Interview with José Juan Femenía, ALONDRA's CEO
- First of all, we want to congratulate you on the 25 years of experience that your company is about to complete since its inception in the mid-1980s. How were the beginnings? What has been its evolution during these years?
The origin is in the textile manufacturing workshop that my parents had and in which they manufactured for different basket companies. With their support, in 1985 we decided to launch our own basket collections with our new brand ALONDRA.
In 1999 we incorporated children's furniture to our range of products, designed by us and manufactured in subcontracted workshops. In January 2000 we presented our first collection in the national market, which had a great impact. Our first years in the children's furniture sector were not without difficulties, but they were very satisfying when we discovered that we could contribute new things. In 2002 we opened our own children's furniture factory. We currently have four work centers, two in Pedreguer, one in Beniarbeig (Alicante), and another in Silla (Valencia).
- Reaching the quarter century is an important milestone at the business level. What do you think are the keys to achieving this goal?
Since our beginnings and year after year, we have always wanted to differentiate ourselves from others, create our own style. Our philosophy has been to design and launch collections with ALONDRA's own style, which stands out above the rest for its innovative character.
- What figures does ALONDRA currently handle and what are its expectations for 2010 onwards?
As we have already mentioned, ALONDRA has four work centers, two of them for production and two for logistics distribution. It has points of sale spread throughout the Spanish geography, attended by 14 commercial agents.
At an international level, it has its own office in Milan (Italy), Lyon (France) and Mainz (Germany) and has a portfolio of more than 200 clients in these countries. It also distributes its products in Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Luxembourg, Qatar, etc. During this year 2010 and the next, the objective is to implant our brand in all the main European countries.
- Tell us about ALONDRA's headquarters in the Alicante town of Beniarbeig. What departments does it house?
In September 2008 the company moved its offices to the new building within the Beniarbeig logistics center, acquired in 2003. It has 800 square meters dedicated to offices and 400 square meters of showrooms, built in 2007 with a very modern and innovative design. .
We have a team of 22 professionals in the departments of: management, design and R&D, quality, marketing, IT, administration, expeditions, customer service, sales, after-sales, purchasing, accounting, human resources and national and international commercial management . It is a very young work group with an average age of 30 to 35 years, which has a very entrepreneurial spirit and is totally customer-oriented.
- What are the main axes of your supply, distribution and logistics strategy? How long are your products serving? How is the sales network structured? What is your pricing policy?
Our supply and distribution policy is based on continuous manufacturing to maintain significant stocks of all items in order to provide a good service to our customers.
ALONDRA was the first basket company nationwide to offer a 24-hour service. In furniture this is not possible, since transport through moving agencies makes it difficult to offer short delivery times. At present our service dates are 30 days in furniture and about 7-10 days in baskets, except for the novelties.
Our sales network is made up of 14 commercial agents that cover the entire national territory except the Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, all of them led by our commercial director Paco Roig, with more than 18 years of experience in the company.
The current pricing policy for 2010 has been to maintain those of the previous year and even adapt some to the current situation. Our prices are not low compared to the industry. This is due to the fact that the manufacturing costs with the quality levels that we currently demand of all our furniture and textiles are high.
- What services does ALONDRA offer that distinguish it from other companies?
We offer an extensive catalog of children's furniture to match with a complete range of textile baskets and numerous accessories to decorate all types of children's rooms. Our convertible cribs are very successful nationally and internationally. In addition, we have one of the largest catalogs in the sector, consisting of 240 pages and a stock coverage available at all times of 90% -95% of our articles in order to offer an urgent service to our customers.
- How did you experience your first edition at Kind + Jugend (Cologne) as exhibitors?
In September 2008 we hired an export manager to start selling our products outside of Spain, opening up many new markets for us on the European continent this past year. The culmination of this first year of international voyage was in September 2009 at the Kind + Jugend fair in Cologne, where we presented our collection for the first time. As of today we are exporting to 15 countries and we are negotiating distribution agreements in 4 or 5 more countries.
ALONDRA already had export experience since the 1990s, when it sold its basket items to various European countries. When starting its journey in the children's furniture market, it was strategically decided to dedicate all the manufacturing and effort to introduce the brand nationwide and it was not until 2009 when it decided to open up to new markets, once both its implementation at the national level and its production capacity.
- What comments can you make about the online sale of childcare articles in Spain?
Today it is a new type of business that we must all take into account in our expansion plans. The children's furniture market is complex to develop in this area due to transport and after-sales, but we foresee that in a few years all brands of children's furniture will also be available for sale online. Manufacturers and distributors should take into account for the future the opportunities offered by this new distribution platform, since not assuming it could mean losing their position in the sector.
- What evolution do you think the childcare business is experiencing in the Spanish market? And internationally? How do you see its expansion?
In recent years, many specialized childcare businesses have been opened at the national level, which has resulted in the professionalization of the sector has increased.
At an international level, the furniture sector is totally oriented to the sale of children's rooms. The main change is to create exhibitions of complete and fully decorated children's rooms, directing the sale towards the decoration, personalization, prescription, advice and assembly of children's furniture.
There are still many stores nationwide that only sell cribs. In heavy childcare they have the best and most expensive brands and do not pay the same attention to furniture and decoration. Childcare specialists, apart from prescribing a whole range of children's furniture, must provide transportation and assembly services, as well as advise the client on the decoration of children's rooms. In some areas of the national territory it has been working in this way for a long time, despite which there are many others that will take a long time to implement this concept, which in our opinion is the trend for the future.
- Tell us, what is the turnover of childcare in Spain? How is ALONDRA positioned and with what fee?
In recent years, almost all layette manufacturers have expanded their product range by introducing children's furniture and vice versa. The sale of children's furniture focuses mainly on the first baby and only a part of them acquires the complete room or convertible crib. This market is divided between 8 or 10 major brands, as well as some specialized franchises and small local manufacturers. Within children's furniture, our company is among the top three brands nationwide, with a market share of around 10%.
- What are ALONDRA's short, medium and long term objectives and projects? What are your expectations for 2010 and 2011?
We have a large number of objectives within our strategic plan, among which it is worth highlighting:
- At an international level: consolidate the markets of France, Germany, Portugal and Italy, implementing our products in 90% of the areas of each country, and opening new markets in the rest of the European countries to which we do not yet export, thus as to countries of the Far East.
- At the national level: to retain even more loyalty to our best customers.
Interview published in Intercompany