Fermob: to innovate & to internationalize
In April, Reybier Bernard, CEO of Fermob, returning from the Milan Furniture Fair, the Mecca of designer furniture. For fifteen years, the company exhibits his collections. But beyond the commercial present on its stand, four people in-house design studio and house technicians have turned down the aisles, camera in hand. They came back with eight cents for tracking shots in this world high creative talents and lines tomorrow concentration. Because the value of Fermob, one of the pillars of its development, the bold design of its furniture.
Iron, a source of creativity
Bernard Reybier bought in 1989 the company installed Thoissey in Ain, a region of France. It manufactures furniture iron since 1953 and reduced to a workshop of 10, suffers from devastating competition from plastic. “What interested me was the whole creativity induced by a material such as iron. From the outset, the design has become an added value. ” This choice requires collaboration with external designers. Pascal Mourgue, one of the most industrial designers French side, who had already signed in 1983 the chair Silvermoon long collaborated with Fermob. Patrick in June also with the chair Facto 1998. Off to the Fair of Milan, Bernard Reybier also identified Harald Guggenbiechler who signed new models … We understand that sees pioneer, immersing themselves in exhibitions, competitions schools, to find “new blood.” However, its position in respect of departure: simple lines, accessible and non-statutory. What state in the time an image and brand.
Fermob has revolutionized the furniture
Around its internal design studio, Bernard Reybier also ensures look of a “broader creative sphere” involving fifteen engineers, technicians and marketing experts. The creative dimension inscribed in the DNA of the brand also involves the color. In 1996, Fermob upsets the small world of furniture, confined to green or white, featuring lime green, tangerine and vanilla. Then come poppy, black, eggplant … When in 2000, retailers (garden centers, stores, outdoor furniture specialists) bristle at the fuchsia, education and determination are needed to convince. Accompany, build loyal relationships with their network is actually a prerequisite for getting this message condition for innovation.
No place in supermarket
“Innovation must be backed by distributors, there must be arguments. That’s why from the beginning I took Fermob circuit supermarkets, there was no place. ” This commitment also requires accepting the risk and failure. In 1993, “Tutti Frutti” chair becomes, against all expectations, a commercial failure. And it will only fall 2012, two years late, that can be marketed chair Andrée Putman: some elements were found defective, not meeting the specifications require that the manufacturer is required.
12,000 chairs in the streets of New York
This approach leads quickly to the international Fermob. In 2012, the company exports 44% of its total turnover (35 million euros in 2011) to 36 countries, including the United States and Germany, two countries attractive for manufacturers of French furniture.
The strategy involves investing consistently and persistently country, mostly through trade shows, before turning to another: “We have to wait three years to be profitable.” The manufacturer has indeed in its catalog folding chair “Bistro” with lines dating from the nineteenth or mythical chair the Luxembourg Gardens reinterpreted in 2004 by Frederic Sofia. In late April, Bernard took off for New York Reybier for a project to store the sign.
These outlets exclusively Fermob, apply only a few very large cities in leading countries. After Paris, Munich, Cologne, New York was required. Established for fifteen years in Atlanta through a sales office, a meeting Fermob marked overseas and particularly in New York success: 12,000 chairs made in Ain discover in public parks, along the streets .. . Bistro chairs deployed in Bryant Park on behalf of the foundation kicked off this American onslaught.
This company operates in a free market world leader, but each geographical area has given rise to a leader, a potential competitor. Beyond its design and its “French touch”, the company relies on the “environmental” aspect to compete. The industrial process claims to “zero waste” Bistro chair is recyclable to 30%, “These arguments are,” according to the CEO. Remains a major challenge: the production for an outdoor environment knows the vagaries of seasonality: do not miss the boat on sunny days.
This requires an ultra fine control of deadlines and therefore production, and also justifies this production is integrated: it is one of the major pillars of the development strategy. However, the challenge becomes more complex for further afield. To invest more heavily in the Asia-Pacific region, where it makes a small percentage of 3% export, the company has signed an industrial partnership with a Chinese. Part of the range will be manufactured locally from a tool for the design which Fermob teams competed. Besides export Fermob turns to the professional market to diversify its business, and fits the standards of the hospitality industry. Today, this pillar represents nearly a third of its sales, and helps to balance its growth.
Fermob, whose capital is held overwhelmingly by Bernard Reybier, strongly embodies through him. He laid the groundwork for its development, inscribed in stone and its basic door again. He built a company of 200 people, located in rural areas and low turnover in its management of human resources. This strong incarnation can still be a source of weakness as leaving little room for others and ultimately threatening the sustainability of the company. Bernard Reybier is well aware that recently surrounded himself with two assistant general managers. He now wants to devote himself mainly to development. Without releasing his hunt for the design, his personal brand.
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