"Only those who are on fire themselves can ignite others!"

Interview with Stephan Burghard and Florian Burghard, Managing Directors of Sompex Import and Export Trading Company mbH

Sompex Floor Lamps
The mission of Sompex: aesthetic and sustainable lighting

Especially in the dark season, attractive table and floor lamps are in high demand – and thus the family business Sompex, now 75 years old, which develops and distributes corresponding products both under its own brand name and for Villeroy & Boch, Musterring, and Leonardo.

Wirtschaftsforum: Mr. Burghard, recently one of your products was named "Lamp of the Year" for the second time in a row. What is the secret to Sompex's success?

Stephan Burghard: My cousin and I have been running the company in the 3rd generation and thus can draw on a grown experience as lighting specialists. At the same time, we have repositioned ourselves in many ways over the last five years as part of a profound restructuring process and now focus more decisively than before on our strengths, which clearly lie in modern living room lighting, where we have made a name for ourselves across Europe with powerful and attractively designed table and floor lamps. Against this background, we have also separated from some previous activities – for example, we used to offer gift articles and at times appeared as the largest provider of LED candles in Europe.

Stephan Burghard, Managing Director of Sompex Import and Export Trading Company mbH
Stephan Burghard, Managing Director
Florian Burghard, Managing Director of Sompex Im- und Export Handelsgesellschaft mbH
Florian Burghard, Managing Director

Wirtschaftsforum: How does Sompex differ from its competitors?

Stephan Burghard: A key factor in our sustained success is definitely that we develop our entire product range ourselves. So, we don't just purchase goods from China, but instead collaborate closely with a team of external designers. As a result, from the initial draft through to manufacturing in factories in Asia and onto distribution, every essential stage of the value chain remains in our hands. Moreover, we have also been able to acquire profound expertise in the licensing business. Thus, we develop and sell lamps under our own brands Sompex and Newdes, as well as for Villeroy & Boch and Musterring – and in 2024, we will be able to add another beautiful brand, Leonardo, to our portfolio.

Sompex Awards
In 2023, Sompex products were able to win 5 awards

Wirtschaftsforum: The concept that you aim for with your own brand Sompex is often described with the slogan "Design for Life" – what is the requirement behind this goal?

Florian Burghard: Of course, we too follow trends and observe consumer preferences with a very keen eye. However, our goal is always to ensure that our products remain relevant and popular over the long term. Of course, Sompex does not only produce timeless classics – still, we want to offer consumers lamps that they will enjoy for a long time and sustainably.

Sompex Floor Lamps
"We will not run out of creative ideas," Florian Burghard is convinced

Wirtschaftsforum: What role does sustainability play in your company?

Florian Burghard: Here, we have various levers at our disposal: For instance, for the past three years, we have been making almost all of our packaging from sustainable materials and, instead of the previous plastic elements, we use filled textile pouches that have been recycled from PET bottles and thus become part of a cycle again, while we have switched exclusively to paper instead of Styrofoam for the filling material in our packages. We are now manufacturing our lights as much as possible from recycled aluminum and take their eventual end of life into account right from the design process – then they can be easily dismantled by the user before the individual components can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. Sompex already complies today with the respective regulations that the European Union will make obligatory for 2027.

Sompex Production
From design to manufacturing to distribution, every step remains in the hands of Sompex
Sompex Production
Especially during the Christmas season, there is a boom at Sompex
Sompex Production
Sompex also develops and distributes lights for Musterring as well as Villeroy & Boch – and the next brand is already waiting in 2024

Wirtschaftsforum: What measures have been the focus in restructuring Sompex in recent years - and how have you motivated the people in the company to embark on this journey with you?

Florian Burghard: By now, we develop all our products ourselves and no longer purchase any items externally - this was certainly a particularly significant strategic decision to be able to continuously leverage our quality promise and our design strength. At the same time, we also made some changes to our sales structures and carefully screened which customers from the specialized trade and online retail segment we want to work with in the long run. As a company offering attractive interior design items, we were able to record strong growth during the pandemic, which also resulted in our workforce growing by about a third during this time - we are very pleased with the new impulses that have come into the company, as well as our long-standing employees who continue to support us with their expanded know-how. Here, the enthusiasm of us as managing directors also plays a crucial role in daily business - because only those who are passionate about their products and their company can inspire others. That's why we are also regularly on-site in all departments to be able to determine firsthand where there is further potential for improvement.

Wirtschaftsforum: Do you have a personal favorite lamp from your range?

Florian Burghard: I find it particularly beautiful and fulfilling to see my own creations in the windows when I drive through the city in the evening: for example, our Christmas tree Pine and our star Lucy. And yet, neither of them is even close to being our bestseller!