British kitchen retailer opens first U.S. location in Milford

MILFORD — Wren Kitchens has landed in America. The 10-year-old United Kingdom kitchen retailer has just opened its first store in the United States — and it’s right in Milford at 1522-1524 Boston Post Road.

The Milford store marks the retailer’s 100th location, and, at 30,000 square feet of showroom, it’s the largest of all Wren Kitchens’ stores anywhere in the world. The Milford store is in the location of the former Babies-R-Us.

“We’ve invested over $3 million in our new showroom here,” said manager David DeCicco, adding the business also has opened a new factory in Pennsylvania.

According to DeCicco, Connecticut was chosen as Wren’s first U.S. location because of long-standing roots founder Malcolm Healey has to the state.

“He owned a home in Connecticut,” DeCicco said.

Connecticut is also appealing because the amount of renovation activity in the state has been high, DeCicco said.

“For many years, we were losing residents, but we have a lot of remodelers,” he said. “People in Connecticut like to upgrade the home that they stay in. Others are building apartment complexes or condominiums.”

There also is a big house-flipping industry in the state. Flipping is when one purchases a rundown, outdated home, and updates it with the goal of selling it and making a profit.

Additionally, due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, DeCicco said people are now moving back to the state.

“Often, (people are moving) up from New York City, we’re seeing a lot of new home-ownership,” he said.

Kitchen remodeling is a frequent upgrade to new homeowners because that is where they tend to spend the most time, DeCicco said.

“The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where the entire family can sit and experience each other while eating, while doing homework, while having a cocktail, while diving into ice cream,” he said.

Wren’s showrooms have 100 full-size sample kitchens and offer a virtual reality room where shoppers can see their dream kitchen in three dimensions through a headset. They have the ability to reach out and open cabinets and drawers, to move around an island and to experience their new kitchen in virtual reality, DeCicco said.

When comparing the tastes of customers in the U.S. with those in the U.K., he said there’s a larger market for modern and industrial-style kitchens in the U.K., but Americans are becoming more experimental and exploring options such as different handles and two-tone cabinetry.

“Connecticut homeowners are starting to experiment with different colors and more exciting, nature-inspired finishes, such as a concrete style countertop or a copper-styled door,” he said.

Wren will open a second Connecticut location in Newington early next year. By in early 2021, the company plans to open three stores on Long Island, with the first in Levittown. Many more will follow, DeCicco said.

“By the end of 2021, we hope to have seven showrooms in the U.S., with 700 being the goal over the next 15 years,” DeCicco said.