Furniture design studios took part in a workshop on how to access the European market

The online workshop was led by Manuel Vizcaino, the business developer of several renowned international brands.
Publication date: 07/05/2020

Uruguay XXI, the agency that promotes investment, exports and country brand, organized a workshop for furniture design companies, together with the Chamber of Design of Uruguay (CDU). The activity was aimed at helping companies reach the European market, within the framework of the economic impact caused by the spread of COVID-19.

The business developer of several international brands, Manuel Vizcaíno was in charge of explaining the main keys to understanding the A&D industry in Europe. He also had the chance to explain the business models and shared some good business practices with the audience.  

Watch the full workshop here

The course was aimed at providing guidance to designers to serve the retail and contract markets independently. To achieve this, it is necessary to offer a high-quality product, with reasonable production costs and delivery times, as well as competitive prices that do not affect profits.

According to Vizcaino, the contract market for furniture and accessories in the United Kingdom and Ireland is estimated at 2.3 billion euros a year at retail prices, with hotels representing almost 50% of the demand. There are approximately 500 furniture and lighting companies operating in this market segment, he reported.

In Europe, this market involves about 90,000 people and various types of products, from upholstered furniture to seats, lamps, office and bathroom furniture for hotels, restaurants, bars, real estate markets, educational centers, airports, hospitals, cruise ships, yachts, among others. Successful products must be accessible and easy to produce in time and cost, he said.

Vizcaino recommended maintaining a cordial and clear relationship with the contract dealer, the person who is going to buy the product, that will be in charge of the installation and after-sales service. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the most important players are Forza, Coexistence, Conran+Contracts and W2W.

In the trading process, it is essential to pay attention to the content of the documents so that you are able to quote the product. The offer must include the description of the item and the quantity, the recommended retail price and exclude VAT (a tax that varies according to the country).

It is important to detail the information that may affect the price and profit. Some of the things that should be noted are the type of currency, if the delivery to the registered warehouse is included, whether the product is to be delivered to a private address, the type of packaging and packing that the product requires (depending on the means of shipment and delivery time), among others.

In the case of Uruguay, Vizcaino recommends excluding from the price the delivery costs applying the "300% law", in order to include profit and production costs. In addition, it is essential to take into account each country's taxes, as well as to comply with the United Kingdom regulations on furniture and accessories, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Studios must provide a coherent story that describes the brand and its designers: their inspiration, their philosophy, their values and their heritage. In short, what sets them apart and gives the products extra value. "The best way to sell a product is to make the customer fall in love with it in a romantic way," Vizcaino said.

Manuel Vizcaino is a seasoned business development manager with extensive experience in the furniture design industry. His skills include negotiation, retail and wholesale, as well as management and professional administration of architectural and interior design works for commercial and residential spaces.