Sharing Experience: The KBB Centre
However, the family’s involvement in Suffolk’s business community started nearly 50 years ago, when their father, Alan, started a home improvement business called Star Lines, opening the first kitchen and bathroom showroom in Ipswich. Although it closed its doors in 1985, it was ahead of its time back then, and both Roger and Patrick ‘cut their teeth’ working for the business in their youth before going on to do other things.
In 2003, the brothers returned to their roots , coming together to establish a new family business, KBB, based at Elton Road Business Park.
A one-stop shop for kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms
With the aim of providing a one stop shop for anyone wanting a new kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, and through hard work, determination and an eye for detail, today KBB has a strong reputation locally for providing a personal, caring, value for money service that is based on good customer relationships.
“Our industry has changed immensely since the Star Lines days” says Roger. “There is now so much more competition from large chains and online where your purchase is just another statistic. When you buy from a small, local business such as us, your purchase – no matter the size – means a great deal. Our strength lays not just in our rich heritage, but also in the fact that our customers recommend us so whole-heartedly. We don’t have big marketing budgets and every little bit of help counts, whether that is sharing social media posts, leaving positive reviews or mentioning us to others.”
As the company grew in 2005, KBB moved to Lion Barn Industrial Estate in Needham Market. Then, in 2008, they moved to Dales Road, where a disused warehouse unit was turned into a kitchen and bathroom showroom and officially opened as The KBB Centre. Since then, the brothers have refurbished the showroom again and built a second floor to make room to, not only extend their current kitchen, bathroom and bedroom displays, but also to include appliances, tiles, flooring and a larger office space.
“We believe buying locally from local people is so important.” Roger continues. “It’s tough being a small business owner and we live and breathe for our business. It’s a big jump from being an employee to an employer and trying to make a better life for yourself and your family.
“We are total independent and not affiliated to any particular manufacturers, and we also only use British companies for our kitchen, bathroom and bedroom furniture.”
Passionate about Suffolk
KBB’s support doesn’t just stop at local suppliers. The brothers are passionate about Suffolk and the community they live in, and for the past ten years they‘ve been heavily involved in local Grassroots festivals in the county, encouraging children to take part in outdoor sports that help them reach their potential. As well as successfully running KBB Grassroots Football for many years, they have now extended this support to include KBB Grassroots Cricket and KBB Grassroots Rugby.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, there was little choice but to close. All staff were furloughed leaving the directors to undertake essential work. However, as the construction industry was expected to keep ‘open for business’, KBB resumed its activities in May, although working under the revised safe operating procedures due to Covid.
“As with most small businesses, it’s been a very challenging and scary time.” Patrick explains. “In the first six weeks, we kept busy with our end of year reporting and stocktaking. Financially, we made sure we paid all our suppliers and trimmed down our expenditure, taking payment holidays where we could. As well as benefiting from the furlough scheme and a business rates holiday, we also received small business grant funding.
“Throughout our phone lines stayed open and we were there to answer questions and deal with enquiries. By planning the physical changes needed early on, we were able to keep customers informed, give them confidence and re-open quickly when allowed to do so. We stayed in touch with our team, who have been fantastic throughout, and have restructured to meet the new business approach.
“Above all else, communication and planning have been key to getting us through the pandemic and we are very optimistic about the future.”
A business based on satisfied customers
The KBB Centre is now one of the largest independent kitchen and bathroom retailers in the area and employs 17 people directly, as well as several sub-contractors. With its 5,000 square feet of floor space, the showroom allows customers to see the exciting range of new fitted kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, together with top-of-the-range appliances and innovative furniture and storage solutions. Using its in-house plumbers, plasterers and electricians, and boasting a wealth of essential building knowledge, KBB comes into its own when providing a fully managed service, sorting out the whole project from start to finish.
However, don’t just take their word for it. Here’s what customer, Tanya Ruffles from Felixstowe, had to say about KBB.
“KBB really listened to what we wanted. I shopped around for companies to design my kitchen and my brief was that I didn’t want a square or rectangular island. But every design that anyone else did for me had exactly that and I wanted something different. When I went to KBB, Roger properly listened to what I wanted and the design that he came back with was what clinched it for me. He really took time to go through all the details and made it both original and quirky. By listening to me, KBB actually managed to put my personality into my kitchen!
When I was looking at other companies I had thought about getting a handmade kitchen, but I chose a kitchen from Masterclass Kitchens that suited my budget and I feel that I have ended up with such an exceptional kitchen that I don’t think it looks any different to a handmade one. I loved Masterclass as they had such a variety of colours to choose from. I’m delighted with the finished result and the great thing about this kitchen is that, if in years to come I want to change the colour, I can just paint it.
I have ended up with a truly high-quality kitchen that looks great and is made to last. I love it!”