New kitchens: how do Howdens compare with Magnet for prices? and quality?

(37 Posts)
TuttiFrutti Wed 06-Aug-08 16:59:11

Has anyone got quotes from both? How did they compare?

I've just had a quote from Magnet, which was surprisingly competitive. Want to see Howdens as well, but my builder is on holiday for 2 weeks and Howdens will only give a price to the builder, they won't deal with me direct (although they're happy to come to the house and do a design).

Can anyone enlighten me?

wintera Wed 06-Aug-08 21:51:11

We got our kitchen from Howdens and it all went very well for us. Howdens came round, did the measurements and asked what we wanted etc.. then they sent the quote and design plans to us and to our kitchen fitters.

We then went to MFI with the design plans and quote and asked them to give us a quote for exactly the same things. (We trimmed off everything that said Howdens on it, but the guy at MFI still recognised it as Howdens work! wink ) )He then took great pleasure in giving us a cheaper quote, about £200 cheaper.

Obviously, we were then going to go with MFI but our kitchen guy then went back to Howdens and told them to match it or they were going to lose out. Howdens then came back with a cheaper quote, about £60 cheaper than MFI. So we eventually went with Howdens.

Basically, our kitchen fitter told us to always go with companies that have warehouses attached to the showrooms, because if there is a mistake with the delivery, its easy for someone to pop in and get whatever is missing as it will always be in stock there. If you get it from somewhere that is just a showroom, then they always have to order it from somewhere else and that can lead to long delays if anything gets missed off your order. Our kitchen work was started on a Monday and finished by the Friday and it all went really well. We've had no problems whatsoever with it. The kitchen fitter reckoned that there is nothing worse than starting a job and then having to go back weeks after to finish it off just because something has been delayed.

Not sure about Magnet as I didn't need to contact them in the end, but I hope I've been of some help to you anyway!

mybabysinthegarden Wed 06-Aug-08 22:00:19

I think Howdens are considerably cheaper than MFI/Magnet etc for the individual parts for your kitchen as they only sell to trade-- I needed a new piece of splashback for my kitchen and the price they quoted was about 1/3 that MFI did; however since the kitchen stores regularly have big sales and throw in free appliances etc. it might work out cheaper to go to one of them for the whole kitchen.

I've put in a couple of kitchens now and IMVHO the individual components are identical between Howdens/MFI/B&Q/Magnet etc-- what really makes the difference to the finish of the kitchen is having a good builder install it. So if you've got a good guy, I'd just go with whoever will supply the kitchen most cheaply. And also inspect the stuff like a hawk when you get it-- I've never had an order where I didn't have to send something back, as stuff gets bashed about in those giant warehouses, or warped if it's been sitting around for too long.

hifi Wed 06-Aug-08 22:49:53

howdens carcasses come ready made, apparently they are better if you are having granite. i have seen 3 i like in howdens. if you go with certain kitchen fitters they get a discount, our fitter has got upto 70% off on most things.mfi make £ on the fitting and the granite, its double the price.

hifi Wed 06-Aug-08 22:50:47

we saw the quote from our fitter, i suppose they could buy it a discount and charge you full whack.

TuttiFrutti Thu 07-Aug-08 06:17:28

Ah that is very interesting stuff wintera - I didn't realise Howdens are prepared to send you the quote direct, a friend told me they would only give it to her builder (presumably to let the builder put a mark-up on it if he wanted to). I've got an appointment with them on Monday to come to our house and do a design, so I'll see what happens!

Also the point about warehouses attached to showrooms is a very good one. Magnet have separate showrooms and warehouses, so if we have a bit of the order missing, it could take weeks to track down a replacement. Howdens told me that everything is in stock so the builder can just pick it all up.

And the ready-assembled cabinets from Howdens (thank hifi).. Altogether lots of reasons to go wtih Howdens. Annoyingly though, I really like the particular kitchen we've chosen from Magnet, and they have given us quite a good discount...

Has anyone else experienced either of them? I'd be really interested in a direct comparison.

amidaiwish Thu 07-Aug-08 07:07:39

i have a Howdens kitchen fitted in my utility room. My builder got it - i thought only trade were able to buy from them.
Anyway, it was much much cheaper than MFI and has been fantastic. Doesn't look any different to the very expensive units i had fitted in the kitchen from a Germany kitchen company.

