Kitchen Warehouse keeps it in the family

Since its inception in 1996, West Australian business Kitchen Warehouse has undergone many transformations. There was the merger with an online retailer in 2016, an expansion out of WA in 2017, re-brands, new store designs and countless marketing strategies. But throughout the years one thing has remained the same—the family at the heart of it all.

John and Marilyn Macaulay originally started the business after a trip around the United States. They were inspired by the kitchenware and entertaining stores on offer there and realised there was an opportunity to start a similar retail business in Australia. 

Along with their daughter Justine Murphy and son-in-law Chris, the pair grew their bricks-and-mortar business and developed a loyal customer base in WA. At the same time, their son Peter was growing his own retail business, online store Kitchenware Direct. For around seven years the companies were in direct competition, until 2016 when the family members decided to merge the businesses.

“The merge was essentially a long time in the making,” says Chris Murphy, who is now the director of Kitchen Warehouse. “As two like-minded businesses with a common growth goal, the best way forward was to utilise each other’s strengths. The way forward in retail is quite clearly omni- or multi-channel retailing.”

At a time when many are questioning what the future holds for retail, Murphy was convinced that a combination of online and offline retailing would lead to success. On the one hand, Kitchen Warehouse had a solid bricks-and-mortar base of seven large format stores in WA, while pure play online retailer Kitchenware Direct brought extensive ecommerce experience to the partnership.                               

The retailer now has 10 bricks-and-mortar locations, after expanding into the eastern states earlier this year with two stores in Victoria and one in Queensland. “Kitchen Warehouse has had an established business model in Western Australia for many years and during this time we have lost count of the amount of requests to move to the eastern states,” says Murphy. “We felt it was time to expand and let the rest of the country see what they have been missing out on.”

Kitchen Warehouse stores are large format retail centres with a ‘Bunnings for kitchenware’ feel. There is a vast product assortment—including roughly 4,500 SKUs within 45 parent groups—and a roster of experiences to encourage customers through the doors.

“These are very important to our business and it’s certainly an area we are continually trying to maximise, whether it’s with celebrity chef events, in-store cooking demonstrations, hands-on product workshops or endless aisle shopping,” says Murphy. “Our experienced staff members are fully trained to best fulfil customer needs. This is where we differentiate from our competitors.”

This customer service is the secret to Kitchen Warehouse’s success, says Murphy, and it is important at all levels of the business, from the top down.

“We have a common goal, from the management to retail assistants, to provide the best customer experience we can,” he says. “[We do this] by giving our staff full support, using creative marketing and optimising our strength as a one-stop kitchenware destination.”

The Kitchen Warehouse team is constantly sourcing new products and visual merchandising is planned carefully, with the merchandising department working closely with the buyers to curate the perfect product mix.

“Our new stores are planned out at opening to best merchandise every single SKU whilst being continually aware of stock levels,” says Murphy. “Our aim is to create immersive shopping experiences within the local community.”

Kitchen Warehouse uses multiple promotion channels to grow the business, including social media, which Murphy says they are continually expanding.

“Social media is obviously very important to us and a very effective tool to communicate with targeted elements of our database instantly. It can also potentially boost SEO, prominently promote our in-store events, and build brand loyalty at relatively low cost to the business.” 

With its vast product selection, low prices and dedication to customer service, Murphy says the vision for Kitchen Warehouse is to become the number one kitchenware retailer in the country. “To do this we have to offer the best customer experience both online and in-store,” he says. “We need to have the right and innovative product assortment at the best possible prices, and harness and grow our loyal customer base.

“We plan to continue our growth strategy whilst being fully aware of the ever-changing retail landscape, continue to harness our loyal customer base, together with offering unparalleled customer service and being first to market with trends.”