Apprehensive about the state of the high street, Hanner began a two-year search for a suitable studio space for his kitchen design and supply firm. He settled on a novel and cost-effective site – an old 20ft shipping container. Having researched the ways in which he could convert the container, Hanner opened his showroom "pod" in 2008, gaining him a lot of local recognition. "Containers are quite well known in the US for house building but fewer projects are seen in the UK," he says. "I now have a studio like no-one else, and have been able to survive the recession without the huge pressures most related business have with large outlets. Containers are incredibly cost effective."
Hanner has built up his company slowly, with a turnover of £120,00 for the past year, and is now looking to future expansion: “Within the next five years, I’d like to have a few more local studios as well as a showroom in London. After building up the brand, I’ll also be looking to franchise the business.”
The current showroom for The Kitchen Designer is based in the grounds of a garden centre in Trowbridge, something that Hanner believes has worked to his advantage: “People shopping at garden centres are focused on improving their homes – and this is exactly the kind of customer I want!”
Hanner is convinced his business could succeed further afield. Aside from the fact that his shipping-container offices would be very easy to transport, Hanner reckons expats living abroad would really appreciate the “very British kitchen design”, as it differs greatly to designs found in Europe and the US.