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  • Writer's pictureTony De Wynter

The KC Story - Celebrating 40 Years of Success

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

From trusted appliance store to premier handcrafted kitchen company, KC Design House achieved 40 successful years in business in 2021. Its appearance, location and name may have changed during the decades, but the values and ambitions on which the company was first built remain the same to this day. In celebration of its milestone anniversary, we take a look back at the KC story so far.


A perfectionist attitude and strong work ethic drive founder and managing director of KC Design House, Richard Jewkes, to achieve every goal he sets. It’s innate, it’s unshakable, at times (for him!) it can be exhausting, but it always leads to highly satisfying and spectacular results. From fixing ‘written off’ kitchen appliances after school as a teenager to designing luxury lifestyle kitchens for Yorkshire’s elite properties, his relentless ‘can do’ approach and strive for excellence has never faltered.


LEARNING ON THE JOB


Initially, John Jewkes Ltd, the family business set up on Wakefield’s Kirkgate high street in 1981 as a kitchen appliance and servicing company, which quickly became a trusted institution of the town. “My dad started the business from scratch, and through building a strong reputation, it became one of the most successful servicing companies in the UK,” recalls Richard. Learning the ropes from an early age, Richard joined the business full-time upon leaving school, training in both appliance sales and service and educated by top brands across Europe. “That’s when my perfectionist attitude first came to light,” says Richard. “If an appliance was deemed broken, I’d see it as a challenge that had to be overcome.”


In addition to these physical skills, Richard also learned the priceless value of excellent customer service - the importance of listening and recommending products fit for the client’s purpose, not merely to boost sales. “The need to satisfy each and every client was at the centre of all we did...just as it is today.”


Naturally, it wasn’t long before Richard set himself another goal - homeownership. Aged 19, he purchased his first property, a run-down cottage in Skelmanthorpe, and just as he fixed up worn-out appliances, he began transforming tired buildings from run-down to wow-worthy, applying that same grit and determination. “I took a complete hands-on approach,” says Richard, “learning about building and design as well as the various trades - roofing, bricklaying, electrics, plumbing...the only thing I failed at was plastering!”


He continued to renovate and remodel, building an impressive property portfolio by the age of 25, which included cottages, farmhouses and barn conversions. “I had that same tenacity to finish whatever I started,” says Richard. “I’m of the mindset that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Patience is ingrained in me. I simply can’t cut corners.”


KC IS BORN


And it was Richard’s instinctive strive for perfectionism that led to the birth of KC, known as Kitchen Creations at that point. “During my property projects, I had a light bulb moment. I realised there wasn’t an accessible company that was creating bespoke kitchens, offering everything from design to building work and installation. It was all off the shelf, all made ‘to do’. Between what I had learned on the appliance side and through my own property renovations, I knew I had the vision and passion to fill that gap in the market.”


After much research and hard work, Kitchen Creations came to fruition, in its infancy added as a concession to the John Jewkes Wakefield site. “It was the perfect starting point as the client was already there,” explains Richard. “We instantly gained customers’ trust and produced spectacular results, and so the business grew organically...as did my expectations and ambitions. I became let down by the supply chain regarding quality, range and reliability, and the business felt choked. It needed a dedicated showroom and space for a workshop so I could source my own cabinet makers to manufacture my designs.”


KC Design House Showroom
KC Design House Showroom

As with all his projects, the showroom was never going to be short of impressive - as Richard puts it, “it had to have tremendous curb appeal”. And so, taking inspiration from German architecture, the company’s unique glass, timber and steel structure, which continues to turn heads, was created on a brownfield site in the West Yorkshire village of Clayton West. A workshop was also added, but during its construction, the work kept coming. So KC’s very first bespoke kitchen was made in the front room of the barn conversion Richard was completing to become his family home. A literal example of taking your work home with you!


A NEW CHAPTER


The opening of the Clayton West showroom meant closing the John Jewkes appliance and servicing side to the business so that Richard could fully focus on his mission to make truly bespoke kitchens accessible to more people. It’s another ambition that he’s worked hard to achieve but is far from complacent about.


“My perfectionist nature and need for quality control meant it took time to find the right calibre of person to work in-house and to build a talented team of subcontractors for structural requirements and installation,” says Richard. “But nailing this meant we were ahead of the design curve, and we continue to push boundaries today with that same out-of-the-box thinking. If you sit still in business, you get left behind, and so we’ve never rested on our laurels.”


In 2016 came another change for the business when its name switched to KC Design House as requests for the company’s impeccable design extended beyond the kitchen to other areas of the home. This included commissions for bespoke dining tables, sideboards and home bars, plus utility rooms and bedroom furniture.


EVER-EVOLVING


As the company’s organic growth has continued, Richard has been successful in bringing bespoke lifestyle kitchens to more people, with projects taking the team across the Yorkshire borders, to the likes of the Lincolnshire Wolds and as far north as Scotland.


“As we’ve grown, we’ve gained more confidence, increasing specification of products and attracting new trade partners and clients alike,” says Richard. “People in their thirties are now citing KC as a place to go for their interior projects, which is really exciting.”


Having been in business for 40 years, Richard has seen the ‘heart of the home’ go through many modifications centred around inherited behaviours and new technology.


“Having the kitchen as the sociable area of the home goes back to our social instincts of all gathering around the fire. I told people to knock walls out 15 years ago, but they thought it would devalue their home. Following the 60s and 70s trend of separate rooms for cooking and dining, open-plan has bounced back with bells on. Now as well as being practical, thought is put into the entertaining element and theatrics too.”


As an avid appliance fan, Richard also notes induction hobs, specialist refrigeration, boiling water taps, and countertop extractors as game-changers in revolutionising kitchens’ functionality and design.


CELEBRATING SUCCESS


Evolving throughout the four decades, Richard puts KC’s success down to the team’s personal, creative and meticulous approach teamed with the same strong customer values on which the initial family business was built.


“We’ve gone from designing to advising,” says Richard. “Schemes develop through listening, interpreting, suggesting, and so, we design with the client, for the client. There is no copying and pasting; each project is individually designed around the space and the homeowners’ lifestyle, habits, and needs. It’s not a quick fix. It's an experience and an investment for those thinking long-term, but there’s no doubt our team delivers impeccable service and achieves unbelievable results, which is really humbling.”


So, having grown the business tenfold, built an award-winning showroom, and worked on countless property projects, what has idealist Richard come to learn?


“Perfection doesn’t exist...but excellence does!”


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