2014 – A Year of Changes…

2014 is not over yeat, but we can say with confidence that this has been a year of many changes in the European kitchen industry. Big companies are making big moves at home and overseas, long time players are leaving the industry and new ones are entering the arena, instead. We have also lost some companies, to the ongoing recesion, in Europe.

Here are some of the major changes in the industry this year, not necassary in chronological order:

  • The Siemens Group has pulled out of the industry this year. They will no longer be involved in producing appliances and their joint venture with Bosch is history. BSH (Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH, or Bosch and Siemens Household Appliances) has been the largest home appliance manufacturer in Europe and one of the largest in the world, since 1967, when Robert Bosch GmbH (Stuttgart) and Siemens AG (Munich) joined forces. In 2012, they posted 9.8 billion Euros in annual sales. Today, BSH operates 42 factories in 13 countries in Europe, the USA, Latin America and Asia. Together with a global network of sales and customer service firms, the BSH conglomerate today is made up of about 70 companies in 50 countries, with a total workforce of close to 47,000 people. In addition to the Bosch and Siemens brands, like are responsible for many other brands like Gaggenau, Neff, Constructa and others. In September 2014, Robert Bosch GmbH agreed to purchase Siemens’ 50% stake in the joint venture for 3 billion Euros. BSH to become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bosch Group and may continue to use the Siemens brand over the long term. The completion of the transaction is expected in first half of calendar year 2015.

Siemens - BSH no more...

Siemens – BSH no more…

  • Alno made several news stories this year – in the beginning of the year, Alno have acquired AFG Arbonia-Forster-Holding AG’s kitchen business which includes Swiss market leaders Piatti (kitchen producer and retailer in Witzerland) and Forster (Swiss Steel Kitchen). The acquisition means a major step forward in ALNO’s efforts to reduce its dependency from the German market that is dominated by purchasing associations, resulting in higher margins. Additionally, the acquisition offers substantial synergy potential with regard to production processes, purchasing and sales & distribution for the combined ALNO/AFG Kitchen group.
  • Next, Alno was able to win the three and a half year old court cases against them, by their former president, Jörg Deisel. Alno is getting back 2.6 million Euro, plus a few hunderd thousands   in legal fees, based on the German legal system. If lost, Alno would have paid, for both cases approx 6.5 million Euros(!)
Jörg Deisel loses case to Alno

Alno Ex CEO – Jörg Deisel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Lastly, Alno just announced a joint venture with PMF (Pervaya Mebel’naya Fabrica – First Furniture factory), in Russia – the two partners will invest €50 million in establishing in St.        Petersburg the biggest factory in Russia for the production of kitchen furniture (1,000 units or 100-120 kitchens per day). It will be located on the existing site of PMF, expanded with the areas purchased this year. Until the end of the year, the company will deliver Piatti production line from Switzerland.
  •  RWK/Kuhlmann Küchen (R. & W. Kuhlmann GmbH), formed in 1923, was taken over this year by the Chinese company Boloni Home Decor, a minute before filing for bankrupcy. Boloni was founded in 1988, by Frank Chai, from Beijingunder the name Kebao. They were bringing European kitchens and built in appliances to China. In 2001 the created a joint venture with Brescia based, Italian company Boloni and adopted the name. Most of the Kuhlmann-kitchens employees are expected to keep their jobs and the “made in Germany” is now to be marketed to the high-end segment in China.
RWK

RWK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Gatto Cucine, the Italian kitchen producer closed their doors in September. After 52 years in business, Gatto could not stay in business any longer. The compant announced that they are planning on continuing selling, outsourced products back in September, but that paln did not seem to come to fruition and the 114 employees were sent home.
Gatto Cucine

The picket line, in front of the Gatto factory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • According to our sources, Gatto Cucine is not alone. A few other Italian manufacturers that do not have strong export sales are also in trouble, mainly due to the weak domestic sales. Among them are Comprex and Bontempi.

It’s Getting Close to Showtime!

EuroCucina

Image from iSaloni, in Milan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Milan Kitchen Show

EuroCucina at iSaloni

 

 

 

EuroCucina is just around the corner and the excitment is building up by the day. Who’s in the show, who’s out this year and so much more, in the coming months. In the meantime, a new concept in salone, which is not just kitchens will be introduced this year -

A glimpse into how architects live at the 2014 Salone del Mobile

With just four months to go to the launch, the final touches are being put to the 53rd edition, which  will be held from 8th to 13th April. The focus is on powerfully emphasising Milan’s centrality and its unique position in terms of the quality of its design and furnishing at global level.

“The Salone is a valuable resource for the Italian economy,” said Cosmit President Claudio Luti. “Not only does it need to be preserved, it also needs to be bolstered with innovational services and projects catering to international business and client demand, in order to make the Milan event more attractive than ever.”

Works in progress for the next edition include the exhibition to be held at the Fairgrounds ?  a show  that will tell the story of the domestic interiors conceived and inhabited by top contemporary architects from several different continents: Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

“Where Architects Live” is an original installation, inspired by leading contemporary architects’ own concepts of the domestic space. It will be virtual progression through the buildings in which the architects themselves live, illustrating just what is involved in designing homes for the most demanding people of all ? themselves ? with the freedom to experiment with visions and language.

