Independent KBB studio Neil Lerner Kitchen Design shut its doors in April after 30 years in business. In a statement, Lerner said the market challenges created by Brexit had proved overwhelming. Fari Zanjani, owner of kitchen studio Hampstead Kitchens a few doors down from Lerner‚Äôs well-known shop on the exclusive Finchley Road parade in London, told kbbreview that times are indeed very tough.
Brexit has frightened people. I can see it. On Saturdays, the car parks around here used to be full. Now, they are empty. You‚Äôre lucky to get one customer in on a Saturday now.
The drop-off has been gradual, since the referendum vote, but mainly over the past year. We are making enough money to pay salaries and the bills, but we are not making any profit.
We employed six people up until a few months ago, but we‚Äôve had to take action to keep our costs down, so I‚Äôve had to let go our administrator and a senior sales designer. I do all the administration now.
The business has two designers, two fitters and myself now. I try to stick to residential and small projects, as there is more margin from one customer spending ¬£100,000 on a kitchen project with me than 10 flats, which can be a lot of headache and aggravation.
I‚Äôm grateful for Poggenpohl on this parade. If they weren‚Äôt there, I wouldn‚Äôt be here. This is a kitchen shop parade. Good neighbours bring in business. We have a new business owner taking the space next door, selling Valcucine, but they don‚Äôt want to open yet, because of Brexit.
We are making enough money to pay salaries and the bills, but we are not making any profit.
I had been thinking about expanding into that space when it became available a few years ago, but then the vote happened, I was about to expand. When I heard about Brexit, I pulled out. I am so glad I did or I‚Äôd be crying now. I‚Äôd be paying two rents and two rates. The rent is about ¬£30,000 a year on that space.
Having said that, the future is bright. We keep going until we fail. We haven‚Äôt failed yet. We are waiting to get back to normality ‚Äì if we can survive that long.
I‚Äôm not happy with how the Government has dealt with the Brexit process. It looks like they haven‚Äôt got a clue what they are doing and, as time goes on, the uncertainty is just causing more damage. Maybe now a second referendum is necessary to move on.
The money that built Finchley Road and central London came from foreign investors and foreign builders built it.