Retailer profile: Cuisines Ligneous – kbbreview: kbbreview
November 17, 2021
Combining skills in cabinetmaking, carpentry, building and design, when Colin Morrell and Adam Prickett joined forces to sell high-end German kitchens, the decision to open a showroom was obvious. Chris Frankland gets the story
If you are opening your first showroom, it helps to have a clear vision. And Colin Morrell and Adam Prickett knew exactly what they wanted to do: sell premium German kitchens.
“We knew that making high-end German kitchens, selling Eggersmanns for over Â£ 200,000 without the showroom would have been impossible,” says sales manager Adam Prickett. âBut it had to be the right showroom. And we had seen a number of options, but by the time we walked through the door here we thought about it for five seconds.
Prickett could see that a main street in wealthy Walton-on-Thames in Surrey would be ideal. It is close to Esher and Oxshott and the area is full of gated estates, like the famous St George’s Hill in Weybridge. âSo this showroom was obvious,â he adds.
Besides Eggersmann, Ligneous Kitchens also sells kitchens from Bax, KH (badged Ligneous Made in Germany) and StÃ¶rmer, as well as its own range of bespoke furniture.
When Prickett and design director Colin Morrell took over the showroom, it was an empty shell.
âEverything else you see in the showroom we built,â Prickett continues. âThe ceiling too. Originally it was just nasty styrofoam panels and we plastered and resculpted it. As a qualified plasterer, I knew what was possible with a coffered ceiling. It also improved the acoustics. I built everything. And many accessories come straight from our workshop. We have also placed it in a utility room hidden behind a door in a single screen and we will also have a hidden faucet screen with around 50 faucets.
Morrell has a background in cabinetmaking. He trained at Parnham College, run by famous furniture maker John Makepeace. From there, he and three others from the college set up their own workshop to make unique furniture.
As he remembers: âWe quickly realized that you couldn’t make a living making unique pieces on your own and that the clients I had were friends and family. Then we picked up corporate clients, manufacturing reception desks and the like. Then we started making furniture for other interior designers as a fabrication shop rather than doing our own thing. It got me into carpentry and we did some fabrication for David Linley.
Then he started Fine Edge Design with another company and bought a carpentry workshop run by two Germans doing high-end residential projects and a few business projects. It was put into liquidation in 2016 and Morrell decided to go it alone and create Ligneous in 2017. He joined forces with one of his German colleagues to buy all the assets of the liquidator and set up a workshop at a very small scale, which is still in operation today and produces unique pieces for Ligneous.
Prickett may have graduated in computer science in the late 90s, but he quickly decided he didn’t want to “sit in front of a computer screen for the rest of my life” and teamed up with a friend who ran a small furniture workshop, who made some kitchens, some furniture, some “carpentry” and theater sets. âI loved it straight away,â he recalls.
Prickett then decided to do some general construction work and obtained a qualification as a plasterer, which was very useful for the job he was given to transform the empty hull of a showroom into a canvas of background worthy of the elegant German kitchens they would sell. .
Prickett had met Morrell around 2007 when he asked him to produce a Japanese sliding wardrobe for a project he was working on. Prickett recalls, âWe hit it off right away. And he continued to work with him, fitting in his Fine Edge business.
âSo in 2017 I decided that the time had come for me to put down the tools and stop suffering so much. We have always known that we are a good fit commercially and that our skills overlap and complement each other. When we talked about German cuisines and Colin came up with this idea, it seemed like a very natural progression. “
They found the showroom in late 2019 and took the rental in January 2020, but the forced closures resulted in work being stopped on the redevelopment land. So Morrell and Prickett decided that since they both had the skills, they were going to go ahead and do it on their own. At the time of kbbreview visit in the middle of August, all except
a display is in place and completed.
So what do they each bring to the Ligneous Kitchens business and how do they complement each other?
Morrell replies, âI can take care of the entire kitchen setup and project management. Adam knows more about the construction side of things.
Prickett adds: âI have a passion for design – interior design too. Colin is technically excellent so we complement each other very well. I’m there and I’m in direct contact with the customer, but with a pretty good knowledge of not only the construction side but also the design and specifications of the kitchen. So when I go with a client at that point that I can hand over to Colin, I hope he knows he’s in good hands.
