Retailer Spotlight: KSL 30th Anniversary interview
Stoneham retailer, KSL Sudbury has been offering Stoneham Kitchens for over seven years, however, this year is a special year as KSL celebrates its 30th Anniversary. We had the pleasure of speaking to its Managing Director, Richard Hibbert, also Chair of KBSA (Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association), to find out more about the company’s history and how they have been celebrating.
SK – 30 years is a long time in the kitchen industry, can you tell us more about how KSL started and your journey?
RH – It was my dad who launched KSL in 1989 in Sudbury. He had always worked in the kitchen industry but wanted to pursue his own thing, so he set out on his own. When he started in the late 80’s it was a very tough time as interest rates were sky high, but this didn’t deter him and here we are 30 years later!
The first premises for KSL was tiny, 700sq feet, no parking, no storage, you get the picture! So, when I joined nearly 19 years ago, I persuaded my dad that we should find a bigger space to develop the business. It took three years to find, but we managed to hit the jackpot with the building we are in now. It’s very modern and it’s big! We have a 1900sq foot showroom, 1100sq foot warehouse and more office space. We finally got car parking spots too!
Since being in the new building, we also bought the premises next door and have expanded into bedrooms, as well as showing more bathrooms and opening an exclusive area upstairs with office displays and a bar.
Although my mum and dad are no longer active in the business (although still directors), the company is still a family-run business; my wife also works in the company, so we hope that we are doing my parents proud, along with our long-standing team.
SK – Can you explain how you became a Stoneham retailer?
RH – As Managing Director, I have always aspired to offer Stoneham Kitchens to our customers, and it was just over seven years ago when the opportunity came our way.
When we moved to our current site, we didn’t offer Stoneham Kitchens. I had seen the company many times at various events and had been extremely impressed with the quality, style and designs they produced. At the time Stoneham had another retailer in the area who they were loyal to – this also impressed us and made us want Stoneham even more. As luck would have it, two years later we were invited to Grand Designs to discuss the opportunity to become a Stoneham retailer.
Stoneham Kitchens is now one of our main kitchen offerings. We have two main displays in our showroom which showcase Stoneham’s Ightham, Strata, Bewl and Fusion ranges as well as detailing, including black and white Zebrano accents, pocket doors and curved furniture. The kitchens are great examples of what can be achieved with Stoneham and have gone down very well with our customers.
SK – So tell us what you have been up to for your 30th Anniversary?
RH – We recently had a golf day raising money for EACH (East Anglian Children’s Hospice) which we ran in conjunction with some of our industry suppliers, including Stoneham who sponsored the ‘longest drive’ and ‘hole in one’. Some of our customers also joined us for the day. We raised £3,000 which was more than we had expected. We are also running offers for our customers and Stoneham is kindly crafting KSL 30 Anniversary inscribed chopping boards, which we are gifting to customers with every Stoneham Kitchen purchase.
Our aim for the year is to do as much as possible for charity through events we are looking to run with local businesses. Overall, we want to have a memorable year with our team, our suppliers and the local community.
SK – Finally, what would you say has been your biggest achievement over the past 30 years?
RH – Growing KSL year-on-year with a strong, loyal team who enjoy their work. Making it to 30 years and being able to stay fresh and current is also up there in my top achievements.
On a personal level being asked to Chair the KBSA is a major highlight, as is being asked to judge various national industry awards. By far though, my biggest achievement is my young family and being able to dedicate time to them so I don’t miss out on the best bits. Only time will tell if they decide to join the family business.