Would agree that it all comes down to the fitting. Be fussy on handles too - and taps -they both can make or break the look of a kitchen.

wintera Thu 07-Aug-08 09:33:39

You guys have jogged my memory now! What happened was Howdens sent a package with the design for the kitchen to us and another package to the kitchen fitter which had the same design details and also a quote. The reason I got confused was because the kitchen fitter gave the quote to us straight away to go and try and get a better price. Sorry for the duff information! I just forgot that the quote didn't get sent directly to us!

Obviously that wouldn't happen in all cases as the kitchen fitters wouldn't want you to see the prices because of their mark ups. Ours must have been a particularly honest guy! He kept the kitchen costs and his costs seperate you see, so we could see exactly what we were being charged for.

wintera Thu 07-Aug-08 09:40:36

I agree about handles and such. You don't think they will make a huge difference but they do! The drawers on my kitchen have drop down handles whereas my cupboards have knob type handles. I quite often get nice comments about them, more so than about anything else in the kitchen!

zippitippitoes Thu 07-Aug-08 09:48:30

these kitchens are really good and they are quick to arrive and very helpful here

our fitter normally fitted hodens and i ordered from these and he said it was the best kitchen he had ever done

babyboo1and2 Thu 07-Aug-08 09:54:05

i just had a howdens kitchen fitted 2 weeks ago and it is excellent quality - the guy compared the ready made units with ready assemblied v flat packed furniture

also agree with being able to go back to warehouse to change items - ive had friends wait weeks from mfi b&q etc

also agree with being picky with finishing touches such as handles and taps

it was all as stressfree as having no washing machine and cooker and a workman in my house as can be

i love my kitchen!

MuffinMclay Thu 07-Aug-08 16:46:27

We have Howdens units in our bathroom (kitchen units adapted by fitter - looks far better than it sounds!). Very good quality and pretty cheap too.

Agree that its important to have someone good fitting them.

MrsMattie Thu 07-Aug-08 17:08:02

We've just had a Howdens kitchen installed. In terms of quality, I'd say it's exactly the same as MFI / Magnet / Moben - you're getting a decent mid-range kitchen, better quality than the flat pack Ikea-type ones but not as good obviously as a bespoke or handmade wooden kitchen. In fact, MFI used to own Howdens and it was their 'trade arm' I believe, so really no difference in them.

Price wise - for almost exactly the same kitchen, Howdens quoted £400 less than MFI, £600 less than Magnet and almost £2,000 cheaper than the supreme rip off merchants that are Moben! They also took £300 off the original price when they delivered the wrong cupboards (even though they redelivered the right ones later that day - that's the other good thing about our local Howdens at least - they stock everything on site, not in a warehouse miles away, so we only had to wait a week from paying for the kitchen to have it delivered).

Pannacotta Thu 07-Aug-08 23:18:05

wintera what is a drop down handle, am quite intrigued?

FluffyDavis Fri 08-Aug-08 09:17:06

The magnet showroom near us has a trade counter and warehouse out the back like howdens. My dh is a carpenter and usually uses howdens as they come out cheaper more often.
We have had two Howdens kitchens fitted over the years and were pleased with them. Its right about MFI having the same kitchens as Howdens with slight variations on the handles etc. Last time I got a quote from MFI they were quite unhelpful. They will not let you take a kitchen design home with you like the others.

overthemill Fri 08-Aug-08 09:24:06

we ended up getting our kithen from unpaintedkitchens and having it fitted by our builder. much cheaper and fantastic quality - also really individual. they will make pieces to fit your kitchen so no watsed space and tehy ar enot expensive copmared to flatpack. have an idea tehy are ex smallbone people? anyway £330 for a base unit
and bought oak worktops online

wintera Fri 08-Aug-08 20:50:23

I will take some photos of the handles and post them, as I can't describe them!

As for unhelpful kitchen places, what about the over friendly ones? I filled in a brochure request on the website of Kitchens Direct. Within a couple of hours I had a phone call telling me they had a sale on and did I want a rep to come out the next day to give me a quote! I said "No thanks, just send the brochure first please" the lady tried to persist and in the end I was quite annoyed.

