As long as the customer is set on falling in love

Andreas Zimmer, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter Zimmer + Rohde und Ado

Andreas Zimmer, managing director at Zimmer + Rohde and Ado

The market for high-quality home textiles is a hard-fought one. A small number of players battle for market shares all over the world, as well as for new customers and suitably qualified marketing agents. Zimmer + Rohde are amongst the leading textile houses in Europe and their takeover of Ado a year and a half ago was headline news. We spoke to the owner and managing director, Andreas Zimmer, about his collections, the future of textiles and the levels of enthusiasm amongst end customers.

After years of cheap goods, sector experts see a counter trend. Does quality now have a better chance?
With plain fabrics, products that are comparable, the price is, relatively speaking, an issue. But, as long as customers want something special, as long as they are set on falling in love, there are also opportunities for growth.

Are people becoming more emotional about their home environment? Are textiles being used more?
That must come eventually. If nothing else, for the very simple reason that a room without soft furnishings echoes. And everyone finds loud noise unpleasant. The same goes for lighting. On the other hand, it is more true now than ever before that “there’s no place like home.” The framework conditions are changing, the world is becoming more global, more hectic and more politically unstable. That all argues for a greater feeling of homeliness in the rooms we live in – and that means more textiles.

But aren’t fewer curtains being used now; aren’t windows being seen as more clean-lined and more ‘architectural’?
As always – it depends. If you take a look at the world’s best boutique hotels, you will find an enormous amount of textiles: big sofas, lots of luxurious cushions, carpets and curtains, which make it cosy. Nevertheless, there is more of a shortfall when it comes to transferring all these things into the home. Still, you can take it from that, that there is a need. And the fact that it doesn’t translate into what people do in their own homes is, then again, a question of the right sort of inspiration on the part of the retail trade.
That is why, at Zimmer + Rohde – and also at Ado – we provide support for the retail trade wherever we can: with advertising, marketing, sales support at the POS and all kinds of training.

You have an impressively broad range in your collections. No doubt, it is the influence of fashion that makes for permanent change. But would a narrower range – specifically, perhaps, for Ado – not lead to greater profitability?
Yes, as manufacturers, we shall be concentrating our energies; collections don’t always need to be so large. The Zimmer + Rohde spectrum is significantly bigger than that at Ado. On the other hand, we are a worldwide company. We have staff at 20 locations outside Germany. Which means that we are very much aware how very different the needs in the individual countries are. And that demands this huge breadth in our collections and makes it difficult to pare things down. Russian customers want glamour, North Americans want heavy curtains with opulent traditional patterns, the Chinese buy everything new after three or four years and German customers want to be able to wash things. On the other hand, Ado is positioned in the German-speaking world and Europe and, as a result, we face a much more concentrated end-customer base there. However, Zimmer + Rohde are much more creatively oriented and have to shine significantly more with their colours and patterns.

Which is your strongest market?
Germany has always been, and continues to be, our biggest market – for Ado that goes without saying – but it is true for Zimmer + Rohde, too. Europe is, overall, our strongest region for sales. I am firmly convinced that if our companies are strong in Europe, then they will be successful in other parts of the world, too. That also applies as much to high-end fashion as to expensive cars. If we succeed in getting it right for European tastes, then we also get it right for Russia, China and America.
As far as the future is concerned, we definitely expect additional growth in Russia, as well as in the Arab world and the Asiatic countries. Maybe we shall also manage a higher market share in the USA.

Is globalisation impacting on your products?
To a certain extent. But, in the end, we are, and continue to be, principally influenced by Europe. I am firmly convinced that this continent will still be leading the world in terms of design in ten years’ time and that the major impetus will still be found here.

Arnd Ziemer / Rita Breer

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