Kuurne, a suburb of the Belgian design capital Kortrijk, province of West Flanders: some old bicycles in the entrance of the completely renovated headquarters following the centenary, refer to the company's origins, that are Flemish through and through. For its founder, Hilaire Lannoy, wanted to become Flandrien. As a cyclist, Hilaire never reached high peaks. But he did start a bicycle business in 1907, which was given the name Yonnal, a palindrome of his last name, and was renamed Novy in 1919. Production was expanded with cargo bikes and later motorcycles. However, it would take until 1965 before the family discovered that with the latter they also had the know-how to manufacture cooker hoods. “Extremely solid - say West Flemish, ”says Carlos Wanzeele. Soon, in a field that hardly distinguished itself on that point, a Unique Selling Proposition was added: innovation. Already more than half a century ago, for example, Novy introduced rim extraction, where vapor is extracted at an accelerated rate through slits on the rim.
CONNECTIVITY – The many novelties that the company launched since then can be roughly divided into three categories. First there was the phase in which the cooker hood almost completely disappeared into its environment because auditory and visual disturbance was reduced to a minimum. Later, in the spirit of the time, the emphasis also came to lie on recirculation, an energy-efficient extraction without discharge, whereby the air and heat removed from cooking smells could be recovered. Last but not least, there has recently been the digital phase in which the connectivity between extractor hood and other kitchen elements such as the hob is explored. For example, a cooker hood was launched for the first time just before the outbreak of the corona crisis, with sensors and LED lighting, and steered by an app. “Where metalworking originally formed the basis for production, electronics have now been added for 6-7 years, ”says Carlos Wanzeele, “And although this is still in its infancy, and you should not lose the user along the way, it will have enormous consequences in the future”. “Because, for example, take after-sales service, “ adds Marketing Director Olivier Lambert, “While this is currently taking place after a telephone call and a subsequent visit to the customer, products can be equipped in the future with sensors, that will identify and solve problems from a distance.”
MANOEUVRABILITY – To put it in Hilaire's Flandrien terms: only by constantly escaping, away from the pack, Novy can keep its individuality. “Because of course our novelties are continuously copied, “ says Carlos Wanzeele: “ It takes an average of two to three years for the competition to appropriate a novelty. Especially abroad, where our brand awareness is less great, innovation is what sets us apart from the competition, which often consists of global players in the white goods sector, for whom price plays a much greater role. We are therefore condemned to continuous innovation, without any concession in terms of quality or price. Only because of the latter we have been able to keep the entire production process - from product development, and engineering, to marketing, and after-sales under our own management at the head office in Kuurne, which in turn guarantees much greater manoeuvrability and shifting capability.”
MULTIFUNCTIONALITY- Especially over the past 15 years, Novy's turnover has grown unprecedented, from 24 million in 2005 to 78 million last year. In addition to cooker hoods, hobs account for 15% of that turnover, half of which is realized on export markets. Wanzeele and Lambert attribute the growth in part to an evolution in which kitchens are increasingly integrated into the living space, and more investments are made in kitchens: “Novy positions itself in the premium segment of the market, which is growing faster than the market average. Over the past ten years, the company has experienced an annual growth of 8 to 9%, while the global market had to settle with organic growth rates of 1 to 2%. In the future, we therefore want to focus even more on the premium segment and innovation. And because the relationship with the living or working environment plays an increasingly important role, we have increasingly started to think in terms of processes and total concepts instead of just a product - let alone an eyecatcher. This year's great novelty, for example, specifically responds to the fact that residential entities are getting smaller and smaller, which increases the call for multifunctionality, and an even greater discretion of the objects.
UNCOMPRISING - Another important reason for the strong growth was the fact that the fourth generation of the Lannoy family, in the absence of a natural successor, sold a majority stake to the then Fortis Private Equity in 2005, whereas in 2010 the investment fund Sofindev also became a reference shareholder. Finally, in 2016, Korys, the holding company of the Colruyt family, invested in the capital. A professionalization of management was the result. While the production of bicycles was definitively discontinued in 2007, the distribution, which until then ran exclusively through wholesalers, was extended to specialist kitchen stores and chains, and to electrical retail, leading to much greater market penetration. Today Novy boasts an annual production of approximately 100,000 cooker hoods. In terms of number, as the market leader in Belgium, the company accounts for 30% of total sales, but because it focuses exclusively on premium products, that number represents 50% of the amount involved. The company is ranked second in the Netherlands, third in France and fourth in Europe. Novy has set itself the goal of climbing up in that European ranking, counting on an annual turnover of at least 100 million euros within five years. Sales subsidiaries are gradually being started up for this purpose. Branches are already in place in neighboring countries Netherlands, France and Germany, and now it is the turn of the United Kingdom and Switzerland. “However, we don't just want to keep growing at any cost, ”says Wanzeele, “We strive for sustainable growth, with respect for our values. We are also uncompromising on that point.