Changing it up: how a new supplier is helping NBK drive sales

Norwich Bathrooms & Kitchens MD Gareth Pendleton says a new supplier is helping him drive more sales

MD Gareth Pendleton and Tony Wheeler, kitchen designer

Two years ago, Gareth Pendleton, MD of independent retailer Norwich Bathrooms & Kitchens (NBK), sat with colleagues, mulling the options. “We knew there was a lot more scope for our kitchen business,” he recalls, “and we wanted to look at doubling the amount of installations we did.”

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Pendleton’s business was founded over 20 years ago as a bathroom design and installation firm, growing to embrace kitchens as part of its offering in 2007, developing what became an approximately 10-year trading relationship with Crown Imperial. “We’d had a good run with Crown, but felt it was time for a change,” recalls Pendleton.

Oxford stone wall units combined with anthracite base units
Oxford stone wall units combined with anthracite base units

So they reviewed the market and met with about five potential suppliers as they explored their options. “We wanted to find a supplier that would be a match for our current offering that would cost us less, so increasing our margin and helping us remain ahead in an extremely competitive marketplace,” he explains.

Company profile:

Who are we? Gareth Pendleton, MD

What do we do? Independent kitchen and bathroom retailer 

Kitchens by Jigsaw from TKC. Sinks and taps are mainly from Jigsaw, Waterline and BLANCO. Kitchen prices start from £12,000; average £19,000; most expensive to date, £55,000

Bathroom suppliers Calypso bathroom furniture from Woodstock, Eastbrook, Burlington, Aqualisa, HiB, Frontline, Aquadart, Bristan, Vado and more.

Sales stats “2019 turnover will be £3.5million, up from the previous year by about £450,000,” says Gareth Pendleton

Staffing levels 52, including four designers and 35 tradesmen/installers

Gareth Pendleton, MD, Norwich Bathrooms & Kitchens
We like to think that we are a couple of steps ahead of consumer expectations in terms of our quality of service and installation
Gareth Pendleton, MD, Norwich Bathrooms & Kitchens

“Price wasn’t the only factor,” continues Pendleton of his reasons for settling on the complete kitchen brand, Jigsaw, launched in 2018 by TKC. The choice of current design options, the paint-to-order service and speed of delivery were important considerations too, he says, but it was something else that clinched the deal.

Cartmel units in ivory and painted to order denim
Cartmel units in ivory and painted to order denim

“It was also a feel for being able to work with that company, its ethos and how receptive it was to taking on new business,” he says. “There were several companies that weren’t bothered whether we decided to sell their kitchens or not, but we really felt that TKC wanted us on board.”

Business history

Set up by Gareth Pendleton (47) in 1997 as a bathroom design and installation business, the company remains wholly owned by him today.

There have been several showrooms over the years, with the flagship store opening in Norwich in 2007 to include kitchens “as a natural addition to bathrooms”, as Pendleton describes it.

A bathroom and kitchen showroom opened in Diss four years ago and is currently being moved to new and larger 1500 sq ft premises, which is due to open in January 2020.

A head office opened in Hellesdon four years ago, with an adjacent Bathroom Supplies unit two years ago, and a new administration unit in January 2019. Sales are currently split approximately 70% bathrooms and 30% kitchens. Showroom sales are 100% retail

Gareth Pendleton, MD

After visiting TKC’s HQ in Manchester, Pendleton says the decision was made. “We felt we were gaining a kind of business partner and a company that had similar views to ours about the importance of customer service, not a ‘them and us’ scenario,” he continues. “The company was – and still is – very receptive to our ideas.”

Bushboard’s laminate splashback in Blocked Hex catches the eye in this display of Vero handleless units in Vivo Gloss light grey
Bushboard’s laminate splashback in Blocked Hex catches the eye in this display of Vero handleless units in Vivo Gloss light grey

NBK invested about £150,000 in refurbishing the kitchen area of its showroom in Norwich, stripping out the old displays and replacing them with new ones. “Kitchens were about 15% of our installations and now I can confidently say that’s gone up to about 35%,” says Pendleton, who has taken on a new kitchen project manager, delivery driver, administrator and schedule co-ordinator, and opened a new admin office to help cope with the increased workflow.

