Research Yields New Marketing Program for Lakatex/Muller Zell

September 5, 1999

Goor, The Netherlands -- Dutch Lakatex and German Muller Zell, the Interior Textiles Group within the Blydenstein Willink textiles concern have completely changed their collection strategy. They are now devoting more attention to the creation of themes, geared to specific fields of interest or clients and based on intensive international trend analysis. Consequently, the marketing and sales departments of the group have been transformed into a network organization with a structure that is as flat as possible.
The Interior Textiles Group of Blydenstein Willink, registered on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, consists of jacquard weaver Muller Zell and textile printer Lakatex. It is coordinated by M.R.B. van der Lande, managing director of Lakatex and Muller Zell, who is assisted by joint managing director Al Heydasch.
"We had become aware that selling individual designs was becoming increasingly difficult," said van der Lande. "Both our clients who sell our products to retailers and our industrial clients who use our products in their end products were -- and still are -- being faced with ever more rapid changes in fashion trends and with more and more unpredictable consumer tastes. To increase their chances of commercial success, our clients had to offer an increasingly extensive collection, which resulted in large stocks of samples and sales materials. In addition, the life cycle of individual designs was shortening considerably, and the success of a design had largely become a matter of luck."
Lakatex and Muller Zell believe they have found the answer to this problem in devoting much more time to studying consumer tastes and living preferences, lifestyle developments, and levels of fashion consciousness.
"Consumers want stylish interiors that harmonize with their lifestyles, right down to the accessories. We believe that if our clients want to remain successful, the solution is to offer thematic collections to the end-consumers, to create a 'story' that is geared to tastes, lifestyle and fashion sensibilities of specific target groups. Everything should agree and fit mutually: designs, materials, color schemes and presentation. In addition, we will also take into account the increasingly stringent requirements that are made for each area of application as well as the growing variation between countries with regard to trends, fashion levels and consumer tastes," said van der Lande.
As a result, the group's collection strategy will be turned into the creation of complete themes, frequently geared to specific domains or clients and based on intensive international trend analysis. This will be realized as much as possible in collaboration with partners to whom this approach appeals, which means that choices will have to be made and that operating on a worldwide scale will be difficult, if not impossible.
"Our goal is to reform the Interior Fabrics Group from a traditional textile printing and jacquard weaving company into an organization offering complete solutions in the area of conceptual and targeted collections for interior fabrics.
"We have the required expertise, skills and facilities at our disposal to efficiently realize this new approach," said van der Lande. "Recently the number of staff people involved in sales, marketing trend analysis and collection development has been significantly increased. Also, we will make frequent use of external sources of expertise. Investments have been made in the latest CAD/CAM systems for the creation of design ideas, and also in digital print unit. We ascertained that the fundamental changes in demand required another type of organization and management. A company with strong hierarchical structures and a culture of giving and receiving orders is not appropriate from this point of view. We have therefore transformed the company's organization into a network that is as flat as possible, with independent market teams, which consist of sellers, marketing specialists, stylists and designers who work for selected target groups and in collaboration with our business partners.
"The strong points in our new strategy are expertise, creativity, speed and staff goodwill.  Using these in the new role outlined, and with the facilities that have already been acquired, we foresee a bright future and extensive growth for the Blydenstein Willing Interior Fabrics Group," concluded van der Lande.

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