Design: Keeping an eye on the high end market

(January 2010) The interview was a long time in coming and – when the time finally did arrive, we noticed that it was the interviewee who did most of the interviewing. More by the by did he mention his goal – „20% growth over the next 5 years“ – any other CEO would have stood up and shouted it off the rooftops if he dared make any prognosis at all.

Erdogan Akbulak mentions his goal in passing but carefully observes the reaction the statement brings forth. Akbulak is chairman of the Turkish Silkar Company. The interview is carried by two main themes: Silkar itself and the Akdo brand.

In the end we will have learned that both are part of one general concept embracing the global high-end-market in all its facets: Silkar participates in big projects the likes of Tripoli’s congress hall in Libya, where Akdo has taken on the lifestyle market dedicated to interior design.

The mission? „Silkar wants to be one of the most distinguished and preferred suppliers for special projects“ , says Akbulak. To this end the Company is offering nothing short of „complete, all-round, service“ according to Akbulak: ranging from appropriation of the natural stone, to planning, for which no less than 5 architects are responsible, to working the stone all from one hand. The installation is carries out by experienced local companies.

Part of this all-in-one-hand strategy entails not only deriving stone from company-owned quarries but also being positioned to access other materials.

As is the case with the Akdo line, emphasis is on the individual customer and design. This is where Silkar’s Art Director, Metin Ünsal comes in. He developed the flowering mosaic which the company produces. At trade fairs the blossoms lure visitors to the company’s stand. Ünsal’s style is inconspicuous but sleek and functional. It stands above the often self-indulgent overdone design the competition often displays.

Unlike Silkar, Akdo does not cater to the retail market, only to dealers. The company began to set up sales points in the USA and Europe in 2009. Here, too, goals are optimistic: „within the next 5 years we want a total of 5000 sales points throughout the USA and Europe“, says Akbulak. At the time of the interview, which took place at the Verona trade fair, sales points numbered 1000 in the USA and 400 in Europe.

Where does Akbulak see further markets for his high-end-products?

Of course he has his eye on Asia „China first and foremost and from there Japan“, as he says to get a foot in the door, the company entertains productions sites not only in Turkey but also in China. „They produce for the well-to-do in China.“

Of course, if the contract so dictates, they will supply Western customers as well. „In China all popular types of stone are available since the Chinese buy blocks from all over the world“. By producing in China, Akbulak hopes to nip cheap imitations in the bud.

One closing thought on Akdo – more specifically to the market segment: „The brand can also fulfill individual customer wishes“, according to Akbulak.



Metin Ünsal