Outdoor kitchens add valuable sales potential as Christina Connor reports…
In the same way that a stool needs three even legs to remain perfectly level; companies ideally need a triple revenue stream to sustain a balanced business. Or so says business guru, Jim McClure, who has sustained a global role as a major hot tub industry influencer for more than two decades. “I typically and regularly discuss the fact that spa retailers can be too dependent on one product line,” observes Jim McClure, who promotes the MAAX family of spas, including American Whirlpool and Vita Spas. Jim says: “If you only work with the one market, like hot tubs, what happens if demand cools? “Or we have a recession, or manufacturers have supply issues – like now — then how do you pay your overheads?”
So, perfect timing for Jim and his UK-based counterpart, Sean Aldred, to introduce the BULL range of outdoor kitchens to selected spa retailers. “The UK and European market tends to lag behind the North American market and trends,” Jim points out. “If you look across the US, many pool dealers and spa retailers also sell outdoor kitchens. Sean agrees: “These are not just a barbecue thrown in the corner – these are actually full kitchens with sinks and full refrigerators with multi burner grills, rotisseries & pizza ovens. Initially taking the sales concept to their current spa dealer base, the pair received a favourable response. “Many were quick to see the value,” Sean says. “It was probably because we coincided with the pandemic outbreak, and people being stuck at home that responses quickly multiplied,” he believes. The pair heard some objections: ‘Oh they won’t sell here’ ‘Brits won’t cook outside’ ‘Too pricey’. “Just the sort of comments we heard when I started introducing spas decades ago,” Jim recalls. With a long-term connection, for Jim, BULL was the obvious outdoor kitchen supplier of choice. “Previously the brand had achieved some garden centre market penetration and on-line traffic but had not linked with the pool and spa trade,” says Jim. Sean undertook extensive factory training; not just to help with sales but also to be confident on assembly and installation.
Sean will lend practical help and sales advice as display units are installed and will work open days to help build the brand invariably supporting with a working unit for promotional catering. “As dealers invested by displaying Bull product in the showrooms, people were immediately very interested,” wsays Jim. From smallish four burners up to most luxurious outdoor kitchens, the Bull ranges have high consumer appeal. With competitors’ online products that start retailing around £400, Jim says price points for the BULL range, which carries a lifetime warranty, have not proved to be an issue. “Customers have been looking at £5k, £6k and £12k and saying yes, I want that, I can see myself cooking on that,” Jim reveals. “In fact, top orders are coming out as high as £25k for a bespoke project complete with sinks and refrigerators and even beer taps,” he says. “It is a very high grade of product and something that is going to work for a very long time.” Although the pair began working with their current spa retailers; they now boast retail sites around the UK that sell BULL alongside many of the popular spa brands. “What dealers are pushing is the full service for a bespoke outdoor kitchen that fits best into a garden space,” says Jim. “Customers are buying the design, supply and install as well as buying expertise.”
“Designed specifically for each garden space, if you can think it; you can have it,” he adds. With supply of bespoke kitchens into the UK and Europe from the BULL’s strategic base in Malta, delivery is typically from six to eight weeks. Components such as grills, drawers, doors and carts are stocked in the UK. In the current climate of jammed ports and the container shipping crisis, stock levels are reasonably good with some components such as stone and natural materials experiencing some delays. Displaying dealers are broadly protected from Internet undercutting and receive geographic marketing areas. Currently territories are available in Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland with some attractive gaps in England and Wales. Early enquiries are advised as those gaps are few and far between and quickly disappearing – hot prospects indeed.