Review & Rating
800 Aviation Parkway
Smyrna, TN 37167
Franke Kindred Canada Ltd.
1000 Franke-Kindred Road
Midland, ON L4R 4K9
Franke Holding AG
Footnotes:1. The term "lifetime" is not defined. In such cases the courts usually give the term its normal meaning: the actual lifetime of the original owner.
This Company In Brief
Franke Holding AG is a Swiss company based in Aarburg. The Franke Group employs around 8,500 people worldwide and is established in 40 countries with 68 subsidiaries. For Franke, as for chief rivals faucets are a sideline to its main business, kitchen sinks. Franke sells only kitchen and bar faucets. It does not sell bathroom faucets.
The company was formed in 1911 by Herman Franke as a sheet metal shop. It did not make its first kitchen sink until 1925, but has since become one of the world's leading suppliers of kitchen sinks and the equipment that goes around them, such as faucets, ovens, vent hoods, and waste disposal systems. The company also manufactures food service equipment, beverage containers (including beer kegs), coffee systems, aerospace and gas turbine parts, and devices for disinfecting medical equipment.
In 1998 Franke acquired Kindred Industries, the Canadian manufacturer of Steel Queen brand stainless kitchen sinks. Franke still sells Steel Queen sinks under the Kindred name, along with accessories and a few faucets.
Franke's kitchen division, Franke Kuechentechnik AG, makes stainless steel sinks in Aarburg, Switzerland as does Franke-Kindred in Canada. Franke also gets some of its stainless sinks from its Chinese factory operated by Franke (China) Kitchen Systems Co., Ltd. But, some stainless sink manufacturing is farmed out. Chinese companies such as Jiangxi Zoje Kitchen & Bath Industry Co., Ltd. manufacture stainless sinks for Franke.
Franke does not manufacture any of its ceramic sinks. Many of these are made by Villeroy & Boch, the Saarland manufacturer of high quality ceramic products since the 18th century, now owned by the giant ceramics company, Eczacibasi Group of Istanbul, Turkey. Others are manufactured by Harsa Sanitaryware, Ltd., a subsidiary of of Israel.
Franke benefits from the inference that its faucets must be of superior quality because they are Swiss-made. But, in fact, while Franke may design the faucets, it does not manufacture them and only a very few are made in Switzerland — by another company — not Franke. About 90% of Franke faucets are made in China, up from 50% just five years ago. Import and certification records show that Franke faucets are made by an unusually diverse group of manufacturers, including the following:
At one time four Franke faucets were made by the upscale Italian faucet company. But, Franke has discontinued these models (DW0400, DW-480, FB-500, FB-580)
Franke changes suppliers with fair frequency, so by the time you read this, its faucet suppliers may have changed again.
Franke designs are often award-winning and widely copied. The company's cadré of industrial designers, Satyendra Pakhalé, Nathan Li, Luca Nichetto, and Constance Guisset, supplies Franke with a steady stream of innovative designs. The company also hires outside talent like Studio BGR a collaboration of designers Andrea Garuti, Manuela Busetti and Matteo Redaelli who designed the Chill-Out and Grammy faucets.
The faucets are good quality products. The company has rigorous quality assurance program in place which helps insure high quality faucets no matter who makes them. The faucets are all brass and stainless steel with higher end — usually Kerox, or Traenkle — ceramic valves.
The weakest feature of the Franke faucet line is its finishes. There are only three of them, chrome, nickel and bronze, while other upscale faucet manufacturers offer as many as 30 finishes. And, although Franke claims that its "[f]inishes are durable if cared for correctly", its warranty does not support its claim. While chrome finishes are guaranteed for the lifetime of the faucet, nickel and bronze are guaranteed for just five years. Franke should have more faith in its finishes. If its current suppliers cannot provide lifetime finishes, then perhaps it needs new suppliers.
On the other hand, Globe Union Industrial Group, for one, offers a lifetime finish warranty on every faucet it manufactures for itself, so the suppliers may not be the problem. Whatever the reason, if Franke says its finishes other than chrome will survive just five years, then we assume the company knows something about its finishes that we don't, and will take its at its word. We suggest that you think carefully before buying a faucet with a paltry finish warranty such as this one, especially as there are so many good faucets on the market with a lifetime finish warranty.
The Franke consumer website is colorful and dynamic — very dynamic — overly dynamic, but not especially easy to navigate. It takes several non-obvious steps just to find a faucet. You almost have to know what faucet your are looking for before you start looking. Once you find your faucet, the information about it is adequate, but contained mostly in a downloadable .pdf specification sheet that tells you the faucet's flow rate but does not disclose the faucet's certifications or the source of its ceramic cartridges. Detailed dimensioned drawings help determine whether a faucet is a good fit for your kitchen sink. We could not find an exploded parts diagram for any faucet, but, then it may be we just could not figure out where to look.
Franke customer service passed our basic tests for product knowledge and ease of use. Wait times were reasonable, and we received competent help with our purely imaginary faucet installation problem. However, the Better Business Bureau rates Franke's response to consumer problems at no better than a "B" on a scale of A+ to F. Franke is not a BBB accredited business.
Franke has recently bought KWC, an excellent Swiss sanitary wares company formerly owned by Hansa, a German company. KWC makes bathroom as well as kitchen and bar faucets, which may herald Franke's expansion into this area of faucetry. The companies should be a good fit. KWC could benefit from Franke's design expertise and distribution, and Franke will gain some excellent engineering and fabrication talent as well as a state-of-the-art Swiss factory. Franke will probably continue KWC as a separate brand, but merge distribution and after-sale support. Manufacturing will probably not be affected in the short term, but expect some consolidation over time. Franke may even begin manufacturing its own faucets in KWC's Swiss factory.
Franke faucets are expensive, especially for what are, in the final analysis, primarily Chinese faucets designed by a Swiss company.
Frank's prices for faucets manufactured by Globe Union are an example. They are considerably higher than Globe Union charges for faucets of similar quality sold as one of its own brands such as We don't see any substantial difference in durability, reliability, functionality or finish. Whether a Franke faucet is worth the much higher price because it is designed in Switzerland and wears a Franke nameplate is essentially a personal judgment. Our opinion, however, is that it is not.
We think equally good quality, well-designed faucets are available from companies that have the same design heritage and actually manufacture in Europe, including that, in the opinion of our staff researchers, makes a much better European faucet for about the same price.
American companies are also competitive in both quality and style, including:
These are often lower in price, but you will not get that quintessential North German look. For that look try these German companies:
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Franke faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.