The kitchen is at the heart of the home and as such, many people are keen to have well-designed and attractive kitchen furniture. However, spending on kitchen furniture has been hit by a drop in consumer confidence and a downturn in the housing property market.
Nevertheless, the UK manufacturers of kitchen furniture are expected to see an increase in e revenues from 2012 onwards, albeit only by 0.3% on this year, as the UK economy slowly stabilises from the recession.
Without shows like Come Dine with Me and Grand Designs, many industry analysts feel that the UK market would have experienced even worse revenues during the recession had it not been for people wanting to invest in their homes to better their chances of selling, or more so, improving their homes in light of people staying put in a stagnant property market.
Perhaps, over the coming 1-5 year period the UK industry will see a return to former glories but, as with any resurgent market, it is often the innovators that led the way.
Before the credit crunch the UK domestic kitchen furniture market experienced steady growth from 2002-2007, reaching a market size of £1.4bn by the end of the period.
The decline in the house building sector, together with a downturn in consumer spending and tighter financial conditions during the credit crunch resulted in a significant decline in the market in 2008 and an even steeper fall in 2009. However, the market began to show some stability in 2010 and going into 2012 the UK market is now worth some £3 billion at the retail level.
During this 2002-7 period the level of price competition remained fairly high in most sectors of the market, but particularly in the low and mid priced sectors, whilst bespoke, high end kitchen businesses saw less competition owing to their marquee brand status.
The kitchen furniture market comprises furniture, worktops and sinks, with furniture accounting for some 76% of the market in value terms, whilst worktops account for 14% and sinks for 10%. Worktops have gradually gained market share in recent years in line with the trend towards higher value products in this sector.
It is thought by analysts that the kitchen furniture market is at the mature stage of its product lifecycle in that consumer awareness is high and purchasing decisions tend to be based on design, colour and materials. Features such as soft-closing doors and drawers, sophisticated lighting and additional electrical appliances such as televisions and coffee machines are increasing in popularity. This is perhaps supportedby the growing trends in german made kitchens and designs inspired by German kitchens which showcase superior form and function.
Of today’s modern kitchen styles, black kitchens are becoming more and more popular, and with some ultra modern appliances to match, it’s hard not to look at some of our black kitchen designs and see the elegance, uncompromising quality and attention to detail reminiscent of the iPhone.
At the upper end of the market handle-free doors are offered by some manufacturers in line with sleek, minimalist styles. High gloss finishes, stainless steel, frosted glass, wood and metallic finishes are all popular, with combinations of materials frequently used to add interest.
Demand for design features in the kitchen has increased the importance of both worktops and sinks which can create high visual impact and products such as the Phantom by German company, Hacker. The Phantom operates on Silent Move technology, which allows a colossal piece of natural stone to gracefully and silently float across the kitchen island, hence it’s name, the Phantom. The slightest touch will reveal a beautiful flush mounted Miele induction hob and custom made Blanco stainless steel sink and tap. When finished preparing the food user can then simply close the natural stone surface with an effortless push. The Phantom is available from german kitchens manufacturer Hacker Kitchens.
High gloss laminates, solid surfaces and granite all increased in popularity in the mid 2000s, although their growth was somewhat restricted during the downturn in the market and the affordability of laminates means that they are likely to continue to dominate the market in the foreseeable future, especially in the new build housing sector where the emphasis is on cheaper materials to maximise profits.
The popularity of dishwashers has contributed towards changing the use of a sink from an area simply for washing up, to a multi-functional work centre, which incorporates features for washing, food preparation and drainage. Multi-functional sinks are widely available, with a range of different features, such as strainer and draining bowls in varying depths, a variety of chopping boards, larger sinks, as well as associated products such as pull out spray rinse taps. In general, the focus on food preparation and overall design is helping to promote the growth of the sinks market.
One such key innovation is the Franke Minerva 3-in-1 kettle tap. The Kettle Tap provides hot, cold and boiling water from the one unit for complete convenience. Boiling the kettle can be a waste of water and time; and with the Kettle Tap only the water required is used – meaning savings in water and electricity.
Imports of kitchen furniture increased significantly from 2007 onwards reaching £188m in 2008, and imports currently account for around 14% of the kitchen furniture market. Italy (47%) and Germany (31%) are the major sources of imports and Alno and Hacker, the German based companies are two of the major exporters to the UK.
The distribution channel structure has experienced some changes in recent years, with a sharp fall in the share held by the furniture multiple sector, due to the closure of MFI and a shift towards builders’ merchants, with the sector benefiting from MFI’s demise.
Another key scalp taken in the kitchen industry recently was Homeform Group, the stricken owner of Moben Kitchens and Dolphin, which owed nearly £95m when it went into administration, with £60.5m of that owed to HFUK3. Homeform Group had its headoffice in Cornbrook, Manchester which is about 2 miles from their Stockport Kitchens key showrooms of Moben, Dolphin & Sharps
This Kitchens Kitchens news item was sourced from various news sources, and market analysts including Ibis World, KBB, CSIL Market Research and AMA Research