Haworth to buy high-design Italian furnishings company

Haworth to buy high-design Italian furnishings company



Haworth to buy high-design Italian furnishings company

Haworth plans to buy Italian furnishings company Poltrona Frau Group. (Courtesy photo)
Shandra Martinez | smartinez@mlive.comBy Shandra Martinez | smartinez@mlive.com 
on February 05, 2014 at 9:29 AM, updated February 05, 2014 at 10:58 AM

HOLLAND, MI — Haworth plans to buy the majority stake in Italian furniture company Poltrona Frau, famous for its iconic armchairs.

The Holland-based office furniture-maker announced an agreement to buy 58.6 percent of Italy’s Poltrona Frau at a price of 2.96 euros per share from the company’s largest shareholders, Charme Investments, which owns a 51.3 percent stake, and Moschini, which owns 7.3 percent of company stock.

It’s too early to say how much the acquisition will cost Haworth because the company doesn’t know how much total stock will be acquired, and what the currency exchange rate will be at the time of purchase, said Julie Smith, company spokeswoman.

The Poltrona Frau Group includes the brands Poltrona Frau, Cappellini and Cassina, known for high design and detailed workmanship in furnishings produced for home, office and other spaces such as hotels, stores and even automobile interiors. Last year, the Chrylser 300’s interiors featured Poltrona Frau elements.

Haworth Chairman Matthew Haworth described the acquisition of the high-end Italian home furnishings company as a good fit for the office furniture-maker.

“Our family is very excited about this opportunity,” Haworth said. “This transaction is not only inspired by the strong performance of the Poltrona Frau Group and what we believe to be highly complementary strategies, but even more importantly, by the great alignment of the values shared by both our families.”

The transaction, which must be approved by antitrust authorities, is expected to be completed in April. As part of its plans to take the public company private, Haworth also will offer to buy the remaining shares at the same price, a requirement under Italian law.

Shares of the Italian company climbed 18 percent to 2.932 euros a share on the Milan stock exchange Wednesday after the deal was announced, according to Reuters.

As part of the deal, Haworth will spend another 1.9 million euros to acquire a 98 percent stake in a company that owns the factories located in Meda currently leased to Poltrona Frau.

Franco Moschini, president of Poltrona Frau for the past 50 years and a controlling shareholder of Moschini S.r.l., said he was pleased the future of the company will be in the hands of another family-owned firm.

“This is for me is the realization of a big dream, the creation of the most important global operator in the industry of luxury furnishing that will bring great benefits to the international development of the group and the consequent growth of our factories and manufacturing sites,” Moschini said in a statement.

Poltrona Frau Group operates in more than 65 countries worldwide with more than 70 stores. Haworth has been a partner in the company’s North American operations since 2011.

Over the years, Haworth has developed a strong relationship with the company, said Haworth CEO Franco Bianchi, an Italian native.

“We are highly motivated to continue to develop the extraordinary course that Charme started back in 2003, maintaining and enhancing the Italian tradition of design and innovation that has been characterizing this group for over 100 years,” Bianchi said in a statement.

The 66-year-old Haworth, still privately owned by the descendants of the late founder GW Haworth, is one of West Michigan’s Big Three office furniture-makers. The company makes and sells flexible and sustainable workspaces, with product lines that include movable walls, systems, chairs, raised access floors and communication technologies.

Haworth, with about 6,000 employees and 600 dealers worldwide, had sales of $1.4 billion in 2013.

Shandra Martinez covers business for MLive/The Grand Rapids Press. Email her or follow her on Twitter @shandramartinez.