Franke UK MD Neil Clark talks to Nicola Hanley about how its new appliances complement its sinks, taps and waste management solutions to provide retailers with a complete kitchen system offering.
Last year, while supply issues were running rife and causing havoc within the KBB industry, Franke Home Solutions re-entered the appliance market in the UK with its premium Mythos range. For many retailers looking for an alternative supplier, the timing was perfect. “Customers were aware we were selling appliances in other markets in Europe and requests were coming in asking if we could get access to them in the UK. So although we already had plans to launch, we pulled things forward,” says Franke UK MD Neil Clark. “I think perhaps we could have launched earlier, and we might have seen even more benefit from that, but at the same time, we had to launch properly and we had to have the full system in place to demonstrate the story to customers and that we were serious about this.”
Franke has launched appliances in the UK before and Clark says the brand learnt a lot of lessons from its previous incursion into the appliance market. “You need to understand where the product sits against other brands and what we could see from the work that had been done in other markets was there was a sweet spot for the brand. But there’s no point introducing something that sits above a level that the product can justify, and I think where we are now is exactly where we can justify.”
The launch is part of Franke’s complete kitchen system concept and appliances fall into the company’s three existing product families, which are positioned at different levels of the market: Mythos is its premium offering, Maris targets the mid-market and Smart is its most economical range.
“The Maris and Mythos names are established families within our core sink and tap categories so kitchen specialists have an understanding of that and what we’re trying to achieve. And then we’ve also introduced the Smart appliance range, which is probably more aimed at the project market, but it has the same design cues as our Smart sinks and taps,” Clark explains. “It’s a simple message but good, better, best runs through everything we do and it’s something our customers relate to and something we can really build a strong story around.”
While Franke was confident in its appliance offering and stock availability, uptake was even better than it anticipated, Clark says. “We were very pleasantly surprised. Within three or four months we had four or five times more retailers committing to this product than had committed to Frames by Franke and that momentum has continued.”
As well as providing products that feature useful innovation that consumers can understand and benefit from, Franke is prioritising service, which it feels is a real driver for growth. “We’ve invested in a field service team and will continue to grow that team as demand increases. We recognise that service is a real differentiator for our brand. There are cheaper brands out there but it’s important that our kitchen specialists have confidence in our brand and part of that is our service. We like to think we’re an easy organisation to deal with from a service point of view.”
Clark says that the contract market is also going to be a key focus for Franke UK moving forwards and it sees big potential with builders and developers as it continues to extend its portfolio and strengthen its project sales team.
Although economic conditions remain challenging and demand, particularly in the mid sector, has been down, Clark is cautiously optimistic that the market is starting to pick up. “We’re encouraged by what we’re hearing from our sales teams and the reaction to the new products we’ve launched this year has been really great. We’ve got to keep working hard and we can’t be complacent at all but I’m encouraged. I think we’re in a good place and there’s a real sense of optimism in the business,” he says.
“We see the opportunity to double the size of the business between now and 2030 and some of that is going to come from our core categories of sinks and taps but a lot of it will come from the newer product categories, so the hoods and appliances that we’re really looking to build.”