They never did send me a brochure, and their persistant nature over the phone had the opposite effect on me. I was put off having a kitchen from them right from the start!

Piffle Tue 12-Aug-08 14:32:11

overthrmill would you mail meabout unpainted kitchens?

Mumsnut Thu 14-Aug-08 20:10:28

Our fitter gets 80% off Howdens units.

becaroo Fri 15-Aug-08 14:35:10

Ours is howdens...very pleased with it

TuttiFrutti Fri 15-Aug-08 15:24:09

Thanks for all the extra comments. I haven't met anyone yet who's not been pleased with Howdens.

A lady from there came round on Monday and I was very impressed - no hard sell, she just asked me lots of questions about what I wanted and she had masses of ideas too, eg how to use difficult corner space. She is going to do a design and send it to me (haven't had it yet though).

What I liked (apart from the lack of hard sell) was that I didn't have to wait around with her while she did the design on her computer, which is how Magnet operate - it took nearly 3 hours! Expensive if you are paying for a childminder (which I was) and totally impossible if you had young children with you.

I will let you all know how the design turns out.

MaureenMLove Fri 15-Aug-08 15:29:20

May I just add, that when you hand over your hard earned cash to whoever you choose, make sure you make it clear, in a polite and clear manner, that you are in charge and as such, you expect everything to run smoothly and without problem! grin

I did that to MFI, who have just finished my kitchen (yesterday!) and although we had a couple of hiccups along the way, everything was sorted to my satisfaction (including financially!grin) within 24hrs.

Take a look. Its on my profile!

TuttiFrutti Mon 18-Aug-08 18:07:08

Just to let you all know the prices: surprisingly, Howdens were about the same as Magnet. Howdens quoted £10,800 plus our builder's mark-up (he hasn't yet told me how much he'll put on but our architect says 15% is standard). Magnet quoted £11,300 for almost exactly the same thing.

So now I'm thinking of going with Magnet after all. Quickest they can deliver is 3 weeks time, which is not great, but I suppose it's worth waiting for the kitchen we will have for the next 10 years.

TuttiFrutti Mon 18-Aug-08 18:07:08

Just to let you all know the prices: surprisingly, Howdens were about the same as Magnet. Howdens quoted £10,800 plus our builder's mark-up (he hasn't yet told me how much he'll put on but our architect says 15% is standard). Magnet quoted £11,300 for almost exactly the same thing.

So now I'm thinking of going with Magnet after all. Quickest they can deliver is 3 weeks time, which is not great, but I suppose it's worth waiting for the kitchen we will have for the next 10 years.

Madblondemum Sat 06-Sep-08 15:45:24

All your reviews have helped to put my mind at ease. Went to Howdens and Magnet today to look at kitchens and talk through designs. Howdens couldn't have been more helpful (even though quotes and designs will go through our kitchen fitter). Asked loads of questions about what we wanted and went through options for taps, worktops etc. Magnet were the complete opposite, kitchen designer was rude and unhelpful. We liked the design he came up with and the discounts reduced the price ALOT but his attitude from the moment we walked in was that we couldn't possible afford a Magnet kitchen. His opening remark to my husband (College Lecturer) was "We are expensive you know". So thanks, but no thanks Magnet. Will let you know what Howdens come up with!

TuttiFrutti Sun 07-Sep-08 14:03:58

Madblondemum, I think a lot depends on the individual kitchen designer you get on the day. Mine (at Magnet) wasn't great, but it was the price and the fact we loved the look of the kitchen that swung it.

He's a friendly but incompetent 19 year old. We've already found 2 mistakes and our kitchen hasn't even arrived yet! They've been sorted out by the very helpful middle aged woman who works alongside the 19 year old, and who I wish we'd had dealing with our order from the start. That's life though...

Our kitchen supposedly arrives on Wednesday. I'll let you know how it goes!

wheredidyoulastseeit Fri 17-Sep-10 09:32:12

your information on this page great as i am currently going through the Magnet/Howden dilema.
I'd love to know where you got your knobs from though and does any shape and size fit any kitchen unit?

