Haworth Acquires JANUS et Cie: Here’s Why.

 JANUS et Cie Chicago Showroom

JANUS et Cie Chicago Showroom

Before the first corks could pop out of the Prosecco bottles to celebrate iSaloni last week, Haworth was toasting its acquisition of JANUS et Cie, the high-end outdoor furniture company it will fold into its Poltrona Frau Group.

While some might write off the acquisition as an ill-conceived vanity purchase, the addition of JANUS et Cie to Haworth’s growing portfolio of luxury furniture brands makes perfect sense. Indeed, it could be argued JANUS et Cie is a better fit than any of the others made in recent years. JANUS et Cie will join Cassina, Cappellini and Poltrona Frau in Haworth’s Lifestyle Design division.

The move makes sense for several reasons.

It opens up an entirely new market segment for Haworth and its dealers. The outdoor furniture market is growing in size and importance. In both the residential and contract markets, outdoor living (and increasingly, working) is getting more attention from architects and designers. More money is being spent on outdoor areas.

“What appeals to me most is JANUS et Cie’s enormous potential for expansion, as today the brand is mostly present in North America and still to be substantially developed in Asia and Europe.”

Work is untethered from the wires that used to hold it indoors. Outdoor work areas aren’t just for connecting buildings anymore. A peek at corporate campuses, especially those in warm-weather locations such as California, Texas and Florida, shows more thought — and money — is being pumped into making these spaces work.

The same is true for high-end homes. Your grandparents lawn chairs and patio sets are making way for smartly designed furniture, which is increasingly comfortable, sophisticated and expensive. Outdoor spaces are no longer a design afterthought. They are becoming critical parts of home and office plans.

Haworth likely could have acquired other outdoor furniture companies, but none with the scale and reach of JANUS et Cie. Founded in Los Angeles in 1978 by the eclectic designer and entrepreneur Janice Feldman, JANUS et Cie has sales of approximately $100 million and a consistent record of high, year-over-year growth. The company principally works through 16 directly owned showrooms and 40 sales offices throughout the world, employing 240. It would be considered a large player in any furniture segment, but in outdoor furniture, it is one of the giants.

It is hard to overestimate the force of Feldman in the company’s growth and development. The furniture is high-end, smartly designed, hip, and it grew out of her passion for art and painting. Feldman has come a long way since her time at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, but her interests remain the same. Simply put, she always has loved beautiful products.

It is no surprise the announcement of Haworth’s acquisition of JANUS et Cie was made in Milan. When Feldman started in the industry, she was one of the first importers of furniture from Italy — quite forward thinking at the time. She started out with a 1,400 square foot showroom at the Pacific Design Center, even before she had a product to show.

Haworth acquisitions have been a mixed bag. If there is any “X Factor” in this acquisition, it is: Can Feldman, a truly iconic, independent entrepreneur in the industry, operate within the corporate confines of the deal? Will Feldman be another Mogens Smed, who left his namesake company after Haworth bought it only to leave and start DIRTT, or will she thrive under Haworth’s corporate structure? JANUS et Cie will continue to operate independently, according to Haworth, and Feldman will retain a significant equity stake in the company and continue to serve as the company’s chief executive officer. Paul Warren, chief operating officer of the company, also will continue in his role. Both Feldman and Warren will report to Dario Rinero, CEO of Poltrona Frau Group.

The fit for Haworth and JANUS et Cie is a good one, said Kurt Vander Schuur, corporate brand director at Haworth, who was in the Poltrona Frau stand at iSaloni. Of course, everyone is happy in the honeymoon phase.

“I am very proud to announce the creation of an extraordinary partnership,” Feldman said. “Poltrona Frau Group and Haworth have made an important investment in JANUS et Cie. Beyond our shared core values in people, growth and historical legacy, our companies have powerful synergies as we expand together globally. The decision to partner with Poltrona Frau Group was inspired by their excellent reputation in all aspects of design and leadership. The group, collectively and individually, has consistently demonstrated a historical commitment to privately owned, carefully grown businesses for many generations. In every respect, these qualities also describe the exceptional people who, over the past 38 years are JANUS et Cie. We operate today in multiple market sectors: residential, hospitality, contract, site and marine.”

She said her company is fully committed to take maximum advantage of the company’s shared resources and priorities with Poltrona Frau Group and Haworth, saying the “solid and respected” global scale of Poltrona Frau Group and Haworth will facilitate rapid long-term expansion. “Furthermore, JANUS et Cie is the proud recipient of countless design awards and is celebrated by designers, architects, businesses and the most discriminating consumers worldwide as the definitive source for site, garden and casual furnishings,” Feldman said.

Rinero said he is happy the agreement was reached after a “long journey of discovery.” Through the acquisition of JANUS et Cie, he said, the company will enter the important segment of outdoor furniture, attaining a global leadership position thanks to the value of the brand and the size of the company.

“What appeals to me most is JANUS et Cie’s enormous potential for expansion, as today the brand is mostly present in North America and still to be substantially developed in Asia and Europe,” he said. “The value of this acquisition will therefore be reflected in the advantage that JANUS et Cie’s products will benefit from Poltrona Frau Group and Haworth’s international sales and distribution platforms.”

The acquisition of JANUS et Cie is a continuation of Haworth’s investment in its Lifestyle Design division, which is in its second year of Haworth ownership. It also will offer further development opportunities for Haworth dealers in North America, said Franco Bianchi, president and CEO of Haworth. 

Reprinted from The Business of Furniture - Read more on bof.press >