Keller is well known for offering the widest range of colours (2,050 NCS) and finishes in the kitchen furniture market – along with a vast range of cabinet options, all produced by the most sustainable means possible. The company is proud to be a Carbon Neutral kitchen manufacturer since 2017 and is now on the way to becoming Carbon Negative. Perhaps best known in the retailer market here in the UK, the company is fast becoming the first choice in the premium developer sector too. Here Tim Spann, Keller’s UK National Sales Manager discusses the reasons why the contract market is specifying the established Dutch company when designing all levels of kitchen schemes.
How long has Keller been providing contract kitchens in the Netherlands – and the UK?
It is ironic that Keller was actually a contract kitchen manufacturer before we moved into supplying retailers. Keller started out in 1935 making wooden floors, moving into completely bespoke one-off kitchens retailing direct to consumers within two years. However, the move into mass manufacturing of kitchens came in 1946 when Keller won an order to supply 1,000 kitchens for the rebuilding of homes after World War 2. The move into supplying kitchens via a network of retailers began in the 1950’s. The rest is history as they say.
Fast forward to 2023 and, with our parent Group DKG, we now have a contract kitchen market share in the Netherlands of around 70%. When I joined Keller in late 2019 to head up sales and the running of the UK operation, it became clear that contract kitchens were a speciality that we were not promoting in the UK. We had delivered a small number of projects here via retailers but, in 2020, as part of our newly formulated strategy for the UK, we started our concerted effort to work in partnership with a limited number of contract kitchen specialists.
Now in 2023, we have reached a point where our UK growth in contracts is expediential after a run of success in winning contract partners and seeing our products specified by number of major developers. 2023 will see us deliver more than double the number of kitchens we sold via our retail partners in 2022. We had critical mass at our Bergen op Zoom factory. Now, we have momentum and the will to win. And win we will.
Developers have bought into one of our main USP; we have been a Carbon Neutral manufacturer since April 2017; a true Carbon Neutral manufacturer that took massive steps to reduce our carbon footprint to a minimum without relying on carbon offsets solely. It is an ethos that has remained unique in our industry in order to maintain our leader status in the crusade to be as carbon efficient as possible. Our aim is backed by a forward-thinking board and owners who make substantial year-on-year investments.
Which ranges, colours, designs are popular with developers in the UK today?
Our range of products is vast when compared to many of our competitors to the point where we have become as near bespoke as possible for mass production. Keller is a major manufacturer with flexibility to meet needs and deliver solutions that make us unique with the scope to deliver kitchen and living space solutions from luxury penthouses and affordable homes – plus everything in between. The full range of products is available for the developer market and we have some volume-based options that help us hit price points and multiple budget levels.
For modern developers, open plan and omni plan are largely the order of the day. More is expected of the kitchen than ever before as kitchen life has expanded further into the home. Often kitchen, dining and living space see no solid divides especially with modern apartment living; but it is also a trend in houses. The heart of the home has morphed into the heart and soul of the home.
Whist we have 2,050 colours to work with, popular colours for contract kitchens are still the various shades of grey with blues and greens on the rise again. Natural colours and natural materials such as veneers and solid woods are popular. Handleless kitchens still out-sell kitchens with handles by a long way as they give developers the opportunity to offer clean lines and contemporary styling.
What do today’s new build customers desire most?
Good design with clever use of space maximising storage solutions is key to a good contract kitchen. A good kitchen is not exclusive to a large volume of space. A good kitchen is one that answers the brief, within the space available, within the budget, whilst meeting buyer aspirations. Good kitchens sell houses; there is no doubt about that. A good palette of finish choices can help seal the home sale, delivering the buyer choices to suit their style wish list.
What dedicated resources do you have?
We rely on the local market knowledge of our contract partners. However, we bring 77 years of contract kitchen experience to that partnership; experience across many markets and market segments. Our ethos is to be solution-led whilst making beautiful kitchens attainable, affordable and sustainable. Our flexibility and scope of options is fundamental in giving our partners and their clients winning solutions.
How about the key questions on quality, service, technical help and supply times.
We pride ourselves on high quality and service. Apart from Keller’s skillsets, we have a state-of-the-art factory that enables us to maintain the highest levels of quality consistently. We are people-centric in terms of our team and in terms of our customer needs. Whilst substantial in size, we are not quite the biggest, but we are big enough to meet customer demands whilst remaining in touch with our roots and the market needs. Being early adopters of new and constantly-evolving technology will enable us to stay at forefront of providing a broad range of products and services that meet the market needs; while being truly sustainable.
For further information, please visit www.kellerkitchens.com.