On average, most of us buy a new kitchen just once every 20 years, and so choosing to renovate your space isn’t a decision to take lightly. Once you’ve committed to your project, the next step is to find a retailer that you can trust to bring your vision to life.
And while it might seem convenient to walk into your nearest high street showroom and pick a design off the shelf, this may not be the best way to achieve long-lasting kitchen success. In this blog, we’re going to weigh up the pros and cons of independent retailers and big chains to help you find the best approach to suit you and your home.
1. Value For Money
One of the most common reasons so many people avoid approaching independent kitchen retailers is because they are perceived to be expensive. While the impressive sales offered by the likes of Wren, Howdens and Magnet can be tempting, they don’t necessarily represent great value.
When you combine things like door thickness, components, and surface finishes, a high street kitchen might seem fine at first, however, over time, their looks and useability can deteriorate. Furthermore, many customers report ending up paying a different price to the original quote. You shouldn’t find any cheeky hidden costs with an independent retailer.
As small local businesses, independent kitchen retailers live and die by their reputation. Most independent kitchen companies are founded by owners with a keen passion for home interiors, and thus sourcing superb quality products is high on the list of priorities.
Many local independents will offer a variety of mid-range and high-end options, and they will be more than happy to work with you to accommodate your budget. Creating a stunning kitchen will not only leave you with a fantastic space to show off to your friends, but your new kitchen might even make it onto your retailer’s online portfolio.
Either way, delivering superb quality, great value kitchen is the ultimate way to drum up business, so you can rest assured your local experts will be committed to maximizing your budget to the best of their abilities. Choosing a kitchen from an independent retailer can be slightly more expensive, however, you can expect to find exceptional quality that stands the test of time.
2. Design Expertise
If your kitchen is particularly old-fashioned or you’re planning on making significant changes to your layout, then you will likely benefit from more in-depth advice and guidance. The specialist knowledge and experience possessed by the team working at large chains can vary greatly, ranging all the way from new starters that have just learned how to use the company’s 3D modeling software to those who have been designing kitchens for years.
If you’re simply looking to replace your kitchen like for like, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, if you need help with spatial planning or you’re looking for new design solutions to maximize your space, then you may find your local independent specialists more helpful.
As a small, close-knit team of experts, the designers at your local independent showroom take a great deal of responsibility for upholding the company’s reputation. And as such, they will have gone through a rigorous selection process before receiving comprehensive training.
Starting by surveying your home, they will work closely with you to understand your brief and share your vision before finding an innovative design that elevates your space both in terms of looks and functionality. Many independent retailers are experienced in working with builders and architects and should be able to help you with your project no matter how complex your requirements.
3. Variety Of Kitchen Styles To Choose From
When you compare the scale of the vast high street showrooms owned by the likes of Wren or Magnet to the perhaps more boutique dimensions of your local independent, it’s easy to assume that this directly correlates to the variety of designs they have to offer. This is rarely the case.
As larger enterprises, national chains will have bigger marketing budgets and much more money to spend on impressive premises (bear in mind where this money must come from), which allows them to showcase their complete range of kitchen styles. However, as they only work with their own suppliers, they will only ever have a finite range of kitchens and accessories to choose from.
This being said, they can sometimes offer a more diverse collection of appliances brands to choose from depending on their partners. It can be quicker and easier to simply choose a design off the shelf, but if you’re hoping for a more bespoke look, your local kitchen design specialist is the place to go.
Independent kitchen retailers often partner with more than one kitchen manufacturer as well as offering a much broader range of worktop choices, sink and tap brands, and even hardware.
They should have a fantastic collection of samples to explore, and will no doubt be delighted to talk through your ideas, demonstrating appliances, and spending as much time as needed piecing together the perfect selection to achieve your desired look.
4. Customer Service
Working with a large high street brand, you should expect to find a streamlined sales process that leaves you with an excellent kitchen. However, considering Wren have an annual turnover of over £800 million, while they must be doing something right, you also have to wonder just how much your kitchen means to them, especially when something goes wrong.
With the big chain stores, different teams will be responsible for different aspects of your project. From tweaking your design to ordering your products and arranging the fit, you may find yourself speaking to various departments, inevitably leaving room for miscommunication.
With a local independent kitchen retailer, you can rest assured your kitchen is much more than just a sales figure. You should be able to get to know most of the team responsible for bringing your kitchen to life by visiting their local showroom.
And while multiple team members will assist in managing your project, you will always have one point of contact who you can get in touch with if you have any problems or queries.
Delivering excellent customer satisfaction is always a crucial part of maintaining a great reputation, and so you can expect your independent retailer to make it one of their top priorities.
5. Standard Of Installation
The installation of your kitchen is one of the most important aspects of your project. It’s where all the planning comes to fruition as your beautiful new kitchen finally takes shape. The quality and attention to detail with which your kitchen is installed can make a big difference to the finish and longevity of your space.
Furthermore, living without your kitchen for several weeks while having tradespeople working in your house can be stressful. Throughout this time, clear communication and organization are essential.
High street retailers often use subcontractors to carry out their work, which could lead to a level of variability. Many independents have their own team of in-house tradespeople and fitters who have a vested interest in completing your project to the highest standards.
Alternatively, if they rely on an external fitting team, it can be easier to assess the quality of their work by asking to see an example. If you have any problems or questions, you may find it more convenient to speak directly to your point of contact or project manager with a small independent company rather than trying to deal with the head office team of a chain retailer.
When it comes to creating a stunning new kitchen, there’s no right or wrong approach. Opting for an off-the-shelf design from a national chain can be a convenient and cost-effective solution. However, if you’re looking for a bespoke experience, we recommend asking around for recommendations before contacting one of your trusted local independent kitchen specialists.