This innovative furniture manufacturer and online retailer is expanding
by Sarah Brownlee
made.com, founded in 2010 by Ning Li, Chloe Macintosh and Julien Callède, famously saves money and time by cutting out the middle men. There are no agents, warehouses or stores to speak of and everything is made to order keeping costs low and allowing them to release up to two collections per week rather than two per year, which is more like the industry norm.
This is a company in a very dynamic phase of its development. Having already cracked the UK market, made.com launched in France and Italy in 2013, with more overseas expansion planned for this year. A team of over 120 people is based in offices in London and Shanghai, China. Former CEO of match.com Philippe Chainieux has just joined the made.com family, taking on the position of managing director, and now they’ve set up a business-to-business team to add to their already impressive offer.
With the emphasis on affordable but quality design (by the likes of Allegra Hicks, James Harrison and Jimmie Martin, to name but a few), made.com is most obviously geared to consumers but the business is more suited to the trade market than most people might imagine, according to made.com co-founder and creative director Chloe Macintosh. ‘One of the key aspects of our business model is that we make products to order so fundamentally, from a business point of view, it’s closer to trade business than it is to consumer business,’ she explains.
Made.com already has trade customers, including a property developer, so they know the demand is there but now a dedicated in-house team will be on hand to look after this aspect of their operations. ‘We want to offer more insight into what the possibilities are (for the trade customers) in terms of the flexibility of products,’ Macintosh continues.
Also in the pipeline for made.com: the development of their less-than-conventional showroom concept (their first showroom is located within the made.com offices on the ninth floor of a building in Notting Hill), which Macintosh describes tantalisingly as ‘a big project’. A new Leeds showroom opened in mid-December 2013.
Made.com launched its Emerging Talent design award in September 2013 – a project that Macintosh (below left, born in Paris but a London resident for the past 16 years) was personally very excited about.
Macintosh’s passion for design and product development stems from her training as an architect. After ten years working at Foster + Partners, she joined entrepreneur Brent Hoberman at mydeco.com and it was Hoberman who introduced Macintosh to her co-founders at made.com.
‘We are about investing in new talent when that is about one of the hardest things for a brand to do,’ she says of the initiative. ‘For me it’s been a very satisfying project.’