NEWS | Round-up

Who is sending mysterious anti- Wren fl yers?

A MYSTERIOUS anti-Wren Kitchens propaganda letter has been sent to various independent KBB retailers. There is no call to action on the poster or any details of who sent it. The postmark on the letters indicates that the sender may be based in south Wales. Its content suggests that it may have been sent by an independent retailer concerned about the infl uence Wren Kitchens has on the market. The fl yer contains various claims about Wren Kitchens, as well as questions to its recipient like ‘Is the KBB industry sleepwalking into an oligopoly, cartel or monopoly?’, ‘Will (or can) Trading

Standards take

action?’, and ‘How will the small independent retailer survive over the next decade?’

The letters have been received by various high-end retailers who shared their letters on LinkedIn, including Barry Collins, managing director of Schwarz Kitchens, Tony Robson of Day True, and Shehryar Khan, the owner of Sheraton Interiors. There are also some claims in the

fl yer about who supplies Wren with appliances and surfaces and the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom

and Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) is also mentioned a couple of times in about its association with the retailer. The BiKBBI has several large kitchen multiples as its retail partners, including Wren, B&Q, and Moores.

Customer complaints are also mentioned in the fl yer, including news headlines about a couple being in a three-year battle with the company as well

as references to the ‘Wren

Kitchen Disasters’ Facebook group – a closed network of 4,100 Wren customers.

Top industry fi gures start up new bathroom brand

FOUR FORMER directors of Vado have launched Armera, an affordable luxury bathroom brand that will sell through a select group of independent retailers. Husband and wife team, Sarah and

Jim Williams have been in the industry for over 20 years and were joint MDs of Vado. The pair founded the new company with previous Vado directors Dean Pamphilon and Dan Carter, who will keep their previous roles as sales director and operations director, respectively.

Homebase opens second dedicated kitchen and bathroom store

HOME AND DIY giant Homebase is to open three small-format stores in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

Homebase already has a Bathstore showroom on New Zealand Avenue in

Walton-on-Thames and it is planning to refresh that store and add a Kitchens by Homebase area.

This is the second Bathstore branch to gain a Kitchens by Homebase area, following the successful launch of the concept in Guildford earlier this year. Homebase acquired Bathstore in July 2019 after it was placed into administration and took control of 44 of its 135 stores.

The company also owns the unit next to the Bathstore premises and is planning to turn this into a Decorate by Homebase store. This site will also house Homebase’s fi rst ever pop-up store. Homebase currently has Decorate by Homebase stores in Cheadle and Sutton.

The Decorate by Homebase stores are dedicated to providing everything needed for a home decorating project. The company said: “The new format allows customers to seek inspiration in one place and purchase everything they need to complete their decorating projects.”


Armera was founded three years ago with Sarah Williams there from the launch. Pamphilon and Carter joined when they left Vado in Spring 2020, with Jim Williams joining later. Sarah Williams spoke to kbbreview exclusively about why they launched the brand. She said: “The reason for setting up Armera is recognising a gap in the market for real protection for retailers. The principle is to set up a selective distribution club (SDC) selling selectively through only 150 retailers. We are keeping it to working with like- minded retail businesses.”

The company already has 40 retailers lined up to work with the brand and is working on fi nding like-minded retailers to join the club. The team has been researching bricks-and-mortar retailers that they would like to work with that have their same vision of

quality and attention to detail. Williams said: “We are being so selective of who we are working with, we want to be able to be choosy. We’ve hired Frances Barber, a top-level sales manager, since mid-October and her and Dean Pamphilon have been going out and taking these months to research and fi nd out who we want to work with.” The bathroom range from Armera is comprehensive but deliberately kept simple. There are a limited number of products

within each category, as

Sarah Williams believes this will help ensure retailers and customers are not overwhelmed with choices. She said: “We are trying to simplify the process. There are options for personalisation with different colours, but we try not to overwhelm with choice. We know what sells in the market, as we have seen the sales fi gures. We haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel. We have taken a round and soft square design and made it better with precision and engineering.” The products include furniture, brassware and basins. It also come in a range of price points all marketed as ‘affordable luxury’. Sarah Williams

said: “It’s a

consolidated portfolio and coordinated. We want to provide attention to detail with our products as they have been precisely designed.”

· March 2021

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