Poltrona Frau Expects Haworth Deal to Boost North American Sales

Poltrona Frau SpA (PFG), the Italian maker of Cappellini and Cassina furniture, expects revenue in North America to “increase significantly” this year following a distribution deal with office specialist Haworth Inc.

Poltrona Frau agreed last month to sell its chairs and other products in the Holland, Michigan-based furniture retailer’s dealerships in the U.S. and Canada. The Italian company, which gets about 7 percent of sales in the Americas, said at the time the deal would generate at least $20 million of additional revenue in the next five years

“Even before this agreement, our business in North America was up 25 percent this year,” Chief Executive Officer Dario Rinero said in a phone interview. “I expect this partnership will increase significantly this trend.”

Revenue this year at the Turin-based maker of leather and ash wood desks has risen more than 40 percent in Asia and about 7 percent or 8 percent in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, its biggest region, Rinero said. Sales in France, Switzerland and the U.K. are showing “nice growth” while Italy “is up about 3 points,” he said.

Poltrona Frau, which gets 98 percent of North American revenue from residential sales, tends to sell only to the executive floors of office buildings, Rinero said. By joining forces with closely held Haworth, whose movable walls, desks, filing systems, tables and lighting cater to the general workplace, Poltrona Frau can broaden its reach, he said. Haworth, meanwhile, will be able to extend its offer to lobbies, cafeterias and executive areas, CEO Franco Bianchi said.

The companies may expand the deal to other countries and it could lead to “co-development and licensing” projects in the future, Bianchi said. “We are very optimistic about the opportunities that we will discover together,” he said, adding Haworth doesn’t plan to take a stake in Poltrona Frau.

Haworth reported sales of $1.21 billion in 2010. The company, which has more than 600 dealers worldwide, is growing “in line“ with the U.S. furniture market, where sales are rising about 20 percent, Bianchi said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Roberts in Paris at aroberts36@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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