In an exclusive interview in the October issue of Housewares Magazine, he revealed details of a three-year multi-million pound plan which includes a brand new state-of-the-art fulfilment centre.
Founded by Thomas Plant in 1850, Kitchen Craft is one of the UK’s largest housewares companies, exporting to more than 80 countries in Europe and the Middle East.
In 2013 it was acquired by Lifetime Brands, a global provider of branded kitchenware, tableware and housewares, supplying retailers in North America. The US company acquired Corby-based supplier Creative Tops two years earlier. These moves established Lifetime Brands in the European market.
On January 1, KitchenCraft and Creative Tops were consolidated into one business called Lifetime Brands Europe but trading as KitchenCraft with two specialist divisions: Cook (KitchenCraft) and Dine (Creative Tops).
In August, the KitchenCraft and Creative Tops sales teams were consolidated into one team to enable customers to access the group’s full range of brands and products.
The group’s sales team now sells both Cook and Dine products “so it’s more streamlined for customers, with one point of contact,” said Matthew, “We’ve already seen that it’s starting to work; we’re reducing complexity from the customers’ point of view.”
Under the new structure, the group has seven directors: sales director Darren Nickolls, operations director Tony Elliot, marketing director Claire Budgen, ecommerce director Matthew Dunn, creative director Aimee Hodgkins, finance director Anthony Perry, international sales director Nick Mummery and projects director Peter Murphy.
There are also two product directors: KitchenCraft product director Peter Bushell and Creative Tops product director Richard Jones.
The brand portfolio for the group comprises 10 KitchenCraft brands (Farberware, KitchenCraft, MasterClass, ColourWorks, Paul Hollywood, Le’Xpress, Barcraft, Artesa, Lovello, Fred) and four Creative Tops brands (Mikasa, La Cafetiere, Built and Creative Tops). “This breadth enables us to offer differentiation across channels and price points,” said Matthew.
The strategy is being supported by a three-year multi-million pound investment plan.
KitchenCraft has signed up to spend a “significant amount” on a new software system which integrates business functions across the company.
The supplier is also investing in a state-of-the-art fulfilment centre. KitchenCraft is currently operating seven warehouses, “and that adds to the complexity of running our business,” Matthew said. “We want to streamline, so all our stock is in one place.”
Scheduled to open in 2019, the new-build 250,000sq ft unit will be located in Birmingham (at a yet unnamed location that’s “good for motorway links”) and will also accommodate the KitchenCraft offices and a new showroom. Creative Tops will continue to operate from its own site.
The group is also keen to continue its investment in product development. Matthew said it carries a total of 6,000 products and has a “fantastic pipeline” of new ideas coming from both its UK and US sides.
“We firmly believe that our customers need differentiation – and we have the brands and flexibility to help them achieve this,” he said.
The Creative Tops division is now in the process of implementing KitchenCraft’s end-to-end product management system, to manage product critical paths, data management and quality.
“Today’s consumer,” Matthew said, “wants everything on their terms – wherever, whenever, whatever they need. So we are building our capability to enable our customers to achieve that: through stockholding, next day delivery, direct despatch and customer support.
“We carry stock in a way that I think very few businesses do in the UK. Our stockholding is really significant and we have no intention of cutting it. We’re absolutely invested in that and the new warehouse will enable us to do it.”
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KitchenCraft managing director Matthew Canwell