Cambridge range featuring 1245mm high curved doors in light grey combined with Windsor doors in indigo, painted to order by TKC
Cambridge range featuring 1245mm high curved doors in light grey combined with Windsor doors in indigo, painted to order by TKC

“In 2019 turnover will be £3.5million, up from the previous year by about £450,000,” he reveals. Bathroom sales are growing too, the Diss showroom will move to new, larger premises in January, and he expects to take on another kitchen designer in 2020. “I’m anticipating a £4million turnover by the end of next year,” he says.  


TK Components profile 

Who are we? Roy Saunders, CEO

What do we do? Supplier of kitchen doors, cabinets and accessories, and now also complete kitchens 

Business history Founded in 1989 by Tom Kelly, this kitchen components company was purchased by management supported by private equity company NorthEdge Capital in December 2015. Following the retirement of Tom Kelly, Roy Saunders joined as CEO in 2016

Today TKC operates from a 100,000 sq ft purpose-built distribution warehouse, HQ, trade counter and showrooms in Manchester. TKC trades with 2500 accounts, has over 8500 SKUs, sells doors, mostly sourced in Italy and also in Poland, and components, including storage solutions, wirework, sinks, taps, hinges and cabinets. Two years ago, TKC introduced Jigsaw, its complete kitchen brand

Sales stats “In 2019, total [annual] sales are heading towards £24.5million including Jigsaw,” says Roy Saunders

Staffing levels About 150

Roy Saunders TKC CEO

Company Q&A

Why did you launch Jigsaw? We felt we had a product and service offering that could make inroads into the [complete kitchen] market and compete with the likes of JJO, Symphony, Omega and Crown. We offer 64 doors with five stocked cabinet colours, competitive pricing and a three-day delivery service nationwide, plus a short lead time on paint-to-order kitchens (10-15 days). We can match to any colour a customer wants with our paint-to-order service. If you look at the others in this space, they tend to have a narrower product range on extended lead times. So Jigsaw gives our retailers the opportunity to sell more and make more margin.

The entrance to NBK’s 2000 sq ft showroom in Norwich features six Jigsaw by TKC kitchen displays and 22 bathroom displays
The entrance to NBK’s 2000 sq ft showroom in Norwich features six Jigsaw by TKC kitchen displays and 22 bathroom displays

How has the brand been received? Our Jigsaw sales will probably be about £3.5million in 2019, and that is furniture only, excluding sinks, taps and worktops. We did about £700,000 last year, so it’s quite substantial growth for us.

We have invested about £1million in the last 12 months on adding trucks to our fleet and on a new warehouse system
Roy Saunders, CEO TKC

How’s business overall? We had a slow start to the year, but it’s been extremely strong – over 20% up – over the last quarter. The components business has been relatively static, given market conditions, but I expect us to see growth by the end of this year. In components, business will be a single digit percentage up, whereas components will be treble digits up.

Will you move to focussing more on complete kitchens, rather than components? No. We started off as a component business and it is still by far the biggest proportion of our sales and always will be. There’s huge focus on it – it’s the core of our business.

Cambridge range featuring 1245mm high curved doors in light grey combined with Windsor doors in indigo, painted to order by TKC
Cambridge range featuring 1245mm high curved doors in light grey combined with Windsor doors in indigo, painted to order by TKC
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What are your latest investments? We have invested about £1million in the last 12 months on adding more trucks to our fleet and on a new warehouse system. At a time when many businesses are holding back or even contracting, we are still investing. And we have just placed the order for a new £1million spray line, coming in Q2 next year, which makes a statement about our ambitions for the future.