Signor Palomba was in South Africa recently to visit Sandton-based Cattelan stockist p.Maldini. His overview on Cattelan and where it is in the international marketplace is enlightening.

He says: ’A family controlled company, Cattelan is now one of the largest Italian design / manufacturing operations in the middle to high-end sector of the industry; making tables, chairs and occasional pieces. We acquired another brand three years ago that manufactures sofas and we hope to introduce this collection by 2018 in South Africa; the brand name is Archirivolto.

‘Our mission is to supply excellent design and material content in our models – at a reasonable price. This in order to export our collections, which now accounts for around 80 percent of turnover. In the last five years, Cattelan – despite the global crisis – grew by over 90 percent, almost doubling our numbers. Why? Because we invested a great deal in our products, in materials and design and are able to provide our international clientèle with solutions in contemporary interior design, from corporate to residential.

‘A very important point from our position in the industry is that we customise a lot. We have 20 000 products and there are 60 000 versions of sizes and materials – yet this is never enough. So we offer a customising service – special requests – most of which we can deliver; 10 percent of our total turnover is customised product. We actually have more product offerings than any other European brand, likely due to the fact that we are so adaptable design-wise.’

Cattelan are highly organised and can ship an order within five weeks anywhere in the world. They produce 100 percent in Italy and their suppliers are within 10 kilometres of their HQ. Palomba says that 90 percent of these suppliers work only for Cattelan – the advantage being that with just around 10 percent of personnel actually working at Cattelan, there are some 500 in the neighbourhood assembling their products; it’s significant logistically.

He explains: ‘If you produce everything in house you have reduced flexibility because choices are limited and you can’t grow rapidly as we have done in the past five years. When I arrived there was only the company president who was the chief designer – talented, but close to retirement – and his son. My idea was to approach different designers and suppliers to work for us in order to expand to service markets where we had no presence. Today, we have our own Cattelan shops and shops within shops; for instance, there are three in Australia. Our major market remains Italy with the U.S.A in second place and China growing rapidly in third; we are scheduled to open up to 50 shops there in the near future.

For the full article see Habitat #259 May / June 2017 | Subscribe now