A good fit: diversification into bedrooms is bringing rewards for Wren – and being green

With 111 stores across Britain (it has yet to cross the Irish Sea), Wren Kitchens is a familiar sight on retail parks. What is less obvious is its diversification into fitted bedrooms. It opened its 41st bedroom display when the High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire store opened in late March.

In 2022 (its most recent reported financial year), Wren saw sales break the £1bn mark, more than doubling since 2018. Pre-tax profits jumped 12% to £112m, allowing for more than £90m of investment and £35m of dividends.

Wren opened its first UK store in 2009 when the Healey family was shocked at the state of the UK’s fitted kitchen market, which in their view had gone backwards since they founded Hygena and then became the second largest kitchen manufacturer in the US.

It was not until mid-2022 that conversations began about the bedroom market. But by March 2023 the first cameo display was in-store, followed by the proper retail display five months later.

For Wren, manufacturing has always gone hand in glove with retailing: this allows it to control production and what that entails. Bedrooms are produced at the converted kitchen factory in Howden, East Riding of Yorkshire. It also allows for quick delivery: ordering to fitting takes an average of five to six weeks.

Before the move into bedrooms was discussed, the chain had long been an advocate of what we now understand as sustainability. Up to a quarter of its timber comes from sustainable local woodlands and 45% comes from local sawmills before becoming chipboard. Waste from worktop cutting – filling up to two trailers with sawdust every week – is sold to farmers and the horticultural sector.

The company is on target to achieve Net Zero by 2030, and its initiatives include reporting Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions annually while working on all areas to inset emissions as well as offset; sourcing all materials from sustainable resources; reducing the road delivery mileage of its transport fleet by about half through its TripleTrunking delivery process; working with energy suppliers and leading vehicle manufacturers on zero emission truck batteries; recycling all waste wood and plastic; switching solvent-based paints to water-based in 2023 along with reduced acetone use; installing energy management systems across stores and manufacturing facilities; installing solar panels on the roof of its 1.2million sqft manufacturing facility in Barton-upon-Humber, capable of producing 629.6 Megawatts an hour, and working in collaboration with Hull University to develop a carbon mapping tool, sponsored by Wren.

‘Sustainability is slowly but surely becoming a buzz word in our industry and we have long had an achievable programme of environmental initiatives – primarily based on insetting before offsetting – in place to ensure we are carbon neutral before 2030, while futureproofing our business for generations to come and helping to build a more sustainable and safer planet,’ says Joanne Dodsworth, Wren head of bedrooms.

‘Last year we embarked on a collaborative venture with Hull University to take our efforts to the next level. Together we are in the process of designing and building a unique measurement tool that will map the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint so that customers will soon be able to make informed environmentally positive purchase decisions when choosing their new kitchen or bedroom.’

For Dodsworth, competition comes from established names such as Sharps, Hammonds, B&Q, Howdens and Magnet alongside independent bedroom and kitchen retailers. But one chain is not on Wren’s radar.

‘We cover anything from low end to high end, selling bedrooms from as little as £1,000 to £20,000. Wren is all about affordable luxury and therefore our customer profile is wide and varied. Our prices start from under £1,000 depending on the style, design and size, and through our expert design professionals we meet the needs of social housing, new developments, renovations, right through to high-end, premium property owners. We are not in the market for free-standing Ikea-type products, but other than that we have something for everyone. We also offer up to seven years’ IFC as standard, which is pretty unique in our industry.

‘Our fitted bedrooms offering is an ever-growing range of design options based on market trends and customer demands. We have more than 10 different styles and just over 70 colour and mirror options within our Infinity and InfinityPlus ranges. From classic Shaker styles to traditional Georgian, minimalistic Autograph and Ultra to our recently launched walk-in and slidingwardrobes, there is something for every budget and taste.’

The bestselling range is Shaker Classic in lighter colours such as Cashmere, Cream and Pebble.

Putting in bedroom displays obviously reduces space for the chain’s core offer, but diversification has paid dividends.

‘We have seen a growing trend and sales increase for customers coming in for both kitchens and bedrooms, and we are very much on a trajectory to become the one-stop-shop renovation and new-build “go-to”,’ says Dodsworth.

Getting consumers to consider Wren for bedrooms relies on more than them also being in the market for a kitchen.

‘Until recently our promotional activities have focused very much on local marketing and awareness campaigns in conjunction with the respective showrooms – so, billboards, promotional signage, local leaflet drops. We have also used local radio advertising in certain areas, and social media continues to play a big part in raising awareness and brand promotion. From March we have introduced the bedroom brand into our national TV and radio campaigns.’

Dodsworth is wary of publicly setting any targets for sales or market share, but it seems likely that bedrooms will only become a more important part of the business, and have established players watching with interest.

‘It’s still early days where interest and sales are growing rapidly and complementing our kitchen offerings, so it’s a case of watch this space. Our tried, tested and proven practices and processes are wholly transferrable to bedrooms, which is what enabled us to hit the ground running when we launched.’


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