Dansani was founded in 1983 by Thomas Bjerrum, who developed the company into a leading brand in the bathroom sector in Denmark and the Nordic countries. In 2008 it was taken over by the current CEO, Carsten Friis, with the aim of increasing the company’s international activities.
“It was not a good time to be taking over a company and launching an ambitious new strategy,” recalls Mr. Friis. “I took over on July 1, and the full force of the financial crisis hit two months later.” Fortunately, the company was debt-free with a strong financial base so that it was not as hard hit by the sudden lack of liquidity in the market as some of its competitors. “It was a challenging time for us, but we were soon back on track, having implemented a number of measures created to boost sales.”
The key to Dansani’s successful growth has been its focus on improving its service to customers. This involved taking the bold step of investing in inventory during the downturn so that it could deliver goods quickly to customers when demand started to recover.
“We increased the amount of furniture we kept in stock and were able to fill customer orders as soon as they came in. This put us in a good position to acquire new business from competitors who had dialled back production during the slump.” Another advantage of this approach was that it kept the company’s suppliers ticking over while they waited for the market to recover.
Although Dansani designs all of its furniture in-house and also carries out the assembly of the individual components, their manufacture is contracted out to third-party suppliers. With an intact supply chain, Dansani was ideally positioned to capture new business as dealers started ordering again.
At the same time as it was anticipating the coming market recovery, Dansani was also cutting the dead wood from its operation in order to streamline its cost structure.
“Our strategy was to focus on what we were good at and the areas of our business that were successful, and pull investment out of areas that were not doing so well and wait for better times,” explains Mr. Friis. “That meant pulling out of markets where our share was low and shelving further international expansion until the markets were more favourable. As a strategy, it worked very well, and we actually grew the company throughout the years of the crisis, with 2011 and 2012 being extremely good years.”
Dansani generated turnover of 50 million EUR in 2012 with a workforce of 220 people. Sales are focused in the main on Norway, Sweden, Germany and Denmark, but the company is also active in the UK, Holland, Austria, Finland, France and Russia, and is also looking at breaking into Eastern Europe in the future.
Dansani’s success, of course, is put down to its ability to supply a product that its retail partners are able to sell to their customers. The product range is divided into five distinct furniture series. The company’s best-selling line is Luna, which is a flexible range of washstands, mirrored cabinets and storage cabinets aimed at families with children.
A broad range of cabinet sizes and front finishes makes it easy to find a solution for any size or shape of bathroom. The bathrooms in the Dansani Curvo range feature elegantly curved corners for a softer finish. Dansani Zaro is aimed at the luxury end of the market and stands for eye-catching, exclusive designs that use innovative materials in new and thought-provoking ways.
Through the innovative and daring use of unusual materials and finishes, this range is at home in any contemporary setting. For bathrooms where space is at a premium, Dansani Mido offers bathroom cabinets and washstands with reduced depth that have been specifically designed to fit into the smallest spaces without appearing clunky.
The latest product line in the range is Dansani Calidris, which was launched in January of this year and features the best in Danish design. “We have based Dansani Calidris on classic Danish design, uniting design and functionality in one,” says Mr. Friis. “It offers quality without compromises and allows customers to create unique bathrooms based on its modular design.”
In recent years the prevailing trend has vacillated between straight lines and curves. Dansani embraces both while making sure that it adapts to the needs of its clients and does not lose sight of functionality.
“Some bathrooms are a triumph of style over substance, and although they look amazing when photographed for a magazine, they are utterly impractical in everyday use. We try to focus on what role the bathroom is required to fulfil, what the customer actually needs, whether that be bags of storage, atmospheric lighting or electric sockets integrated into the cabinets,” describes Mr. Friis. “Our designers are highly experienced in both the aesthetic and functional aspects of bathroom planning and seek to realize modular design series that will not only work in real spaces but also enhance their appearance.”
Dansani sells to bathroom dealers, fitters and DIY chains, and supports its customers with marketing materials and brochures. “We also supply display bathrooms so that end consumers can get a feel for how their bathroom will look,” Mr. Friis notes.
A display suite is a powerful tool when it comes to selling a lifestyle product such as a bathroom. Orders placed with a dealer are usually delivered within a week for installation by a professional fitter or the end user himself.
Dansani launches its new bathroom collections featuring new shapes and materials at various European trade fairs aimed at the bathroom and interior design sector. The company exhibits at the ISH in Frankfurt, held every two years, and also at fairs in Nuremberg and Essen, Germany.
The German market is particularly important, but Dansani is increasingly looking to Eastern Europe to boost sales. “We are currently looking at opportunities in Poland, the Czech Republic and Russia,” says Mr. Friis. “We are even looking at other overseas opportunities and have built up contacts as far away as New Zealand.”
One of Dansani’s key strengths is the speed of its deliveries. “We offer a very high standard of service to our customers and have succeeded in streamlining production to achieve significant improvements in efficiency and thereby cost reductions,” adds Mr. Friis. “Our target for the coming years is to achieve a similar feat in the markets in which we are active. We can only do this by ensuring satisfaction throughout the chain.”
The company has set itself a turnover target of 80 million EUR within the next five years; however, money in itself is not its only goal.
“Dansani was built on solid values of joy, respect and courage,” says Mr. Friis. “If you apply those to the way we do things, then you have an accurate description of Dansani’s corporate culture. This philosophy can be traced back to the company’s founder, Thomas Bjerrum, and that is what we want to continue. We were not put into the world to make money but to do our best. That is also our philosophy going into the future.”