When my wife Lis and I set up Kitchen Door Workshop in 1996, the internet was not widely used, and the idea of replacing just your kitchen doors to give the room a make-over was still relatively new. Until then, if you wanted to give your kitchen a new lease of life, you had to go through the mess and financial stress of ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Lis and I believed that replacement kitchen doors were the ideal way for people to refresh their kitchens – by simply replacing doors and drawer-fronts, you could transform the room without changing its structure and layout. Armed with little more than enthusiasm, we set up our replacement door fitting service in Hailsham, East Sussex.
Over the years, the business grew and grew. But as house prices rocketed and it became easier to acquire bank loans, people preferred to borrow money against the future value of their homes in order to fit new kitchens, rather than making smaller changes like replacing doors.
Then the financial crisis hit – house prices started to fall, and it became harder to secure loans. Uncertainty about the future value of property and a lack of job security meant people thought twice before starting costly renovations. They were looking for more affordable, sustainable alternatives, and were prepared to do the work themselves.
This revived interest in replacement kitchen doors coincided with a boom in online shopping, so we launched our website. And we wanted to help our customers at every step of the process, from measuring their units to fitting their new doors, so we produced a DIY handbook and a series of 'how-to' videos.
In 2015 we moved to a new showroom and offices in Uckfield, East Sussex – the official opening of which was attended by the town's Mayor. Over the years, thousands of our customers have very kindly left their feedback on independent consumer review site TrustPilot, which has led to us being awarded an "Excellent" rating.
Since the very beginning, we have supported a variety of charitable causes, including Plan International, an organisation that helps families in the developing world. In keeping with this ethos, our staff get five additional annual leave days to spend volunteering with a charity of their choice, as we firmly believe in giving back to our community where we can.
Looking to the future
After 23 years of family ownership, Lis and I decided it was time to consider the future ownership and direction of our business.
Our primary aims were to provide a long-term legacy for our family, and to enable our staff to share in the success of the business that they helped to build. To this end, we decided not to sell the business to a third party, but instead to transfer the majority of our shareholding to an Employee Ownership Trust – which is the same model used by John Lewis & Partners.
Employee Ownership means our staff enjoy greater job security and gives them an equal share in the financial success of the business. This is great for the morale, motivation and the wellbeing of our team, and it helps us to attract and retain the very highest-calibre people.
But it’s not just us who benefit from Employee Ownership – it means all our team are committed to delivering the very best experience for you, their customer. And you can rest assured that all staff benefit equally from any profits that our business makes. In short, Employee Ownership is great news for all our stakeholders: founding owners, staff, and customers.
On behalf of the whole Kitchen Door Workshop team, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to visit our website, and I hope that you’ll consider us when it comes to planning your home improvement project.
Founder and Chairman