UK kitchen industry behind the Germans and Italians?

After some kitchen companies attending kbb LDN last earlier this month suggested that the UK kitchen industry was behind the Germans and Italians, Craig Matson, managing director of kitchen retailer Roundhouse, responded and rejected such comments.

Whilst Craig Matson rejected the claims, they were made amid accusations that a lack of investment and an over-cautious attitude were stifling British innovation.

Matson said; “I believe it is possible to achieve a substantial manufacturing base in the UK and become a market leader….The large German kitchen and Italian kitchen companies tend to produce generic designs, initially for their own home markets but with an eye on the international market. I doubt they have much design consideration for the UK market, which is clearly an area British manufacturers should be taking advantage of. The British design ethos of quality and crafted design, using natural materials, is a way of differentiating ourselves from the European style of kitchen furniture. Being different has got to be a good thing.”

Maston, a judge at this year’s kbbreview Industry Awards, had said he had been “struck by the design and craft innovation” in the shortlisted entries he had seen and that he claimed ‘ideas and progression were more about positive thinking than financial backing’.

“The genesis of imaginative design is ideas…” said Maston, “…is putting ideas into manufacture might cost money in terms of investment in R&D and displays, but ideas and progression are an attitude of mind. What generates success is developing these ideas with a common purpose. It is worth the effort. If you cannot differentiate yourself from your competitors you are going to find it much harder to compete successfully.”

Matson went on to issue a rallying call to UK businesses to support British manufacturing and called on the government to increase its backing.

“The UK kitchen industry continues to develop its own innovative, dynamic bespoke design, something it is already recognised for,” he insisted. “We should be optimistic for the future, promoting a positive attitude to design development thus encouraging investment. We should be developing a long-term business attitude and lobbying the government to support manufacturing.”

Kitchens Kitchens Jeff Russell:

Whilst Matson has some merit in his argument, you can liken the kitchen industry to the car industry and whilst there certainly is a market for bespoke kitchens made with natural materials, just as much as there is a market for handcrafted cars by Morgan, there is also a very large section of the market for both kitchens and cars, whereby bespoke has given way to ‘personalisation’ and a desire for a more modern and functional product.

No one would argue that an Audi, Mercedes or BMW is a one off creation anymore than a Roundhouse kitchen is flat-packed, but whilst one is traditional and classic, and the other modern, never the twain shall meet.