In conversation with Uform

By Elspeth Pridham
August 19, 2020

Kitchen company Uform is developing the contracts side of the business to cater for the UK housing market. We caught up with its new national contracts manager, Jamie Abbott, to find out more

Can you outline your new job for us?
As dedicated UK national contracts manager I am responsible for developing Uform’s brand presence in order to secure new business within the contract sector. I will be working closely with national and regional house builders and specifiers such as architects, interior designers and surveyors.

What sorts of projects do you supply?
Uform can cater for all types of residential and commercial contracts ranging in size and scale from small residential developments to large sites featuring over 1,500 plots

At what level of the market do you operate?
We offer a selection of doors and components within a good-better-best framework across a range of different price points, meaning we have styles to suit all tastes and budgets. Affordable products at a lower price point does not mean a compromise in quality.

Why should a property developer or architect use Uform?
As a company our vision is simple; to make it easy for our customers to create and deliver the heart of any home. We do this through offering innovative products and unbeatable turnaround times which allows our customers to service their clients confidently and efficiently.

With over £7million of ex-stock product, we are well placed to offer the contract market ranges which are readily available and will therefore not hinder progress on site. Our ranges are tested and approved by FIRA and CATAS and carry a 5-year warranty. In addition to our ex-stock ranges, we also offer a standard Paint to Order palette of 26 colours, a colour match service and a made to order service for select ranges.

A dedicated national contracts manager and key account manager also makes us easy to do business with, allowing specifiers the time to focus on other aspects of their projects.

Did lockdown create a pent-up demand for new kitchens?

We are experiencing a significant surge in demand since the Government started to ease lockdown restrictions and trade resumed. It has been particularly encouraging to see an increase in new business enquiries and moreover, the relaxation of the stamp duty threshold for residential properties up to £500k is a welcomed step to help encourage the purchase of new homes and stimulate the property market.

This change, coupled with certain restrictions on foreign travel has, we have found, resulted in homeowners turning their attention to home improvements. Where they can’t spend money on holiday’s, they may now have more income to spend on bigger ticket items such as kitchens, and having been forced to spend more time indoors in recent months, has potentially led to homeowners having an increased focus on how they can improve their living spaces.

What will the post pandemic kitchen look like?
Because people have been confined to their homes for so long, we believe this has made many re-evaluate how they live and use their indoor space. Our houses are no longer just a place for us to sleep. The pandemic has resulted in the sudden switch to remote home working, so we now require a ‘home office’ environment and this is just one example of how homes need to be more flexible in the future.

Kitchens will become the absolute heart of the home more than ever before so an increased focus on design and functionality will definitely come to the fore. Larger kitchen island units are just one example, islands are not just a place for preparing or eating food, they’re an area to home-school kids or have Zoom calls for work! A shift to remote working could also result in more of a work-life balance for people, which could in turn influence the amount of time we spend cooking in our homes. Undoubtedly, we would expect this to have an influence on kitchen design in terms of pantries and even utility rooms or areas beyond the main kitchen.

While open plan living has been a recent trend, there is some merit in believing that lockdown has made it difficult for some individuals and families to have privacy in their homes if they’re occupying the same space at the same time. You could also argue that it has been more of a challenge to separate work life from home life with no specific home office area so we think all of these factors will come into play in future kitchen design.

What we also believe will happen is the journey consumers undertake when purchasing a new kitchen. With recent restrictions on retail and many showrooms being forced to operate on an appointment only basis, we could see an increase in virtual selling through video conferencing tools so retailers will need to adapt to this accordingly.
From our own experience, through our Kitchen Stori retailers, adopting an ‘appointment only’ basis has actually helped attract a more serious buyer, so we know they’ve a genuine motivation when they contact us to book an appointment.

Overall, we think the Kbb industry has adapted relatively well to the ever-changing situation and while it has proved challenging, it has definitely opened up new opportunities.