Tom Dixon in Italy

If the global turnover of the British brand increased by 27% in the second half of 2020, Tom Dixon in Italy has even did better achieveing a growth of 40% compared with the previous year and tripled it in the last two years.

An exceptional result that saw both the English brand and us at TRJ – Tom Dixon distributors in Italy – exploit the boom of the Residential Furnishing and Lighting Market.

During one of the private moments linked to “24 Hours in Milan” event, Hoegstedt and Solca co-hosted a by-invitation-only talk aimed at institutional investors.  During his presentation, the CEO shared that in the second half of the year the company delivered a 27% year-on-year growth.  

Hans Hoegstedt, CEO of Tom Dixon confirms the encouraging results from the high-end furniture and lighting market, both in Italy and around the world.

April 13 would have been the first day of the 60th edition of the Salone, the biggest furniture fair in the world, if it had not been moved to September due to the pandemic. As Milan continue to be in lockdown, Tom Dixon’s CEO Hans Hoegstedt and renowned luxury analyst Luca Solca decided to send a message of hope to Milan and the design community by sharing some encouraging industry analysis of the home design market, with special focus on the high-end furniture and lighting segment.

Hoegstedt and Solca co-hosted a by-invitation-only talk aimed at institutional investors.  During his presentation, the CEO shared that in the second half of the year the company delivered a 27% year-on-year growth.

Hoegstedt, who joined Tom Dixon just two months before the beginning of the pandemic, admits that facing lockdown plus Brexit has been challenging. Nevertheless, he drove strong growth and significantly improved profitability with a strategy focusing on the brand’s most iconic products, designs kept fresh with “drops” of some truly extraordinary handmade pieces and some more accessibly priced accessories, a huge digital transformation and significant cost cutting. All this working closely with team, suppliers and customers to support each other as a community.

New BURST chandelier with FAT upholstery chair and sofa

Tom Dixon: A strong performance fueled by the booming home furnishing and lighting market and online

The underlying driver of the performance was the result of strong consumer demand fueled by the growing residential housing market as consumers took advantage of record-low mortgage rates.  In 2020, the US housing market reached record high levels in transactions (5.64 million homes) growing by 5.6% year-on-year alongside an average price increase of 8.4%.  This trend was also seen in Europe where the UK’s residential housing market grew by 17.6% in the last quarter of the year with an average price increase of 8.5%.  The rest of Northern Europe followed the same trend while Southern Europe saw slightly more restrained activity.

Data that make Tom Dixon’s success in Italy even more extraordinary.

Home renovation, DIY, high-end furniture, lighting and general interior design spending also saw a significant boost during the year. Also, Mastercard’s SpendingPulse showed more than 16% growth in spending on home furnishing, a 14% rise in home improvement with e-commerce sales up by nearly 80% on the previous year in the end of 2020.

2020 saw a huge shift to online purchases thanks to the combination of lockdown and millennials becoming the biggest consumers for high-end furniture and lighting.  Tom Dixon’s CEO says: ‘from the very beginning of the pandemic our team quickly embraced the new situation accelerating our digital activities: this opened up a world of opportunities and new innovative ways to interact with our designer community, our customers and our fans across the world. During the period, our online trading reached 41% in Europe and we achieved a 120% year-on-year growth with BEUT, one of UK’s biggest online player’.

The furnishing home segment has proven significantly more resilient during the pandemic and looks promising moving forward

The luxury and fashion expert Luca Solca says: ‘During the pandemic we saw a shift of consumer preference for the home versus other categories like fashion as you compare the different performance of the leaders in the fashion apparel INDITEX and home furnishing IKEA where the former was down by 27,9% in 2020 sales while IKEA only 4,1% despite its strong physical distribution negatively impacted by Government restriction during the year’.

Tom Dixon Italy

New HYDRO chair

Tom Dixon anticipated this switch and quickly generated demand also from more fashion-driven online players that quickly entered the home category.  Hoegstedt, who arrived at Tom Dixon from the fashion industry says: ‘We are increasingly seeing personal luxury brands strengthening their homeware business. I expect this trend to continue, both in terms of collaborations with design experts like us or trying their own wings directly with a specialized manufacturer.

Solca expects significant growth especially in the high-end furniture and lighting market, estimated at $126.2 billion, that today captures only 0.14% of the GDP in developed countries. Solca continues: ‘the spending in luxury furniture and lighting market is 61% lower than personal luxury goods globally and up to 84% in Japan and China. The growing export of luxury furniture was already evident pre-pandemic where exports from Italy to China grew by 277% in the last 5 years’.  

As the Asian markets mature, Solca expects that growth could be on the menu in China in the coming years opening a significant further growth of the industry.

A fragmented industry in need of further consolidation

In recent years, big leading American groups like Haworth and Knoll and private equity players like Investindustrial and Carlyle have acquired brands creating conglomerates like Lifstyle Design Group (Haworth) and Design Holding (created by Investindustrial and The Carlyle Group). But to capture real success Hoegstedt points to the necessity to further consolidate the industry that is still highly fragmented in terms of brands and distribution ‘we have accelerated our growth in China these last 15 months opening 3 new monobrand stores and we have grown our sales by over 50% but frankly we are still just scratching the surface.  

To seriously grow profitability you need scale and fully capturing the Asian opportunity requires significant investments: the high-end furniture and lighting market is still at the beginning of this process, especially compared with the personal luxury goods with giant players like LVMH, Kering and Richemont’.

Luca Solca concludes ‘the current home market boom may be the right opportunity for further market consolidation and productivity growth, to create a major inroad in the Asian market and significantly improve the profitability’.