LJLKitchens Thu 17-Mar-11 10:53:40

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Celibin Sat 26-Mar-11 20:59:33

I was completely disillusioned with the ktchen industry felt so alone till I got onto your blog You are just great! I felt I was with kindred spirits and when I got to the Howdens Versus Maget debate I was thrilled You people have done more for me the consumer than any "kitchen profesional " could ever do. I thank you for your natural openess and honesty _ and I will always respect you for this. Any questions you have please ask. Basically kitchens are a necesiity so that is how the salesmen make a living how these companies survive I think if you go with the biggies they have to sort it out for you in the end but at what cost to your sanity? What concerns me is how the vulnerable like the elderly get by. They must do it with the help of their local trades people as the hard sell would go right over their heads. My story is this: a kitchen salesman sold me half a kitchen and then tried to sell
me other non-kitchen items as well. I complained and the company acted with great honour ; but the guy dealing with the complaint was a well-paid managerand still told me it was a good company You do not know they are good until they do the job. The managers do not actually know what we the clients go through so that is one reason there is so much trouble; they all need training to see the pictureclearly They want you to order a kitchen the next day and hand over the money as it makes life easy for them

Celibin Sat 26-Mar-11 21:21:37

One point about Maget; they belong to Trustmark a governing body so they have had to pass objective tests re competency AND customer serviceBut if it is so good why are the biggies not in it? Obviously they do not need to be
Trustmark members claim to sort out your complaints so it does not end up in court which of course is very good but their members still get a good deal as they get good publicity be joining I feel a headache coming on Good night

Connie05 Tue 17-May-11 23:05:10

We bought our kitchen from Magnet. Within a couple of years we had to replace the doors because the paint has cracked (shaker cream). This has been done on a number of occasions. When we had our home extended we discovered that their electrician who they supplied to do the works did not earth our kitchen (lovely combination of water and electricity!). When we challenged Magnet they were rude and dismissive. Only when we threatened to take the matter further did they agree to pay my electrician to do the work. Did we get an apology? No! Did they send anyone out to have a look at what we complained about? No! Makes one wonder if we weren't the only ones who had had a similar experience. Wouldn't touch Magnet with a barge pole.

DoctorWhoEver Wed 18-May-11 12:13:13

I wouldn't touch Magnet either - we had a terrible time with our kitchen - they sent out awful fitters - kitchen was very poor quality, the whole experience is a nightmare I'd rather forget - fortunately we were moving so I didn't have to look at it for very long.

Vix1980 Thu 19-May-11 15:31:34

Hi tuttifrutti, just a word of warning if the quote omes back as ridiculously high, you can still try to get discount from them by haggling, if they stall at a price and wont budge, go to a different Howdens, I didnt know this until i got my kitchen done but there all in direct competition with each other, your quote from howdens seems really high though -obviously i dont know what youe ordered but to give an example, ours from howdens was just over £2100 plus the £500 fitting from the builder. for exactly the same style of kitchen, no extras at all to howdens, magnet wanted £9400.

To get it this low i had 3 different howdens stores competing, but it worked and only took a few days to get a deal i was happy with.

tokyopen Sat 27-Aug-11 13:33:22

hi, just a little additional info re: Howdens, only quoting to trade, etc. We are currently beginning the process of selecting a new kitchen, and popped to our local Howdens today. The chap at the centre who helped us out could not have been more friendly or helpful and having been through this process with other suppliers before I am already inclined to just go with them - it's really nice to be treated well by someone interested to help answer your questions even when you are at the 'just looking stage'! Anyway, although Howdens do work directly with trade, we were offered the opportunity to set up a trade account with them, which means that we get the benefit of trade prices and they'll also provide us with prices and quotes directly. This may not be available at every Howdens, and we are in the process of doing up the whole house so it made sense to us to do this as we'll be buying flooring, doors and a host of other things as well as a kitchen, and could benefit from significant savings. It might be worth asking at your local depot, however. It costs nothing to set up an account and once it is set up you are under no obligation to use it, so can't hurt if the option is there.

tokyopen Sat 27-Aug-11 13:34:56

I just realise how old the original posts are - you'll hopefully already have a kitchen in by now!

mrsbleasdale Sat 27-Aug-11 14:30:36

I have had 3 quotes for our kitchen....wickes was the highest inlc fitting then howdens not far behind WITHOUT fitting ! I was stunned. Cheapest by several thousands is a local run family firm that has been in the business for years.

Firefly182 Wed 29-Aug-12 14:13:47

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