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CLASS

The Italian furniture sector restarts from Shanghai with double-digit sales growth

May 29, 2020


Abstract : The market and the made in Italy demand have restarted in China. For the first time, Natuzzi will be presenting its collection in the Asian city, while Italian design brands accelerates in the retail sector with a local company.

MILAN, May 27 (Class Editori) -- "In April we recorded a growth in sales by 20% in China compared to the same month of last year," Stefano Rosa Uliana, CEO of the Calligaris furniture group, has explained; the group controls also Connubia, DitreandLuceplan, as well as its namesake brand.

China is reconfirming its driver role in the sector of the made in Italy furniture production, which is worth 27.7 billion, up to 42.5 if the wood-furnishing production chain is included; exports towards China amount at €440 billion.

"We had many stocks in our warehouse and despite the lockdown we managed to process all the orders. The Far East represents a key and strongly growing market for us: for this reason, we are planning to open a Chinese branch, a local warehouse, which would allow us to meet all the needs of that area and effectively develop the contract."

Calligaris, which closed 2019 by generating a turnover of more than €162 million, has opened a new store in Guangzhou in these days; other five stores were inaugurated in China last year.

Historically, Italy is the first furniture supplier of the Chinese market and the liveliness of the latter is also the key topic of the Salone del Mobile. Milan, after the decision of postponing the Milanese event to 2021, has confirmed the date of the Shanghai exhibition (November 25/27). The last edition of the event has been attended by 127 exhibitors, among which 25 new brands, and 20,000 visitors.

"The Salone del mobile of Milan is the clock which strikes the timetable of the furniture sector: in April we present the new models, between May and June we sign commercial agreements and then we work on new productions during summer in order to bring them in stores in October. This year, we have not been able to follow this path, but we could not stop and therefore we decided to break the traditional rules and restart from China," Pasquale jr Natuzzi, creative director & stylist of Natuzzi, has declared. The company recorded a turnover of €387 million in 2019.

For the first time in the Italian design history, the brand from Apulia, well-renowned worldwide for its leather sofas, has decided with a kind of nonconformist spirit to present its new collection in the Shanghai store with an event scheduled in June. "We have focused on China because it represents one of the most successful market for us: Natuzzi is active in 123 countries but more than 25% of volumes come from China thanks to a network made up of 60 monobrand stores, some of which are owned by our company."

This is a high-growing market and for this reason it represents an engine for the brand, which needs to be constantly powered. During the months of the European lockdown, indeed, some requests of made in Italy furnishing productshave continued tocome from China: "Satisfying these requests has been quite challenging, but it has also been a boost which has allowed us to keep moving forward. Aiming at not stopping the flow with the Asian market, the prefect of Bari allowed us to reopen the research & development area, as well as the productive one, already two weeks before May 4," as Natuzzi jr has concluded.

In addition, Italian design brands, a holding which recorded a turnover of 150 million in 2019 andcontrols seven companies, namely Gervasoni, Meridiani, Cenacchi international, Davide Groppi, Saba Italia, Modar and Flexalighting, has been controlling the Chinese market as a group for years, with a branch close to Shanghai which officially opened at the end of 2019.

"The Chinese market is somehow unique in the world", as Giorgio Gobbi- managing director of the group guided by Andrea Sasso and CEO of Meridiani- has explained: "first of all, in China, there are almost only monobrand stores, customers are digital natives and the second generation of wealthy people have unconditionally chosen the modern style and the design, unlike what has happened in the USA, for example, where the classic style endures".

Therefore, owning a local branch represents a closeness choice to a particular and potentially strong growing area. "After the lockdown we have understood that in China an important eventis going to happen: the enhancement of the home environment. This is why some residential projects which have been planned are now in a phase of full redefinition. Indeed, requests have already changed. For example, a space for the home office, which did not exist before, must be designed".

Despite the stores have not experienced a revenge spending after the reopening, the Chinese market has promptly well answered thanks to the network of local partners and customers. "The furniture sector can restart from China with no doubt, which is now ready and within a few years will represent the main source of growth for the sector. In Europe, there will be a retail recovery while,there,the focus will be more on residential projects".

The group, after having laid the basis on site with a branch and five monobrand stores (four of Meridiani and one of Gervasoni), is planning other openings for Gervasoni and new branches for Saba, in 2020.

(Source: Class Editori)

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Keyword: Natuzzi Calligaris furniture group

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