21 June 2024, 21:07
By Furniture News Oct 20, 2014

Jan Mentens outlines Natuzzi's next Belgian outing

Having returned to Natuzzi to develop its business in Western Europe, Jan Mentens is looking forward to presenting the company's realigned brand offering in Brussels this November. Furniture News finds out what visitors to next month's Brussels Furniture Fair can expect to encounter …

How does it feel to return to Natuzzi?

Returning to Natuzzi for me is like coming home again. I left Natuzzi in December 2012 and it’s great to be back!

I remained in contact with the company after I left. In January at the Cologne fair Mr Natuzzi talked to me about the new strategy for Natuzzi Editions, and after the show he contacted me to request my help with its implementation in Western Europe. His persistence to get me on board, together with the challenge to implement the new strategy, the good connection with the new CCO on board (Mr Marco Saltalamacchia, ex-BMW) and the passionate people in the South of Italy confirmed my decision to ‘return home’.

What exactly is your role in Natuzzi now?

In the new structure, I’m the new VP sales for the West European area, which includes five areas: Iberia (Portugal, Spain); UK and Ireland; France & Benelux (Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands); DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland); and Nordic (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland).

What duties have occupied your first few months with Natuzzi?

Firstly I visited the offices in the five areas to get to know the people, to understand the main challenges and their needs. I have also been spending quite some time at Natuzzi HQ to get an update on the collections, products, marketing etc, and to reconnect with all the people inside the company.

And last but not least, I started to visit the markets and the customers, especially in those countries that are ‘new’ to me, so that I can understand the mechanics and peculiarities of these markets.

What do you plan to bring to the Brussels Furniture Fair next month? What brands will make up the stand?

At the upcoming Brussels Furniture Fair we will present – for the first time in our area – Natuzzi Editions as a branded collection, with several new models, including the European launch of (fire-retardant!) fabric.

Next to Natuzzi Editions, we will be present with our extended collection of Natuzzi Re-vive, the world’s first performance recliner, with its innovative design and wonderful comfort – without any doubt, a completely new standard in comfortable reclining!

Will UK buyers in particular find anything new?

Absolutely! For us the Brussels Furniture Fair is a commercial fair where we focus not only on Benelux, but also France and – stronger than ever – UK and Irish visitors.

Thanks to my previous experience as director of the Brussels Furniture Fair, I’m very well aware about the importance of Brussels on a European level, and the changing situation in the UK in relation to Birmingham's January Furniture Show and May Design Series in London.

Furthermore, the UK and Irish market is growing strongly, which makes the opportunities for both the visitors and the exhibitors in Brussels bigger than ever.

The organisation of the Brussels fair strongly incentivises a visit to the fair for the main buyers, so I do expect the most important ones to be present!

Does your previous work with the Brussels fair help or inform how you approach this event in particular?

I have known the Brussels fair since I started working in the furniture business in 1992, but of course I got more insight into the importance of the fair when working there. For instance, I realised that the opportunities with the UK and Switzerland were greater than I thought before.

How has Natuzzi’s place in the fair evolved over the years?

We have been coming to the fair for many years, but were absent for a few years, because the distribution of Natuzzi Italia was in place in most of the surrounding countries and we decided to focus on the Cologne and Milan fairs.

We then returned with the Leather Editions collection, which fitted the commerciality of the Brussels fair much better.

And now, with the presentation of our Natuzzi Editions branded collection, I believe the match is now perfect – we will present a collection not only very competitively priced, but also with the added value of the world’s best-known brand in the business!

What are your thoughts on the company's new approach to branding Natuzzi Italia and Natuzzi Editions?

I believe this new strategy is fantastic and I would almost say it is a ‘liberation’ for both collections – it allows Natuzzi Italia to become a real premium Italian lifestyle collection that offers consumers a solution for their entire home. 

As for Natuzzi Editions, it allows consumers that are looking for a sofa to buy a very affordable and comfortable one with the additional value and assurance of a globally-recognised brand. It is an exciting proposition for our dealers – Natuzzi Edtions will create higher product rotation, and an increase their margin.

What are your thoughts on the adding of beds to Natuzzi’s portfolio?

I believe it perfectly fits within the philosophy of our total home solution for the consumer. Practice already proves that this can create extra sales opportunities for our stores.

Is there anything more you can share about Natuzzi’s development in coming months?

The implementation of our new strategy allows our dealers to choose within our brand the most appropriate collection in line with their target customer groups. For the ones focusing on a premium target group, offering home consultations and a total Italian lifestyle solution, there is Natuzzi Italia.

For those that are more into the medium commercial segment of the market, with consumers looking for a comfortable sofa and the reassurance of a well-known brand, we have Natuzzi Editions.

And on top of that, for dealers who also want to sell the most innovative and most comfortable motion chair in the world, we can add the collection of Natuzzi Re-vive to their store.

As you can imagine, the opportunities of this new strategy are massive, and the implementation is fuelling our growth by over 30% already in the UK this year -  and there is more to come!

And just imagine that, next to all these opportunities, we also have a Private Label division that is able to offer very big accounts products that are created according their needs and wishes.

This means that, no matter what price level or target group a dealer is focusing on, the Natuzzi Group is the only company in the world that can offer a portfolio of diverse and relevant choices!

Natuzzi will be present on stand 3-307 at Brussels Furniture Fair, taking place at Brussels Expo, Heysel between 2nd-5th November. For more on Natuzzi's brand realignment, pick up a copy of the November issue of Furniture News, which contains an in-depth profile of the company based on the visit to the company's Cardiff showrooms.

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