OUR FRENCH COMPANIES HAVE TALENT
Arnaud Gonnet, CEO of Gosto, an office furniture distribution platform, explains the new challenges in this sector.
Edith Keller – CEO of Carlin International Group: Hello Arnaud, what was the direct impact of Covid on your business?
Arnaud Gonnet – CEO at Gosto: We are fortunate to work with all sizes of companies, we have felt a sudden slowdown in large groups that have often privileged teleworking, but SMEs have continued to invest in office equipment. Initially, we had to find solutions to ensure the protection of employees, such as partition walls, but this demand has been declining for several months now.
Arnaud Gonnet – CEO at Gosto
E.K: Apart from protection-related products, did you have any star products?
A.G: Without a doubt, chairs, teleworking employees have quickly felt the need to equip themselves with an ergonomic chair, which many companies have invested in for their employees. It is worth mentioning that on this product all the features that bring more comfort are highly appreciated, and we can notice an increase in the average purchase price in this category. The consideration of ergonomics for better comfort becomes essential.
E.K: What impact did teleworking have on your business?
A.G: Acceleration of two trends:
- The search for well-being and conviviality. We need to bring employees back into the company, many of them have suffered from isolation, and to relaunch the business we need to create a spirit of cohesion. Moreover, it should be noted that the buyers of our products are increasingly attached to HR. The workspace reflects the company’s state of mind.
- The valorization of the notion of freedom. To work as I want according to my current occupations, on a sofa, on a high table, in a cubicle … we note the acceptance of these new uses in the company and consequently new needs in the design of workspaces. For example, we have never sold so many sofas, cubicles, or desks that can be adjusted in height and tilted,
E.K: Are you thinking of developing specific lines that are both more suitable for a private place and at the same time ergonomic and functional?
A.G: I don’t think I’ll develop any specific products, because I think that the majority of employees will return to the company, especially in the provinces. In Paris, it is a bit different, the gain from telework is very obvious, for the company, because of the rent costs, for the employees, especially for those who have long transport times, in terms of efficiency. However, the aesthetics of our products are more and more elaborate and in line with decoration trends, therefore the private/corporate mix will be more obvious.
E.K: Do co-working spaces have specific demands?
A.G: The design of these places influences companies. Less fixed places, freer combinations, modularity is omnipresent for an adaptation to all the new attitudes of the employees.
E.K: The whole textile sector, which you know well, is campaigning for sustainable and ethical practices, how is this reflected in your sector?
A.G: Sustainability is a key issue. We have noticed that our customers are choosing the best quality/price ratio, but less systematically for entry-level products, particularly for seating. On the contrary, we are starting to develop office trays in eco-designed materials, but we are very quickly confronted with the problem of price!
E.K: What are your consumers’ highest expectations today?
A.G: Common sense basics: comfort, ergonomics, practicality, functionality. The new trends: conviviality, modularity, aestheticism, durability.
E.K: How are you dealing with the rise of digital and the dematerialization of the office?
A.G: Dematerialisation has meant more aesthetics, more available space, less archiving in unattractive cabinets, in favor of nice sharing spaces. Of course, we have done a lot of work to integrate all the connectivity in our products.
E.K: To finish on a question of style, what about color? Will we finally see new shades emerge?
A.G: We can notice that white and black are still the main colors, but for ” convivial ” rooms such as cubicles and sofas, we can observe a breakthrough of pastels, old pinks, celadons, and beiges which replace taupes. Today, some companies are asking us to develop their “corporate” colors.