Steamer Trading Cookshop acquires Kitchens

Steamer Trading Cookshop has this morning announced the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Kitchens (Catering Utensils) Ltd.

The deal will see Kitchens’ three award-winning stores in Bath, Bristol and Cardiff become part of Steamer Trading. In addition, Kitchens’ website, www.kitchenscookshop.co.uk, will be acquired.

All of the existing Kitchens’ staff will join Steamer Trading following the transaction, although managing director Nicky Foster and sales director Karen Carnovale have announced that after 44 and 31 years respectively with Kitchens, they will remain with the business for a couple of months but will leave later this year. Linda Dixon and Marni Poole will continue in their buying roles.

Nicky said: “The decision to move on from Kitchens, a business I’ve been part of since I was 16, was never going to be easy. But Karen and I have worked closely with Ben and the team at Steamer Trading for many years and we firmly believe that we’re leaving Kitchens in the best possible hands.”

Karen added: “I’m very proud of everything that Kitchens and our teams have achieved over many years, and I’m delighted that we’ve agreed for Steamer to take it forward at an exciting time for the kitchenware sector.”

On behalf of Steamer Trading, managing director Ben Phillips commented: “Kitchens is truly one of the most respected names in the industry with a reputation for authority, credibility and service that is second to none. I was delighted that the shareholders of Kitchens, many of who will be remaining with the business, chose to partner with Steamer Trading for the future.”

He stressed that the Kitchens stores – recently rebranded as Kitchens Cookshop – will retain their existing name. Ben explained to www.HousewaresLive.net: “Kitchens has three fantastic shops, a very strong geographical presence and a long-standing reputation in the industry. Customers know and love it as Kitchens, so we’re not looking to change the name.”

He continued: “We think it’s a very magical business and want to understand what makes it special before we decide on the best way to take it forward.”

Ben said that while no definite plans have been formulated at this stage, he is keen to retain Kitchens’ specialist focus as a destination cookshop retailer. In particular, he highlighted its reputation for staff training and staff retention as “core retail values that are very much at the heart of Steamer”.

Kitchens’ long established, comprehensive training programme is well recognised within the industry. New staff must complete a thorough training course and weekly one hour training sessions are held for all the team. Training programmes cover customer care, product knowledge and procedures. Staff can further enhance their product training by testing many of the products for themselves.

Kitchens has won many awards for both staff training and visual merchandising, and in 2010 was the UK recipient of the prestigious Global Innovator Award (gia).

The company was founded in 1968 and has gradually expanded from a small store in Clifton into three large shops in Bristol, Bath and Cardiff. The Bristol store opened in 1970 at 167 Whiteladies Road, with product displayed on three floors.

A branch in Bath followed in 1979 at 4 & 5 Quiet Street. This store also extends over three floors, and is centrally located just a few yards from Milsom Street, a major shopping destination in the city.

The Cardiff store opened in 1990 at 14 High Street, close to the Millennium Stadium. This shop is bigger than the Bristol and Bath shops, with over 9,000sq ft of retail space across two floors.

Steamer Trading is a family-owned business founded in 1985 by David and Liz Phillips. Headquartered in the East Sussex town of Lewes, it has 37 stores throughout the UK. The company also sells online at www.steamer.co.uk .

In March, Steamer Trading announced the acquisition of Divertimenti, the well-established London cookshop and cookery school.

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