Austrians beat up Switzerland
Ösi billionaire claws shop after shop with XXXLutz
So now also Conforama: The Austrian furniture group XXXLutz from billionaire Andreas Seifert is expanding in this country. What does this mean for the Swiss furniture market? And what does the Weko say?
Published: 4 minutes ago
XXXLutz has established itself as a driving force in the Swiss furniture market.
Jean Claude RaemyEditor Economics
Bang follows bang in the Swiss furniture market: This week, XXXLutz made headlines again with the takeover of Conforama Suisse. The Austrians want to leave everything as it was when it comes to brand identity, the branch network and the number of employees at Conforama. XXXLutz had done the same for other takeovers. But the fight in the local furniture industry is intensifying as a result.
The reclusive Andreas Seifert (67) pulls the strings at the Austrian furniture group. Insiders in Switzerland interpret his takeovers as an attack on Ikea. There is a tough cut-throat battle in the market for cheap furniture. XXXLutz has already relegated the Swedes to second place in this country. Thanks to many acquisitions: Pfister (and with it the furniture stores Hubacher, Egger and Svoboda), Lipo and Conforama, six former Interio, Meubles Pesse in Monthey VS, plus the Swiss business of Home24 – all of this already belongs to XXXLutz. XXXLutz – group turnover of 5.3 billion euros – with all its brands in Switzerland now has 74 locations in contrast to the nine Ikea locations.
The luxury suppliers remain calm
Are furniture suppliers also affected by market consolidation in other segments? Swiss furniture manufacturers have to deal with the fact that the market share of imported furniture continues to increase. There are different signals among traders. Michael Federer (55), owner of Möbel Rösch in Basel, explains: “We have little contact with the discounters.” Since a completely different clientele is being addressed, he does not feel threatened by the expansion of XXXLutz. “It’s a similar story for other owner-managed furniture suppliers in Switzerland who focus on quality and service,” says Federer. As examples he names Gamma in Wil SG, Lehmann in Düdingen FR or Amrein in Kriens LU.
However, a polarization can be observed. There is an increasing number of “discount or luxury”. According to Federer, unprofiled providers in the middle price range are increasingly being squeezed out because customers are increasingly orienting themselves “upwards or downwards”.
Federer observes that, for example, the Coop subsidiary Livique is “successfully moving into the higher-end segment”. At Möbel Pfister, a downward trend can be observed. For Alfredo Schilirò, spokesman for XXXLutz in Switzerland, Pfister is clearly in the premium segment. Mömax, Lipo and Conforama are “cheap” in the segment. Schilirò places XXXLutz itself and the other brands in the middle, with the target group “Family in Switzerland”.
No case for the Weko
The many small furniture stores are left almost exclusively with the manageable premium niche. The four largest furniture retailers in the country – along with Ikea and XXXLutz, Livique and the Migros subsidiary Micasa – together are likely to have a market share of over 80 percent.
According to Schilirò, XXXLutz is examining other locations. So far, the Competition Commission has not intervened, says its deputy. Director Frank Stüssi (52) on request. “This takeover does not lead to the creation or strengthening of a dominant position. There is sufficient competition with other competitors.”