The curator of the event/installation, Francesca Molteni – who curated “Design Dance” with Michela Marelli (2012) and “A Celestial Bathroom” (2010) – has been privy to the private homes of some of the greatest exponents of the architectural world greatest exponents of the architectural world, filming the exteriors and domestic spaces and recording  an interview with each of them on the triggers, inspiration and choices that have shaped their design  and professional careers.  “The aim of the event”, continued Mr. Luti, “is to explore the art of living today, with a close look at  the people who are changing the face of our cities, the configuration of the global landscape and  the collective imagination, putting the spotlight on new ways of planning domestic environments from every possible aspect. This is the fundamental mission of the Salone del Mobile, cultural concepts that drive the sector.”

Who’s cabinets are these anyway…?

Did you know that just like the automobile industry, or the banking sector, kitchen companies (especially in Europe, but also in the US and other parts of the world) may actually be owned  by another company or are a part of a large group that owns several brands?

Why does it matter you ask? Many times it really doesn’t matter – companies buy other companies because it makes a perfect business sense. They can improve profitability through integration and reduce costs at the same time, thus improving their bottom line. But what if you’re comparing two products, that are actually manufactured by the same company, with a few minor details changed and are being asked to pay much more just for a name? Sometimes, it is even made in the same factory… Now you may be asking: “Why would a company do that?” Here are a few possible reasons:

  • Increase distribution – they can add more dealers, selling similar products, many times, in the same areas, with the same reps, without increasing overhead and without their existing dealers complaining about another dealer, selling the same product, too close to them.
  • Be their own competition – they don’t care who you buy from, as long as it is one of their brands…
  • Branching to another price level, that their present product doesn’t reach, without jeopardizing their present product sales and risking an image.
  • Rather than building a distribution for their existing products in a new country, acquiring another brand that is already being distributed and just adding theirs to the existing dealers network, can be an easy solution.

How is that different from a company that has different models? A company that has different models, is usually offering ‘good, better, best’ options, based on materials, finishes and/or options that are available in each model. Here, we are talking about either a) Products that are sometimes so similar, the companies can actually switch the brand plates on the drawers and we wouldn’t know the difference…; or b) investing lots of money in a fancy brand name, that could be nothing more that that – a name…

Here are a few examples:

The Alno Group

Alno Wellmann Pino Impuls Tielsa Star Beka Geba

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alno Group – a few years ago, it aquired the Wellmann Group, which years prior to that, aquired brands like Geba, Tielsa and StarBeka, to name just a few. There was so much overlapping in their offerings, that they ended up phasing these brands, one after another. A few years later, they were acquired by the Alno group and went through another round of phasing out brands. Still today, the group has some overlapping and in some parts of the world, they are selling a couple of brands, under the Alno label, though it is not an Alno kitchen…

The Combini Group

Colombini Rossana Febal Artec Salvarani

 

 

 

 

 

The Colombini Group, from San Marino – their deep pockets, allowed them in recent years to take-over struggling companies, like Febal and Rossana. They are now made, in the same factory and are pretty much the same product with quite a bit of overlapping in their offerings. Last year, they have purchased the name Salvarani, after the company went out of business. Why buy just a name…? maybe because the brand name is still so strong in some markets (like Spain, for example)…

Scavolini Ernestomeda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scavolini Group – few people know that Ernestomeda, is actually Scavolini’s higher end line. It was launched in 1996, is made very similar to the Scavolini product, with a few minor changes (mainly the doors) and is marketed as another brand all together, attempting to target a higher end clientele.

The above is very important to kitchen dealers but could also be very interesting to a consumer, who may be trying to decide between brand A and brand B…

Recession winds are blowing in the kitchen…

We already know that the kitchen industry is not recession proof. Though most companies have held up pretty well so far, we are starting to some some cracks in the road to recovery. Some are pretty wide and deep…

The companies who seem to be effected the most, by the world recession, are a few of the largest companies. Perhaps their sheer size, makes it so much harder to adjust to though times and make the unnecessary adjustments quickly.

If you look at the 10 largest European Companies, you can see the effect of the global economy – Nobia, the largest European kitchen group (at least in 2009), already sold off  Pronorm in 2010 and  is now reported to pull out their Poggenpohl brand from the up coming Eurocucina

 

 

 

 

 

 

One other German industry giant – the Alno Group, is also reported to be in rough waters. The ever so needed capital, from new Swiss investor, Mr. Max Muller is hopefully going to help the company who has reportedly have gone through several changes in middle and upper management lately and allegedly is in the middle of a pending law suit by the previous CEO over compensation.

 

 

In Italy, the recent bankruptcy of the 50+ year old Salvarani and the rumors of many brands in financial difficulties have the industry in buzz…

 

 

It will be very interesting to see what the Milan Fair  and the Eurocucina show will look like next April. Rumor has it that Cosmit, who is the organizer of the show,  is working very hard on convincing companies to return to the show next year.

 

 

 

SplinterWorks – Functional Sculpture

Formed in 2009, by Miles Hartwell and Matt Withington and located just south of London, SplinterWorks is one of the best examples of ‘applied arts‘ I’ve seen in recent years. They have delivered projects all over the world,  in the USA, UAE, Southern Ireland, Cyprus, France, Italy and even one in Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SplinterWorks have a particular affinity with developing work that re-thinks how we prepare, cook and experience food. They bring the activities of the kitchenout of the grid shaped room at the back of the house and into the living areas creating works to be enjoyed socially, physically and visually.

The art of kitchen design, by SplinterWorks

 

 

 

 

 

 

The majority of their works are unique commissions where every element, from the intended location and practical elements, to striking a personal resonance with the commissioner, can be considered and accomplished.

Concept of the kitchen design that turns into art Developing work that re-thinks how we prepare, cook and experience food.