With Zenith Interiors’ recent expansion into Hong Kong, Olha Romaniuk speaks with the company’s Director, Barbara Schmidt, on its strategic plans in this region.
Top image: Buzzispace
Having started out as an office partition systems manufacturer and gradually expanding its services to become one of Australia’s biggest producers of workstations, Zenith Interiors offers high quality furniture products for contemporary office environments and provides a range of consulting services for customised solutions suited to unique requirements of office spaces. In recent years, the company has been steadily expanding into the Asia Pacific regional markets, with its latest showroom opening in Hong Kong. We find out more about the company and its goals for expansion in Asia from Zenith’s Director, Barbara Schmidt.
How does Zenith Interiors differ from other furniture manufacturers?
The big difference between Zenith and other manufacturers is our commitment and reputation for great service and collaboration. We are a very proactive and responsive organisation with great efficiencies, not afraid to offer new ideas and solutions. Our workstation department is virtually a customised solution process.
We bring a lot of value to our clients and designers on major projects through our R&D design studio department, combining our experience and our capabilities to create unique solutions. We go the extra mile to deliver what the client and the design team want, and we try to exceed expectations in terms of what we do for the betterment of the product, as well as for the project outcome.
You offer a lot of furniture pieces by internationally acclaimed designers and brands. How do you go about establishing working relationships with them?
We have an open and transparent relationship with all of our suppliers and our international partners play a very important role in our overall collection by giving us access to exceptional designer furniture.
When selecting an international partner, we look for a company that has a solid commercial offering. We want to ensure they are always releasing new products and are in tune with office trends. We, in turn, have a lot to offer to our partners since we have a large distribution network of nine showrooms in the Asia Pacific region.
We always aim to represent brands on an exclusive basis. By doing this, we can invest in the relationship and work together to establish the brand and products in our marketplace. We like to localise products where possible and if we cannot do this, we discuss stocking programmes.
We try to avoid conflict and work together with our international partners to understand our marketplace better and ensure that the international product we offer is relevant to our clientele. Once we identify relevant products, we decide if we should stock certain items or manufacture them under a license.
Are there any specific designers that you seek out for collaborations?
We are very happy to say that our international partners are very active and release new and exciting products all the time; this is the criteria we are looking for when we enter these relationships.
This past Orgatec fair in Cologne Germany, Allermuir released an amazing new product called the Ad Lib work lounge by PearsonLloyd and Buzzisapce released a new workplace meeting table called BuzziPicNic by Alain Gilles.
We have a unique collaboration with the world-class design studio Schamburg+Alvisse, which we acquired in 2011. The studio continues to provide us with new designs and fully resolved products, and also plays a very important role in large product deliveries for customised solutions.
We also have good collaborative relationships with other local designers like Keith Melbourne, Tom Skeehan, Tom Fereday and Yellow Diva, who complement our offerings and provide a good balance of local and international designers in our collection.
Aside from collaborations with designers, our own R&D studio releases new products as often as possible. As a matter of fact, we have a new workstation solution coming to the market in the first half of 2015.
How does Zenith keep up with the latest office environment trends and incorporate them into the design of its products?
We have monthly meetings with our R&D and Product Innovation design teams to discuss what new products we will be releasing into the marketplace. The dialogue and the process mean that we are constantly evaluating ourselves and our products to ensure that Zenith maintains an ‘edge’ in the marketplace.
Our professional relationships with designers, end users and suppliers keep us in touch with trends and changes in the workplace. We are very responsive to new ideas and new workplace trends and can translate them into our product offerings very quickly.
What are some of the benefits and advantages of having your own manufacturing facilities in Australia, New Zealand and China?
Our ability to provide customised solutions is a huge strength for Zenith but even more important is our ability to provide on-time solutions through our localised manufacturing strategies. We are always asking ourselves, “What is the quickest and most cost effective way to get the product to the client?”
We may choose to make a product or part of a product in our Shanghai factory or our Australian factories, or choose to airfreight from Belgium or upholster something in our New Zealand facility. We may draw from stock or make from scratch to ensure the best possible service and on-time delivery.
What is your strategy and goals for expansion in the Asia Pacific region?
We have showrooms in every major city in Australia, Auckland, Wellington and Hong Kong, offering sales, project management and a diverse range of products that can help to create a sustainable workplace. Our expansion into Asia is a natural progression. Many of our clients have offices in Asia and there are so many Australian architects and designers working in these regions. We need to be there to support them and to achieve further growth for our organisation.
What are some of the star products that you are offering in your Hong Kong showroom?
The collection on display showcases our Zenith workstations, our Schamburg+Alvisse brand and our core international partners Formway, Allermuir, Buzzispace, Enea and Aichi.