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Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Quooker phenomenon

The man behind the Quooker boiling water tap phenomenon in the UK, Managing Director Stephen Johnson, reflects on how far he has brought the Quooker brand, and why so many architects and developers now see the Quooker tap as a virtual necessity in every new kitchen.

Stephen Johnson, son of the renowned kitchens expert Neville Johnson, left school at the age of 16 and went straight into the family business. His time there, working in every department from factory floor to accounts, from sales and marketing to operations, proved a hugely valuable learning experience in exposing him to the nuances of the kitchen industry.

“People think I had it easy going straight into the family business and not having to find a job, explains Stephen, it was actually far from easy as my father was a tough task master and probably worked me harder because I was his son. Stephen eventually became managing director and after 20 years the business was sold. It remains a successful multi-million-pound business and leading brand still marketed under the Neville Johnson name.

Following the sale, Stephen began looking for a new challenge. He saw an advertisement in The Times for Quooker, the Netherlands manufacturer of the world’s only genuinely 100C boiling water tap, a product which he felt had huge potential in the UK was looking for someone to launch and develop the brand in the UK. He met with Quooker a number of times and was taken on board at the end of 2006.

Quooker Flex

“With a couple of weeks training in Holland, a car and a brochure I was ready to start visiting the UK kitchen dealers,? he says. ?At first it wasn’t easy. Kitchen retailers thought I was mad expecting people to spend ?1000 on a tap when a kettle does the same job.”

Kitchen retailers were soon persuaded about the benefits of instant boiling water on tap, as were developers and architects. Because you only use exactly the amount of water you need; the Quooker saves time, energy, water and money. The product is perfect for everything from sterilising baby bottles to making instant cups of tea or coffee and for small kitchens, where it freed up worktop space where a kettle once would have been. With the unique safety feature of a double push and turn handle to activate the tap, it is also far safer than a full boiling kettle of water that could accidentally fall on a child. Sales soon started to take off.

Stephen says, “My Audi estate could hold 38 sets of Quooker taps and I was back and forth to Holland on a regular basis stocking up with 1000 taps sold in the first year in the UK. I was tenacious enough to approach television cookery shows to see if they would take on the product. I secured Saturday Kitchen first, then MasterChef and even got my foot in the door with The Great British Bake Off.

This exposure boosted product awareness and showed the masses how easy and beneficial the new must have for their kitchen was! Quooker had well and truly landed in the UK and was going down a storm. Stephen drove the company forward, employing more staff with a simple ethos of delivering great customer service. Today Quooker UK has over 70 employees including a dedicated installation team.”

Quooker Fusion Black

With Quooker fast becoming a household name, in 2010 Stephen oversaw the launch of the first of its Nordic range, the TwinTaps, and dedicated Nordic boiling tap. In 2013 he launched the Quooker Fusion which became an overnight success. 2017 saw the launch of the Quooker Flex, the world’s first 100C boiling water tap with a pull-out flexible hose. In 2018 the Classic Fusion was introduced specifically for the UK market, providing classical styling for those who prefer a traditional style kitchen. Exciting new gold and matt black finishes for the Fusion were introduced early in 2019.

2019 has proved to be a year of exceptional innovation, with Stephen announcing the launch of the CUBE system, which when teamed with any of Quooker’s current range of taps provides filtered chilled and sparkling water, as well as hot, cold and the 100C boiling water for which the Quooker is now world famous. The CUBE is already proving to be a helpful addition to homes and kitchens, encouraging increased consumption of water in general and the refilling of reusable water bottles.

Stephen remains a firm enthusiast for the brand. If a client installs a 100k kitchen the first thing they tell their friends about and get excited about is the Quooker tap. It’s this buzz about the product and its potential, combined with great service that motivates me every day. I pride myself on always being reachable, approachable and putting the client first.

A new concept to the UK market just over a decade ago, under Stephen’s leadership the Quooker has now grown into a multi-award-winning market leader and is the name most people use when looking to specify any hot or boiling tap.


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