The benefits of buying bespoke British kitchens
- Credit: Archant
During these uncertain times there may well be significant advantages to buying UK-made kitchens and bedrooms.
Julie Banes, partner at Hertfordshire-based DJ Design, explains why it is currently so important to look to kitchen design companies with extensive experience and a strong British base.
Q: Why is now a good time to buy British-made kitchens and bedrooms?
When taking such a big step in improving your home, you need to be sure your kitchen or bedroom company can deliver. At the moment, because of the pandemic, there are issues of supply from the continent and shortages from time to time, due to erratic shut-downs. We found throughout the virus time we were able to continue working because we weren’t tied to the continent. Although we couldn’t have our showroom open during lockdown, we were able to maintain a level of service – and did not let a single customer down – where other companies had to close completely. If we are possibly going to have repeated shutdowns in Europe over the coming months, this could have an impact on kitchens that are not British.
Q: What about Brexit, will that have an impact?
Yes, I think it will have an impact on supply too and could affect lead times on products, such as German kitchens. Supplies from abroad could become difficult if they are stopped at the docks and there is a backlog. Tariffs might also end up making prices much higher – a company like ours which buys from this country will not have that problem. Many other companies have lead times of six to 12 weeks (whereas ours are three to four weeks) so if there are delays because of Brexit, you could be waiting weeks for your kitchen.
Q: What other benefits are there to buying British?
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We have lead times of three to four weeks, while many other companies have six to 12 weeks. If your kitchen is taking that long and then coming from abroad, you could well have problems if it needs to be altered by a fraction because your kitchen planning has changed and measurements are different. Because of the way we work, we find it very easy to tweak our kitchens and bedrooms to ensure they fit, without causing delays. It is also worth noting, that once we leave the EU we won’t be covered by European regulations so guarantees could be problematic.
Q: What are the advantages to a bespoke approach?
We handmake our carcasses and then source doors from throughout Great Britain – this means we can offer customers more flexibility with sizes, types and depths of carcass, as well as colour, and can offer bespoke furniture at prices that compete with the flatpacks from superstores. We can also colour match to pretty much anything a customer brings in.
Q: How important is customer service?
It is very important. We are with Which Trusted Trader, who look into every few jobs we do to check the quality of the workmanship and fitting and that customers are happy. We are also supported by Hertfordshire Trading Standards. A lot of companies grow too quickly, which means problems can compound and customer service can be affected. We have stuck to five kitchens a week and never varied from that.
Q: What kitchen trends are you seeing at the moment?
Modern kitchen flat J handleless doors in gloss or matt and true handleless have become very popular. Kitchens with islands and oak kitchens are still in high demand. These are coated in a paint formula similar to that used in the boating industry, which is more resilient and gives a lovely matt finish.
Q: What advice do you have for anyone about to embark on a project?
Call us so we can come out as early as possible to measure up and discuss your kitchen ideas. This is especially important if building work is taking place – as the work is carried out unforeseen circumstances can arise that alter the initial plans meaning changes may need to be made as the project progresses.