Natalie Davenport, head of marketing at furniture fittings manufacturer and distributor Häfele, talks about the latest products and tools that make fitting kitchens quicker and easier, and what trades can do to make the most of this growing market.
The trend for improving, rather than moving has been around for some time and in the current climate, it’s a trend that we don’t expect to change any time soon.
When looking to make improvements to their existing property, the kitchen is a room high on the homeowners’ list, with the space still holding the title of ‘the heart of the home’. As such, trades will likely see kitchen projects increase in the future – so what can they do to be prepared?
There are lots of clever products out there all designed to help fitters install kitchens quickly and efficiently. These include the new tools and hardware to make tasks easier, as well as the latest systems and solutions that allow multi-trades to fit more elements of the kitchen rather than have to outsource to a specialist subcontractor.
Knowing more about these products, completing online training, and even getting to grips with samples now, will put tradespeople in a good position for when business returns to normal and help them maximise future income.
More speed, greater efficiency
While ‘normal’ in the future might look a bit different to what we’re used to, it’s probably safe to assume that trades will continue to be under pressure to work more efficiently – whether due to greater demand for skills, a workforce shortage or simplytheir own desire to improve profitability. Fortunately, leading manufacturers know this so have developed products for installers with speed and efficiency firmly in mind.
In the world of kitchen cabinetry and hardware, one of the biggest changes is constructing furniture with many elements quickly, but also robustly, to give the customer the solid finish they expect.
To help improve this process, at Häfele we have focused on making furniture construction as tool-free as possible. An example of this is Ixconnect CC 8/5/30, a claw connector for wooden drawers that can be used without dowels.
Because it has an innovative claw, it compacts the chips in the front panels of wooden drawers for quick fixing of panels and sides. When combined with a rear panel connector that clamps the rear panel with the side walls, Ixconnect CC 8/5/30 reduces the number of drill holes needed, cutting down assembly time. It’s also entirely concealed once in place.
As well as thinking about ways to make it easier for trades to achieve a high-quality finish quicker, manufacturers are also exploring ways to make lighter work of tasks. Anyone who’s fitted a kitchen knows that levelling cabinetry can be, quite literally, a backbreaking, repetitive task and takes time to get just right.
Thanks to the adjusting tool for the Häfele Axilo Plinth System, that doesn’t need to be the case. The tool allows the user to adjust the height of the units without having to bend down, rotating the arm and mechanism by hand or using an electric drill.
Again, simple tools like this are a great way to improve on-the-job efficiency and enable trades to get through more work in less time.
Making more of kitchens
Manufacturers and distributors are also exploring new product lines that allow trades to expand their services, improve profitability, diversify their income and remove the need to sub work out to others. Furniture lighting is one area where this is the case.
Systems like Loox by Häfele for example, an app-controlled LED furniture lighting range, is plug and play meaning builders can fit the system quickly and easily to create a real standout look for their client. Trades can also get help with designing the lighting scheme in the first place through Hafele’s new lighting design service, where you simply submit basic plans and an expert will mock up a design and list of products for you.
Splashbacks are another area where traditionally multi-trades mayhave brought in a subbie, but due to new product ranges, they needn’t have to. Aluminium-based splashbacks, for example, are an alternative to glass, acrylic and tiled splashbacks and are simple and straightforward to fit. Innovatively designed, fitters can v-groove and fold around corners without joints and cut holes for sockets with ease; you just need some training and you probably already have the tools.
Usefully, basic training for products like AluSplash can be done online and is also free to complete making it a great way to get ahead on the techniques and theory while work is quieter.
By using this downtime to understand new and emerging products, complete online training and even use some of these products to complete jobs around their own homes, trades can be ready and prepared to tackle future jobs quickly and efficiently.