall is lower, but enquiries are more serious


Sovereign Bathroom Centre Paul Biffin, owner


Ripples Roger Kyme, owner


We have been here in Winchester for nearly two-and-a-half years, and business has been steadily growing. Compared with 2018, our turnover was up 30% in 2019. We believe this is because our reputation for outstanding services and products, is gaining traction in the local area. Our service is unique in Winchester. From survey, through to 3D design and completing with top-quality installation, we take care of every detail, leaving our customers worry-free and able to sit back and enjoy the results.


Our main demographics are current and retired professionals, but we see customers from every walk of life. The average spend on a family bathroom, including VAT and installation, is around £15,000, but that can go higher or lower. We display the highest quality and price ranges to showcase what we have on


Our turnover was up 30% in 2019


offer. The hurdle can be that some customers think we’ll be too expensive. We have come up with a supply-only package for a shower room costing £2,000 to demonstrate that we can source products that don’t have to break the bank and are still of good quality. We are in the business of making dream bathrooms a reality, and work within our customers’ budgets to achieve this. We only supply brands we really believe in. They must be great quality, with the customer care and guarantees to back that up. We have our own range of natural stone


radiators – Sovereign Stone, which is exclusive to us. We want to be sure our brands are the right fit for us and have visited most of their production factories. The running theme is outstanding customer service, and that doesn’t stop at


retail. It is imperative that our designers have up-to-date knowledge and visual aids to best guide their customers. Each brand has a team of representatives in our area, and their support and reactions are imperative to our success. Our designers receive training, samples and one-to-one support.


January 2020 · kbbreview


Nothing can be taken for granted at the moment


71


We are well aware that we are having to work hard for every order and that nothing can be taken for granted at the moment. That said, the latter half of 2019 was better than the first and we are hopeful of that carrying into this year. We are seeing a good response from our marketing with customers asking us more and more for looks, styles and products that they see featured, whether on our Instagram pages or our web page gallery. Our Style Guide has really helped customers be braver and we have, as a result, seen some good enquiries for the more colourful and unusual products. We believe in design and a truly client-focused customer experience. Our strategy remains to employ the best designers and help them look after customers. We believe in beautiful bathrooms and the important role they play in our lives. Typically customers will spend around £12,000, but this doesn’t mean we don’t help customers with less to spend. Equally, we are very good with a customer who has much more to spend. Winchester is a beautiful area and is served well by a real mix of people that come from all over Hampshire and beyond, so it’s not uncommon for us to travel an hour to a customer’s home. We could all do with some relaxation in the housing market, as the customers we have that are sat on projects waiting to order is higher than normal. That said, we tend not to worry too much about what we can’t control, so our challenge is only making sure we are always at our best every day.


As far as we and the customers are concerned, we are selling Ripples bathrooms and nothing else. The fact that they may have a Laufen Riva pan, hand-made furniture from Bard and Blackwood or a designer radiator from Bisque, is only because they trusted us with their choice.


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