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6 business lessons from French furniture brand Gautier

The 55-year-old family-owned furniture store stands by these brand values, allowing it to stand the test of time and the changing tastes of homemakers.
By Sam Christopher Lim |

 

ALL IN THE FAMILY. From left: Dominique and Ginette Soulard, together with their children Valérie Soulard-Brin, Arnaud, Hervé, and David, run the 55-year-old French furniture company Gautier. Photo courtesy of Gautier

 

Contemporary French furniture brand Gautier recently opened its first store in the Philippines at Shangri-La, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. This makes the Philippines the 44th country Gautier is operating in, as it already has presence in Belgium, Indonesia, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom, among others.

 

With decades of experience in international markets, the 55-year-old family-owned furniture store has these “business secrets” to share with aspiring entrepreneurs.

 

 

1. Stay true to your core.

Gautier was built on the French notion of “joie de vivre”—the joy of living. Despite other French brands taking the haute couture (high fashion) route, Gautier has kept an approachable yet modern approach to its furniture design. It did not deviate from its core, and this helped differentiate it from other furniture brands, while delivering a consistent brand experience throughout the world. Despite keeping an open-door policy to suggestions, everyone in Gautier is focused on their core mission “to reinvent the interior design and the living spaces of both today and tomorrow, so that every day spent in your home is a moment of pure joy.”

 

 

THE LAB. The Gautier Lab tests out ideas for creating the furniture of tomorrow. Photo courtesy of Gautier 

 

2. Collaboration births innovation.

With over 950 people working at Gautier, with five global designers and artisans, collaboration is the key in bringing out the best furniture designs and innovations. Gautier continues to innovate by using digital tools such as enterprise social network Yammer, and by creating “The Lab,” a facility which allows employees to test new ideas and create furniture prototyopes.

 

 

3. Pay attention to detail.

For the opening of its first store in the Philippines, Gautier sent a team of three craftsmen and visual designers from France to spend a week in the country to help with the construction, installations, and set-up of the store.  Quite the investment, but it is a crucial part of Gautier’s process to ensure that the look and feel of the store is the same for every country, down to the smallest detail—whether it is the arrangement of the bedroom showcase, the alignment of the ceiling lighting or the tightness of every screw bolt.

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PICCADILLY BED. Patrice Gautier started designing bedroom furniture in 1960, believing that every child should be able to express themselves through their bedroom. Photo courtesy of Gautier

 

4. Design and functionality go hand in hand.

Beauty is in the DNA of the French, but Gautier makes it a point to create beautiful furniture that is also functional—starting with the understanding of basic needs, they then create furniture that looks good but also serves its purpose. For example, Gautier’s latest line of book shelves is a functional piece since it can be customized to practically fit into any room.

 

 

5. Businesses should be pro-environment.

Coming from the French town of Vendee, the Gautier family has always made it a point to take care of the environment—they sourced wood from an eco-sustainable forest long before being “eco-friendly” became a buzzword. And this paid off as more customers are now choosing brands that not only bring great designs, but also source responsibly.

 

 

6. Supporting your community is good for business.

Gautier prides itself in the fact that, despite its global presence, its furniture is still made in France and that all of its raw materials are from Europe., even if most competitors have started sourcing from China and other low-cost markets. These supplier relationships, combined with an efficient labor force, have allowed Gautier to keep its prices competitive.

 

 

Gautier is located at the 2nd floor of the Shangri-La, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. For more information on franchising, Francorp Philippines is organizing “How to Franchise Your Business” seminars for entrepreneurs on March 15 and April 13, 2016. For inquiries, please contact (+632) 638-3149, email info[at]francorp.com.ph or visit francorp.com.ph

 

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Chris is the senior vice president for marketing and strategy of Francorp Philippines; president of U-Franchise Sales & Management; and chairperson and director for special projects, ASEAN integration-Philippine Franchise Association.

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