Danish furniture manufacturer focuses on consumers’ eco awareness. A new sustainable furniture series, an eco label and greener production methods aim to strengthen the position of Mogens Hansen Møbler A/S in two key export markets. The strategy stood to the test at the biggest Nordic furniture show, Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.
After 55 years on the Danish market, furniture manufacturer Mogens Hansen Møbler A/S (Mogens Hansen Furniture, ed.)has developed a new, green business model aimed at building a sustainable furniture collection. This green transformation was developed with support from the Fund for Green Business Development and the Central Denmark Region and is scheduled to be fully implemented by 2020. The goal is to facilitate access to select export markets, target a new and younger audience, create green Danish jobs and generate added turnover.
In an effort to boost its growth potential, Mogens Hansen Furniture will be launching two new designs along with two models from the existing collection made of FSC-labelled wood, eco-friendly foam and bio-degradable upholstery fabric – materials that are expected to secure the important Nordic Ecolabel in spring 2016. Going forward, all the company’s new products will be based on sustainable principles, and the long-term goal is to apply these principles to all aspects of the production, giving all the company’s collections a green profile.
The Nordic Ecolabel
– It’s quite demanding to qualify for the Nordic Ecolabel – not least with upholstered furniture, because it involves so many different materials, says CEO and owner Michael Hansen, who is second generation in the company founded by his father, Mogens Hansen, in 1961.
– The transition process is both costly and labour-intensive, but we expect to see a good return on our investment, as the new sustainable concept will give us a strong position in export markets such as Norway and Sweden. We also expect the new, green profile – along with new designs – to appeal to a new and younger customer segment, says Michael Hansen.
According to Michael Hansen, recent studies show that almost one in four Danes goes specifically for sustainable products, and that an even bigger share of Danish consumers reward manufacturers that take responsibility for the environment and consider future generations.
Qualifying for the contract market
Sofas and chairs from Mogens Hansen Furniture are found in thousands of Danish homes – and in the future, Michael Hansen hopes to see the company’s furniture in many public settings.
– We aim to play a role in furnishing hotels and corporate HQs. We pursue this ambition in part by developing a collection with a more stringent design expression, but the green angle is important there too, says Michael Hansen and highlights the eco-friendly Waterlily foam, which is produced without CFC gases, and which is also flame-retardant and easy to recycle.
– To be a serious player in the contract market, we need to live up to the special requirements in this field, Michael Hansen emphasizes.
– As one of the few Danish furniture makers, we have maintained production in our own factory in Denmark. Most of our suppliers are Danish too. That makes us agile and ensures that our production is genuinely sustainable, says Michael Hansen. In 2011 Mogens Hansen cut the ribbon for a brand-new factory outside the city of Aarhus and reported a healthy increase in turnover in 2015.
The green strategy is one of several growth instruments that Michael Hansen applies in order to reach new markets. Another instrument is design optimization.
– So far, the design and development of our classic sofa models has mostly been an in-house effort, but now we’re bringing in competent external designers too as a way of adding innovation, says Michael Hansen, who has engaged in a creative dialogue with the Aarhus-based designer Anders Nørgaard and industrial designer Tom Stepp, who have both created a wide range of furniture designs for well-established furniture manufacturers over the years. Another external contributor is Kai Kristiansen, one of the last furniture designers from the golden age of Danish furniture design who is still active. Furniture by these three external designers forms the core of the company’s current push in the Scandinavian market.
– We have a close and inspiring collaboration with furniture designer Anders Nørgaard – from the draft to the finished product. He has spent a lot of time at the factory and been able to discuss ideas with our workers face to face. Something that’s only possible because we’ve maintained our production in Denmark, Michael Hansen points out.
Strategic sales partnership
– Our first major export push will be in Stockholm, where we exhibit at the biggest furniture fair in the Nordic region, the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. We share a stand at the fair with our strategic partner dk3, which makes tables and other types of furniture. With a shared network of sales reps in Norway and Sweden, we hope to improve our visibility and impact, and in the longer term we also plan to approach markets outside Scandinavia, says an optimistic Michael Hansen.
Mogens Hansen Møbler A/S was founded in 1961 by Mogens Hansen. In 2003, his son Michael Hansen took over the reins.
The Fund for Green Business Development, which existed from 2013 to 2015, was a fund under the Danish Business Agency, which supported Danish companies’ efforts to improve the environment, enhance competitiveness, generate exports and create new jobs in Denmark.
The fund awarded grants totalling DKK 59.7 million to 33 projects, including :
• Product innovation and redesign
• Developing green business models
• Promoting sustainable materials