Designed between the USA and Asia

Design between the USA and Asia & nbsp;
Daniel Lalonde (courtesy Design Holding)

It was one of the most anticipated IPOs in Piazza Avari, but the geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty, which has roiled markets so much, has put a 2022 listing plan on hold for Design Holding, the investment- and Carlyle-funds-controlled group that brings together a dozen high-end furniture design brands. (B&B Italia, Maxalto, Azucena, Arclinea, Flos, Louis Poulsen, Fendi Casa, Menu, Lassen and Lumens). A young mole on an accelerated growth trajectory for almost a year with the appointment of CEO Daniel Lalonde, a well-known manager in the luxury sector, adoring Italy and already world number one Moët & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Ralph Lauren and before that President and CEO of Lvmh for watches and jewelry. However, the project has only been postponed, Lalonde reassures: «It is not the right time, but as soon as the market changes, our shareholders will return to looking at possible transactions in the capital market. Also because the company is ready, we are doing well and we have a solid plan and great ambitions for the future.”

The growth trajectory is evidenced by the data for the nine months, which show an increase of 16.7% in turnover compared to the same period in 2021, with a turnover of 637 million euros. «This result was achieved thanks to the distribution strategies of the brands in which we continue to invest, such as e-commerce, which recorded a growth of 43%, retail Dos (stores operated directly by them) up 35% over 2021 (in major cities such as London, Paris, Milan and New York, so) ». The figures are also the result of markets that decide to assign an important role for future plans: America, with an increase of 35.8% year-on-year, and Asia-Pacific (+31.7%), a region in which all countries recorded double-digit growth, from Japan (+29%) ) to Korea (+22) to China (+37%). In terms of margins, too, Design Holding has been able to resist the impact of increases in raw material prices and energy costs, not only thanks to the ability to partially offset the cost increases. «Although Design Holding is aware of the impact of the increase in inflation (the increase in costs is estimated at about 6-8%, so), the group was not overly affected by the consequences, ”explains Lalonde. “Our supply chain, from factories in Italy, Spain and Denmark to shops, continued without problems, thanks to local purchases that did not suffer major logistical disruptions,” the director continues.

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Bolstered by a business capable of growing in the current context, Design Holding aims to continue according to the guidelines of a five-year growth plan based on four pillars: Increasing brand desirability by looking to innovation and developing new technologies (approximately 2% is invested in research and development); promotion of the direct-to-consumer route thanks to the Internet and Dso; Development of international expansion with an emphasis on North America and Greater China (but without neglecting other Asian markets such as Korea, Japan and the Middle East); Expanding high-end contract business. “My main ambition for Design Holding is to create strong, global, iconic and desirable brands,” asserts Lalonde, setting the goal of “becoming a leader in the field of high-level design.” In effect, the strategy involves a “closer and more direct relationship with consumers” both online and online through e-commerce. All without forgetting the role played by M&A. “The merger and acquisition activity is part of our strategy: today we have 10 brands of which 3 were added in the last year,” says Lalonde, explaining that “the ideal option is to add a brand every 12-18 months, that is, to complement others and with which we can create value.” To create a global brand. There is no general rule », defines Lalonde, who nevertheless describes the identity of the potential prey: « A group that allows entry to a new market or adds a product line, with a turnover of between 50 to 100 million and above that is scalable, because Design Holding is exposed to all markets and online, so we should have the potential to achieve sales from 50 to 200 million ». A concept closely linked to product innovation, from design to production, also because, as Lalonde concludes, “sustainability is ingrained in the things we produce, designed to last over time, while maintaining aesthetics and functionality.” (All rights reserved)

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