How Maisons du Monde exports its store concept

Xavier MarieA third of its sales already come from outside France, and Maisons du Monde aims to increase this proportion to 50% in 2020 by developing its single brand and leveraging e-commerce to test new markets at lower cost. To learn more, we spoke with Xavier Marie, the company’s founder.

Become the Zara of home furnishings, an ambitious international goal

 With €881.8 million in 2016 sales, 26% more than in 2015, Maisons du Monde is doing very well, indeed. International development is responsible for a lot of that growth. Out of 26 net new stores opened in 2016, 16 were opened outside France. “At the outset, it was not at all clear we would succeed, because each market’s tastes and styles are unique,” said Xavier. He explained that over the last 10 years, as fashion concepts have been applied to the home, the home furnishings sector has taken on somewhat similar characteristics throughout the world, enabling Maisons du Monde to gradually build a real international identity. “We started with the countries that are culturally closest to France.” The company first expanded into Southern Europe, then launched into countries that have a different approach to home furnishings, such as Switzerland and Germany. Today, Maisons du Monde has exported its concept as far as the Middle East and Eastern Europe. “Our objective is to increase international sales from 30% to 50% of the total by 2020.”

Single-brand strategy

Maisons du Monde uses a single-brand strategy in all of its target markets. “We emphasize our strong brand identity while offering a multi-niche product range and a wide variety of styles. This approach has enabled us to penetrate very heterogeneous markets.” Xavier told us that he has looked at potential acquisitions, in particular in Europe, but these opportunities did not present themselves quickly enough. To boost development around its single brand, Maisons du Monde has not ruled out franchising, however. “It’s an interesting option for very distant locations, especially when you consider the considerable human resources necessary to launch a store in another country.”

A foot in the door via e-commerce

 Before entering a new country, Maisons du Monde uses its secret weapon: the web. Accounting for 19% of all sales and up to 34% of furniture sales, e-commerce represents a significant market share for the company, which was one of the web’s home furnishings pioneers.  And it doesn’t hesitate to use the web to test new markets. “E-commerce has preceded new store openings in many countries.” Xavier cited the example of Germany, where Maisons du Monde already had an eight-year history of online sales before opening its first store two years ago. “For us, it’s a way to test our products at a lower cost. But in contrast to some of our competitors, who have gone completely digital, we still publish a paper catalogue, which our customers appreciate,” he explained. Maisons du Monde now uses all three channels: the web, brick-and-mortar stores and paper catalogues. All indications are that its multi-channel strategy is paying off and promising the company a bright future.

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Apax Talks is a digital magazine aimed at company managers. It presents growth levers for SMEs, with a focus on TMT, consumer, healthcare and services sectors.