Why Gautier brought French furniture to PH

French furniture maker Gautier has recently opened its first store in the Philippines, the second in Asia after South Korea, bringing in modern pieces for the upscale Filipino market.

Blims Lifestyle Group, a leading furniture distributor in the country, tapped the French company to provide the local market modern and contemporary trends in the furniture industry.

Gautier Philippines general manager Katrina Samantha Lim says it took BLG a year to get the French furniture maker to decide on Philippine expansion.

“This is our first time to venture into the high-end market. BLG has a defined customer base and we are very confident that this new concept will have its own following soon,” she says.

Gautier Philippines opens its first store at Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City.  Shown during the store opening are (from left) Gautier France chief executive David Soulard, Gautier Philippines general manager Katrina Lim, Blims Lifestyle Group president Sam Frederick Lim and Gautier France export manager Hervé Soulard.

The youngest in a brood of six and the only female, Lim was entrusted the responsibility to look after the high-end venture of BLG.  She is a daughter of BLG chairman Samie Lim.  

The talented young entrepreneur, who exudes feminine flair and artistic sensibility, felt that Gautier’s fine pieces would fit well into the lifestyle of Filipinos.

She noticed that more Filipino families now start to move up to the upper segment of the market, given their rising income and better opportunities in an economy that is constantly expanding.

Housed inside the newly-opened Shangri-La Hotel at Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, the Gautier showroom boasts of a wide selection of finely-crafted furniture suited for modern Filipino homes.

From very stylish yet utilitarian living room ensemble to sophisticated dining sets and even down to office staples, Gautier has the perfect piece for every corner in every room, she says.

What is remarkable, Lim says, is that Gautier comes up with the perfect combination of simplicity and elegance.

All Gautier furniture are guaranteed for 10 years except sofas, soft materials and bedding.  All products also comply with European standards.

Gautier started as a manufacturer of children’s furniture—a sector where safety and quality are paramount and compromise is unthinkable.

It was the first French furniture manufacturer to have obtained triple QSE (quality safety and environment) certification. The company limits the future products environmental impact with eco-design approach wherein 98 percent of waste is recycled.

Gautier is the fifth of Blims’ concept store. Other concepts are the ready-to-use and ready-to-deliver furniture, now industry standards in convenience and practicality. 

Gautier export manager Herve Soulard says the Philippines is a rising market—one with the promise of people moving up and families affording the finest products.

“The Philippines is also the first country in Southeast Asia where we have presence. We believe that the Philippines will be a big market for us soon,” he says.

After the Philippines, Gautier is set to expand to Singapore and Indonesia, according to Soulard. Guatier France chief executive David Soulard also attended the opening of the Fort Bonifacio branch.

In 2015, the French firm spent 10 million euros to acquire new machineries for wood processing. It uses 100 percent Pine wood harvested from Pine tree forest for all its furniture.

Gautier manufactures its furniture in three production sites in France— La Boupere, Chantonnay and Saint Prouant- all  using cutting edge machineries and equipment.

With support from local small and medium enterprises, Gautier has become the European leader in contemporary furniture. It employs more than 950 employees across all manufacturing sites.

It trains its own in-house designers and constantly joins trade shows to keep updated. It has also teamed up with trend watchers in 30 countries.

With the partnership, Blims is looking at P60 million in annual sales from the Gautier concept in the first year of operations in the Philippines.

The company is currently looking for more sites in the country, especially upscale retail places and hotels.

Over 95 percent of the furniture sold in Gautier stores are manufactured in their French factories while the rest are produced in neighboring European countries. 

Lim says the partnership with Gautier is a part of Blims’ raison d’etre or goal to upgrade the living standards of Filipinos.

Lim says Gautier is not just for chic and classy shoppers.  “It is for today’s socially minded consumers who value the intangibles,” she says.

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