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The distributor puzzle

The distribution of furniture has always been a headache for publishers, manufacturers or distributors. How to manage inventory? How to choose colors? How to respond to orders up 20% despite confinement, the Covid 19 crisis and a growth rate finally according to INSEE of 7% for 2021. Attempts to respond by SIFAS, CFOC, MY Design and MODA International.

SIFAS and the logistics stock


The managing director of Sifas, Jérôme Armaroli, explains that he has always implemented a stock policy for rapid deliveries. The brand, originally from Cannes, which has existed for 50 years, has always been able to meet demand. The crisis that could have touched them at the end of the 1st confinement was limited to a slight drop, immediately resolved in March 2021 to rebuild stocks for 2022. “Having a high level of inventory is essential to supply a growing outdoor market, where sofas and armchairs move in one motion from indoors to outdoors. The passage from the living room to the terrace is done in the same spirit. Sifas has a logistics stock in Lille, 10,000 m2 hangar in Houplines, a small town (7,800 inhabitants) in Hauts de France, near the Belgian border, and the brand’s best sellers are the Komfy sofa by Eric Carrère, which offers six references available in three colors. It allows to make the maximum of combinations with the minimum of elements. It is currently the best-selling low-rise lounge in Europe in the premium high end after Dedon, Royal Botania, Cassina, B&B Italia and Minotti. Thanks to Ameublement Français/French Design, the battle for made in France seems won. Samuel Acoccebery was summoned to the Elysée on January 21 for the presentation of the “French Design 100 Award winners”, to celebrate alongside Emmanuel and Brigitte Macron, the success of French design, which can count on 1,700,000 craft businesses and 3.1 million assets. »

Portrait of Jérome Armaroli, CEO of SIFAS
Armchair © SIFAS

Sifas offers maximum customization with only six references thanks to a lot of work upstream on the design in the internal office which has three people and which carries out incessant and permanent back and forth adjustments with the designers for a delivery time of between eight and fifteen days. “The particularity of outdoor requires seasonality from March to July. The other companies have been overtaken by events. Sifas was able to anticipate the problem. With only 50 people in France but its own factories in China, Sifas can easily supply Europe as well as the United States with an offer in permanently stocked colours: white, taupe or grey. If a particular need arises, Sifas produces à la carte products in four weeks, which above all play on the quality of some sixty fabrics on a recycled aluminum structure. Everything is organized in advance to produce from two pieces to two hundred additional pieces, 95% of which will be delivered by truck. Because the future of design is freight and in transport, unfortunately, rail freight has been abandoned. Sernam, Gondrand, Shenker are the French transporters who try to avoid breaks in this thread of delivery of assembled furniture. For intercontinental transport, it is still the boat with a single station in Europe, next to Bremen, the modern culmination of the new silk roads. »

Outdoor sofa © SIFAS

Sifas has one goal: product sustainability. An aluminum structure lasts 20 years, whether painted blue, white, gray or with wood effect. Sifas protests against the deforestation of the great primary forests where teak and other tropical woods are cut. It posted a turnover of 10 million euros and an increase of 20%. The confinement gave people time to think about the many possibilities of using the outside, to make a veranda, pergolas or lodge. The market exploded in euros in front of a weakened dollar where it is no longer even the only reference in China. The latest BIG ROLL collection from Döppel Studio (Jonathan Omar and Lionel Dinis Salazar) should find its audience there.

A new CEO at the CFOC


At the CFOC, the Compagnie Française de l’Orient et de la Chine, Louis Desazars, CEO since June 2020, is working on the subject in daily reflection with its Creative Director, Valérie Mayéko Le Héno, and its Marketing Director, Chloé de Lamberterie , both in agreement to follow in the footsteps of the brand’s founder François Dautresme. This explorer returned from his travels, arms laden with stories and treasures that revealed the richness of tableware, textiles and the excellence and simplicity of peasant life. The Pierres de rêve collection takes the visitor to the province of Yunnan where the veins of the marble invite you to let yourself be guided by the fluidity of the waters. The collection of Valérie Barkowski based in Morocco, questions know-how, explores embroidery and trimmings or declines natural materials worked with Chinese know-how, porcelain tinted in the mass with a matte enamel.

