UP from left to right Christian Turra (authorised signatory/marketing), Andreas Kautz (authorised signatory/Product development), Oliver Tysl (authorised signatory/Sales Director ) DOWN from left to right: Katrin Hübecker (CEO), Marco Hübecker (CEO)
Mr. Hübecker, on the table in front of us, Iies the new fleur ami catalogue 2017. I like it a lot, but what are you saying about your new catalogue?
I am generally never satisfied, but this is due to my own standards (laughs). Of course, also our catalogue 2017 is the result of diligence, dedication, persistence and detail work. The team has done a great job: there are exciting novelties, useful additions to our assortment and important improvements in different series, too. And we also shot fresh ambient pictures that will provide our customers with new inspirations.
When going through the catalogue I noticed that many pictures are showing novelties for outdoor spaces. This is no coincidence I think?
No, it is not! The common trend to move life outdoors creates a high demand for outdoor decoration and furnishing. So we present our outdoor series accordingly.
Yes, the new MODULO components are an ideal solution for outdoor spaces – in several respects. The planters or rather the base, are made of fiber reinforced natural cement that can be combined with the seats which are made of massive teak wood. So they are a weatherproof decoration and a seating option at the same time. Furthermore they connect two very popular materials – wood & cement – and enables a combination of the MODULO and DIVISION outdoor series as well.
Thanks to our close collaboration with our customers – especially our premium partner – we receive a direct feedback from private customers. And we always try to accommodate wishes. The new DIVISION planters are a perfect example for it and therefore we expanded the series by some popular sizes and shapes.
You also spoke of improvements? Which are especially remarkable?
Definitely the casters for the new, large DIVISION planters. Thus the planters can be moved easily and flexibly on terraces as well as in outdoor gastronomies – also when planted.
But you also revised the existing MOSAIC series?
An active product development also means an optimization of already successful series. Thanks to modifications in the manufacturing process, the popular MOSAIC planters can now be offered at more attractive conditions – without changing the extraordinary look or without missing the high quality high-gloss paint.
Mr. Turra, reading the covering letter I came across the photo competition. Can you give us more details about it?
The competition was created to discover how our products are decorated and planted on site – in gardens, on terraces, in living rooms, but also in restaurants and hotels. For all submissions we are raffling great prizes.
Oh, that sounds good! And how can someone participade?
Photos are an important topic in general?
Definitely! The ambient pictures in the catalogue give specific application examples and are an important selling tool for our customers. Furthermore we support them with photographic material upon request. And our ambient pictures are now also shown online with the respective products.
Speaking about your online shop… is there anything new, too?
Yes, indeed. Living in the digital age, in 2017 the topic digitalization is more important than ever. Retailers want an around the clock access to their customer account, they want to check availabilities and delivery dates in real time. They also want to use extensive filter functions and placing orders. Ideally, everything should work comfortably on the smartphone. Requirements have become more demanding, interfaces have become very complex. Real professional competence is needed! Therefore we now have our own programmers in-house, who constantly concentrate on the further development and who also relaunched our shop recently.
So the existing design was revised?
Yes, but that is not all! Besides the optimization for mobile use and significantly faster access times it was also very important to us, that our new online shop offers all technical requirements we need prospectively. For our customers, we want to provide more information around our products. This includes details about their weight and material characteristics as well as additional pictures, videos and suggestions for decorations. These are helpful services which must always be kept up-to-date!
I understand! So you are preparing for the future?
Yes and this affects many parts of our company. Currently we supply customers in 45 countries and in the meantime we also have a subsidiary in Hongkong, which supports the realization of many international businesses. As a result we do not have to process products through our European warehouse any longer. Now we can send them directly to international customers, such as a current major project in Qatar. We are now living in a global world.
That’s for sure! But you are not only manufacturing in Asia?
No, we are producing all over the world and many of our products are manufactured in Europe as well to be able to respond fast and flexible to the requirement of our customers. A good example is our PREMIUM series. We produce the high-quality series in Europe, therefore have a comparatively short delivery time and are very flexible regarding special colors. Just now, we received a major order from a customer who planned the greening of a shopping mall. In this object the fire protection class B1 is required. Manufacturing in Europe means we can meet those specifications on the highest level and can promptly and fully respond to specific wishes – depending on the requirements.
Which means, products can also be created upon customer’s request?
Absolutely! Meanwhile we can manufacture tailor-made realizing customized user ideas. Currently we have a customer from New Zealand who forwarded some design wishes from his customer for a major hotel project. After coordinating shapes, colors and materials the project will be realized by us.
That is really interesting! So, how does it work?
Our “mini-department” product development currently consists of three staff members. My right hand is a graduated product designer and another colleague is actually finishing her Bachelor qualification as an Industrial Designer. Both are drawing with 3D-programs. Thus there are hardly any limits to what is possible in Terms of customer’s wishes. To produce individual designs in series, a reasonable quantity is fundamental, of course. But apart from that we can realize almost anything if a customer hasn’t found the right one in our small assortment…(laughs).
You’re right. Having this assortment it should always be possible to find something. And the designs differ considerably from the well-known monotony?
Exactly! There are still too many similar products – not only in our industry. Take a look at the world of automobiles, or fashion or the furniture industry. Everywhere are suppliers who focus only what their neighbors are offering. In our small industry it’s still the same, but we focus on our own ideas. fleur ami® does not mean “me too”. We position ourselves beyond mediocrity and our aim is to be better in many disciplines. And our customers around the globe confirm us, because they are searching for exclusive products for themselves and their projects; the one red apple among the many green ones. And that’s why we are focused to create our own products. It starts with the product. And so it must be convincing.
Obviously you convince more and more customers because your assortment is growing every year. So you must store many products in your warehouse, right?
Oh yes! For our customers it is very important that we can provide the needed products short-term. Because of the large amount of articles we currently have a need for stock of more than 3.500 pallets and we come up against borders at our current location. Consequently we had to find a solution that considers our requirements regarding room capacities – also in the future.
I have already seen at page 10 in the catalogue that you build something in 2017?
Yes, some time ago we decided to build a new company headquarters. Recently the construction works started and our plan is to move into our new building before the end of March 2017.
That sounds exciting! Could you give us some more details?
I’d be glad to! We will relocate our headquarters from Willich to Tönisvorst, into the business park “Höhenhöfe” about 5 kilometres linear distance from the present site. Over an area of about 20.000 square meters, a new modern warehouse, offices and a 2.000 square meter showroom are currently emerging.
Oh, that is a significant enlargement of the showroom…
Yes, our customers will have the opportunity to learn more about our collection and to collect inspirations. And we also offer them to visit the showroom together with their private customer and to hold the consultations on site.
A great advantage for your customers…
Due to the size of our assortment we cannot expect our customers to store all products themselves. But we also know that even in times of selling online, a personal experience on-site to discover materials, sizes and haptics are important factors when taking a final purchasing decision. And furthermore in our new showroom we can present much more products than before.
Congratulations, there are many exciting projects planned for 2017!
That’s for sure. And we are looking forward to all the exciting challenges that will wait for us in the future.
The interview led Mrs Ildikó Schiller, TrendXPRESS with Marco Hübecker & Katrin Hübecker (managing directors fleur ami GmbH), Christian Turra (authorised signatory/marketing), Andreas Kautz (authorised signatory/Product development) and Oliver Tysl (authorised signatory/Sales director)
07.12.2016 - Mara Turra (Marketing & Communication) - contact: mara.turra at fleur-ami.com