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Demand heats up for luxury outdoor kitchens

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet reports record-breaking sales

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, the privately held Chicago-based manufacturer of luxury outdoor cooking and entertaining equipment, is seeing its best year on record, despite the recession and continued pressure placed onto the category by homeowner reluctance to make large capital purchases.

For the first three quarters of 2010, the company has posted a 46% increase in sales over 2009, and is tracking for double-digit growth over its best full year ever, which was 2008.

"At the high end of the market, consumers are being mindful of their money," said Pantelis A. "Pete" Georgiadis, president of Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. "They are making purchases that have the ability to add enduring value to both their home and their lifestyle. We attribute our strong growth to the non-consumable nature of our products, their exceptional quality and the fact that we offer the broadest selection of products in the market."

Georgiadis said sales of outdoor kitchens in the first three quarters of 2010 have already surpassed all kitchens sold in 2009, and they have become larger and more comprehensive. Sales are up 58% over the same period in 2009 and, more impressively, 24% above the same period in 2008, the company's best year on record. The average price of the outdoor kitchen this year has climbed by 30% over 2009. In addition to the grill, sink, standard refrigeration and cabinetry, specialized pieces of equipment, such as pizza ovens, lobster boil pits, keg tappers, wine chillers and weather-tight cabinets specifically designed to hold spices and keep food warm are increasingly popular.

Versatility and value gain importance
Consumers at the upper-end of the market are looking for products that have an exceptional value proposition, Georgiadis said.

"Homeowners in this section of the market want to invest in equipment that will help them express themselves and create the right experience for family and friends, matching their unique outdoor cooking and entertaining needs with the highest performance and durability," Georgiadis said. "Our customers are making an investment and are looking for a return."

There is an overwhelming desire for usability and versatility that is on par with indoor kitchens, Georgiadis said. With the increased popularity of the company's weather-tight cabinetry, homeowners are demanding that their outdoor kitchens perform as well as or better than their indoor cousins. "It's telling us that they want to store their cutlery, linens and dinnerware outdoors without getting wet, that they are not satisfied with traipsing into and out of the
house to set up their cooking and entertaining areas," he said.

The company's Hybrid Fire Grills are seeing strong demand over its gas-only units, out-selling them by 17 to 1. Homeowners are choosing to pay the hybrid price premium because "when a homeowner sees that they can cook with wood, charcoal and gas all at the same time in our Hybrid Fire Grills, the decision for them becomes quite easy," Georgiadis said.

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet is a comprehensive outdoor kitchen resource, offering Hybrid Fire and gas-only grills, gas-fired countertop pizza ovens, a 29-piece assortment of weather-tight cabinetry and a 27-piece collection of refrigeration and freezers, as well as design guidance.

The company hand-builds its Hybrid Fire Grills, pizza ovens and cabinetry in Kalamazoo, Mich.; its refrigerators and freezers are made in Milwaukee, Wisc.
For more information about Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, call (800) 868-1699 or visit www.KalamazooGourmet.com.

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