Louis Desazars, CEO of the CFOC © Dean Kaufman

“Overall, the CFOC was spared by the Covid-19 crisis and had a very good year in 2021 with more than 30% growth compared to 2020 and 2019. There was no traffic growth but the average basket grew by double digits. The store is constantly updated. It serves as both a showroom and a sales area. The site was redone in October 2021 and thus allows the CFOC brand with its two boutiques on Boulevard Haussmann and Boulevard Raspail to take its place as a small player in the competitive world of tableware and decoration. It is also the opportunity to understand the expectations of the consumer, placed at the heart of the reflection. It’s a brand on artisanal luxury where we see the material with objects that have meaning and depth. The story-telling that accompanies it insists on sensory and natural materials such as Washi paper or Khadi cotton. The CFOC offers products that make sense, less industrial, with a return to craftsmanship, more sensitive things, less but better. The shop offers 1200 active references, objects within everyone’s reach.

Plate from the tableware collection © CFOC
Tableware collection © CFOC

The CFOC does not follow trends but remains faithful to its timeless and contemporary style, in line and with consumer expectations. Its loyal clientele from the 1960s has passed the baton to the younger generations. We do not make wedding lists but a personalized service with the possibility of embroidery on textile or engraving on lacquer. Our problem is that of craftsmen, delivering on time and avoiding bottlenecks. They lack manpower. You have to train, train and train. The Mandarin lacquer salad bowl is made in a workshop in Viet-Nam where expert craftsmen multiply the layers to obtain this unique and perfect shine. Céline Wright’s clouds in Washi paper, made in Montreuil, float in space. The crisis imposes new deadlines, sometimes three months, even six, even nine. But this is the minimum time for a quality product.”

MY Design, a family story


Former CEO of SAS MY Design, Marie-Line Salançon handed over control in August 2021 to her son Léonard. A family story… Immersed in design since birth, literally and figuratively, Léonard Thomas is a design encyclopedia who knows how to argue with his clients and praise quality design.

“With the Covid 19 crisis, customers needing to feel safe, we have decided to open our shop by appointment only. We offer them very flexible hours, every day of the week except Sunday. In addition, we offer additional services such as layout and decoration advice. To complete this system, we also travel to their homes to provide them with our expertise, help them choose the finishes and dimensions of furniture and lighting. To manage the growth in demand, we have just recruited two new employees and two work-study students, which allows us to respond to this development. Despite the current situation, our main partners have managed to maintain manufacturing times which, except in exceptional circumstances, do not exceed two months. We have a warehouse that allows us to store all the desired goods. The shortage was slightly felt on certain woods (such as teak) and steel naturally, but apparently our partners know how to manage their stock and their reserves. We always value designers. Know-how is not enough. You need a signature and it’s a real job. We always highlight the name of the designers, their creativity and their work”

Portrait of Léonard Thomas, Sales Director at MY DESIGN

“To renew the collections, we regularly visit the factories of our partners in order to see a preview of the new creations. These are favorite choices, but aesthetics and manufacturing must follow. A store in Paris is essential. In the digital era and sales on websites, our customers need to be reassured, advised and supported. See a sofa, try it out, look at the fabrics or leathers, get advice on the dimensions and know that we are there to manage the smallest problems right up to installation at the customer’s premises are important points. This can only be done with a showroom. Taking the time to receive is essential. We sell luxury products. a real service at the height!”

MY DESIGN furniture

At MODA, the store is the place


For Pascal Dessagnes, CEO of MODA International, bringing customers back to the store has always been a concern and “to be precise, demand has always been constant despite the pandemic and confinement. MODA with its specificities cultivates and develops an offer like at home with its products, its projects and its realizations of places of life or workspaces. This state of mind is found in the showrooms. Several elements must participate in the management of growing demand: a more rigorous and consistent selection of products, a more complete and more efficient service offer for our customers and a demand management process within MODA. Despite the current situation, this very special period does not impact delivery times, which are still around 8 to 10 weeks. But we ensure it thanks to a deposit of 2500 m 2 . For “metal” materials, we can note an increase in costs due, in fact, to strong market demand, leading to increases in product prices.

Portrait of Pascal Dessagnes, CEO of MODA

At MODA, the designer is an asset, a guarantee of product and service quality, a signature. With the same high standards, the same state of mind, our customers are looking for signature products, creative expressions, image vectors and the “designer” spirit. To renew a collection, we must anticipate market trends and support our customers in the selection of new products, publishers and manufacturers. A veritable research and production laboratory, the design office is at the heart of these permanent renewals. The management and application of new values such as ecology and eco-responsibility on a daily basis have a determining role. A store in Paris is essential because beyond the virtual, the web and social networks, it offers face-to-face pleasure “to try out a sofa, to appreciate its shapes, materials, softness or firmness. The store is the place, the space of their best expression. The link with the customer. »

Bénédicte Duhalde