The plan was always German kitchens and the brands chosen allowed them to offer a variety of prices, styles and finishes.
Prickett clarifies: âBax is a fairly unique German supplier and offers a true tailor-made attitude with its plating capabilities, plus we have ceramics from an Italian company called Laminam, which means you can coat entire kitchens with ceramic. – this gives them an almost unlimited range
âAnd so we can tell customers that if they can’t afford Eggersmann’s incredible products, the true heart and soul of luxury, you can get a kitchen from Bax that looks great but for less.
âEggersmann starts at Â£ 70,000 and the sky’s the limit up to Â£ 250,000. Bax costs Â£ 50,000, but you can still spend over Â£ 100,000.
âEggersmann has an aphorism he adheres to, which is ‘design without compromise’ – if you’ve got some bold ideas, let’s see if we can do it with some bold engineered solutions. Bax are similar.
Morrell adds of Bax, âAnd they’re very personalized. You can get veneer frames, solid wood frames, and door fronts in different oiled finishes, so they add a bit more flair to the mix.
âWe also do StÃ¶rmer, and then we make our own KH brand for us in Germany. This is solid, good quality German cuisine on a par with StÃ¶rmer. KH makes cutouts and miter doors at the end. It is the ability to obtain [different] design features in.
With their own workshop, they can also produce custom shelving, multimedia units, partitions, cabinets, as well as stairs, windows and doors. As Prickett says, âWe can do anything, if they want to. “
On the household appliance side, Ligneous does business with KÃ¼ppersbusch, Miele, Novy, Bora, De Dietrich and V-Zug with Caesarstone, Laminam, Neolith, Corian and Spekva countertops.
Originally slated to open in April, Ligneous has had “a constant flow of business” through the door. As Prickett says: âWe were very happy with the number of requests and the response. There has been pent-up demand that has been released now, but the housing market has also picked up in the Surrey area with a real mini-boom across the price spectrum.
Ligneous is also a member of the KBBG (Der Kreis) buying group, which Morrell says has been of great benefit to the company.
He tells kbbreview: âWe were introduced to [KBBG MD] Bill Miller in a One Year Rise. We were developing our idea for Ligneous and joining KBBG seemed like the right thing to do. There is a level of support as a member that would be invaluable to us as we are no old hackers in the kitchen industry. They helped us choose the brands, the location, their views and their experience of what works and what doesn’t. You also benefit from discounts.
Prickett agrees, âIt has been an incredible resource for connecting with people who have helped us tremendously to get us to where we are now. I would say that to some extent we couldn’t have done it without them.
And the KBBG also helps Ligneous get better deals on many of the brands it stocks.
Morrell shares his vision for Ligneous: âOur philosophy is that we really want it to be a dynamic showroom. We will be holding cooking events as often as possible. We will invite manufacturers with interior decorators to explain the extraction etc, organize wine tastings, stage art exhibitions – make sure there is always something going on, which is why we set up the showroom to make sure it has plenty of space. We didn’t clutter it up trying to fit as much as possible because we don’t need it.
As for the future, Ligneous has growth markets that it intends to target. Prickett says, âHome offices are one area where we think there is a big market – and outdoor life too. This is really an area we want to get involved in and a direction we would like the company to take. These are areas where we could really
âAnd also kitchens in commercial environments, such as in offices. Our signature look, contemporary German style, lends itself well to office environments – understated, professional-style – that call for a smart, contemporary kitchen. In fact, we are about to start quoting for such a job in central London, which could be a really good test for us.
“This side of the business has great potential and is a good niche to target.”
The duo explains that a second showroom could be considered one day. But they would do things differently, says Prickett. âIt’s about when, where and if that second showroom sells the same way, to the same people, and I think the answer is no, it won’t. It will be a different showroom, selling to a different market in a slightly different way. Because we would like to keep this as a little gem, by selling high end German cuisines.
As Morrell confirms, âYou wouldn’t want to do the same anywhere nearby because you would end up competing with yourself. We want something that complements this showroom, rather than competing with it.