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Kitchen furniture franchising over the borders


Vi è spazio per il franchising nel settore del mobile per la cucina? Michela Parziale ci ricorda da dove si parte: l'esperienza francese


The French experience

Schmidt is SALM's brand in the medium-upper segment and it is present in France as well as in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Italy, the Scandinavian area, Australia, Lybanon, Morocco and Russia. Actually, as far as exports of French kitchen furniture are concerned, Schmidt kitchens rank first. Schmidt’s franchising stores have operated since 1989, and they are now 273. To join its franchising network, Schmidt requires a personal initial investment of Eur 60,000. As franchisor, Schmidt ensures a basic assistance (i.e.: training lasting 14 weeks, help when recruiting, advertisement, IT assistance). In their stores, franchisees are required to adapt and boost Schmidt’s concept in terms of shop window, internal ambience, advertisement and promotion.

Mobalpa is the flagship brand of the French kitchen furniture manufacturer Fourniér. Mobalpa has also developed a wide network (281 in France, 379 internationally) of franchising stores since 1986. To enter the Mobalpa network, the company requires a personal capital of Eur 80,000 and shops from 80 to a maximum of 700 available square metres. Only in the last year 17 new stores were opened within this formula (however, 4 already existing stores had to close down). Employees for each store are about 4, covering an area of approximately 50,000 inhabitants. A typical unit turnover is Eur 1,300,000.

Joint venture in Germany

In Germany, so far the land of buying groups, franchising is also developing fast. Already some years ago Nobia (Sweden based European kitchen furniture giant) formed the joint venture Culinoma with the Dutch group De Mandemaker Groep Holding, with the purpose of developing a leading position within the kitchen retail market in Germany. Culinoma first entry into the German retail market has been conducted through the acquisition of all Plana Küchenland Lizenz & Marketing’s shares.

Plana owned the Plana Küchenland franchise concept with 38 stores, primarily located in southern Germany, with store sales of approximately Eur 70 million. The product offering consists of fitted kitchens, including all accessories and services. Plana's business model is focused on the franchise business and the provision of services and support functions to its franchisees. As recently announced, Nobia has divested its 50 per cent holding in Culinoma and it has sold it to its joint-venture partner De Mandemaker.

Ixina becoming an international brand

Italian market still lags behind when it comes to the development of a franchising network in the kitchen furniture sector. This is because the country is home to a huge amount of small - not specialized retailers, while distributors have historically been not very large.

However, the size of retailers has recently grown and for the smallest Italian distributors is time to look ahead: franchising seems undoubtedly to be a viable option.

Ixina (Belgian based, belonging to the Italian Snaidero Group) is actually looking also outside its borders. In 2008 Ixina’s business accounted for worth Eur 240 million, delivering approximately 33,000 kitchens through its 100 franchising stores and employing over 900 people. Ixina is now established in France and Belgium, in Italy but also in Spain, China, Cambodia, Morocco and Tunisia and, in the future, it plans to open stores in Switzerland and United Arab Emirates.

International alliance in the name of franchising

The Snaidero Group, 240 million Eur industrial turnover, plus approximately 320 with its Franchising Business Division (Ixina, Cuisines Plus and Cuisines Références), has now another important industrial partner like Nobilia, top German kitchen furniture manufacturer, that took a 30% share in FBD.

From a country-based format, franchising is now moving towards an international formula.


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