66 Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2018 - Page 75

U LT I M AT E L U X U R Y U LT I M A T E C H O I C E The opening of the flagship Kitchen Things Luxury Collection showroom in Auckland heralds the next step on a journey several decades in the making. There is no one distinct through-line to the 50-plus year retail career and 30 plus European appliance career of Jones Family Business director, Mark Jones. But if you had to identify a couple of beliefs or principles held dear, both technology and family would be at the top of the list. Mark lives and breathes the business, as does his daughter Rachel Louie, whom he continues to work closely alongside as part of a tightknit team. The ‘family’ aspect is right there on the sign at the office door for all to see; the ‘technology’ aspect is something you discover when you dig a little deeper. “I realised early on in business that to succeed, you have to innovate. You can’t continually present the same thing to customers, because technology means there is always forward momentum and change,” he says. “Many years ago, we realised the change that the microwave oven would mean for the average household. We launched the microwave shops because we could see how microwaves would improve on people’s daily lives.” The recognition of that technology from overseas markets led Mark to establish strong bonds with a variety of European appliance manufacturers: Jones Family Business was the first to bring many premium brands to New Zealand, including Italian brand Smeg and strong relationships continue to this day. In many ways, the same compromises that faced the modern family way of life during the Jones Family Business’ formative years continue to exist today; specifically, that as a society we remain time-poor. That driver, says Mark, continues to lead the world’s best appliance manufacturers to innovate. As a result, the family kitchen and bathroom continue to evolve. “I see distinct parallels between the degree of change that the family home is going through now, and what was happening when the microwave oven started to be adopted. The appliance industry continues to recognise this and so we have advances such as the blast freezer and the steam oven. “We now order our groceries online and have them delivered when it suits our schedule. I believe that in the future, preparing meals for the week ahead will become that much easier, because appliance manufacturers are continually improving on the ability for their products to ensure food remains fresher for longer and is less time- intensive to prepare.” Back when Mark’s company started selling microwave ovens, he identified through trial and error that the biggest barrier to the adoption of new technology was knowing how to use it properly. More than just selling the units themselves, Jones Family Business soon established tutorial classes and even published a microwave recipe book, which became the fourth best- selling book in the country. “You see many people buy new technology and then only use 20% of its potential. We want to change that, and that’s why the new showroom is an experiential space; we’d expect many customers to spend four or five hours with their architect or designer in the showroom, because everything is right here for them to see. And our expert in-house sales consultants take the time to explain how the new technologies in these appliances will benefit the customer.” The Kitchen Things Luxury Collection showroom is the bricks-and-mortar representation of a business philosophy Mark has adhered to for much of his professional life. He says that, above everything else, providing a customer with choice is key. But choosing between products that offer the absolute best in terms of quality and technology is also vital. Over time, a customer will never remember the price, he says, only the outcome. “The showroom raises customer interactivity to a level that hasn’t been seen in New Zealand before. Customers , along with their designers and architects, are able to make an appointment so they can immerse themselves with many hundreds of possibilities in one place at their own pace,” says Mark. 66 MagAzine SPRING 2018 73