Over its 70-year history, Luzerne has regularly transformed its business strategy to target new customers and stay ahead of its competitors.

March 2015

Thoughtfully designed tableware can elevate a dining experience. “A beautifully set table makes us appreciate the effort that has gone into making mealtimes special and helps us bond with those around us,” says Ms Elaine Lek, Head, Global Brand Team, Luzerne Pte Ltd.

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Luzerne started as a pottery importer under the name Hiap Huat Holdings, but over time it became apparent that the company would need to evolve if it was to stay relevant and compete in the long term. The family-run business, now in its third generation, is best known for creating ceramic and stone tableware for many of the world’s leading restaurants and hotel groups, including Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. It is also the preferred manufacturer for a number of renowned global crockery brands.

In November last year, Luzerne expanded into retail to extend its products to new customers with the help of SPRING Singapore, launching its first shop-in-shop concept at Metro Centrepoint. “We might have a global footprint, but our roots are in Singapore,” says Ms Lek.

Rolling transformation

According to Ms Lek, Luzerne is always looking for ways to transform its business. “We must constantly reinvent ourselves by looking closely at our business offering and investing in state-of-the art technology and branding,” she says.

The company has had some practice in doing so. In 1975, Luzerne was the biggest ceramics importer in Singapore, but the 1997 Asian financial crisis prompted the company to venture into manufacturing. “At that time, a lot of companies were forced to review their business strategies,” Ms Lek explains, adding that Luzerne started making tableware for global brands, and at one point had more than 20 brands under its belt.

“We learnt a lot from these companies in terms of marketing, packaging, design and quality control, and used that knowledge to develop our own range of products under the Luzerne brand.”

Today, 50% of the business comes from original equipment manufacturing and 50% from Luzerne products, sold to major hotels and restaurants in more than 40 countries.

Potential to grow overseas

Elaine-Lek_Head_01_Luzerne-600-x-400“We began our retail arm because we started receiving numerous enquiries from customers all over the world who wanted to buy our products,” Ms Lek says.

The addition of a retail store in Singapore was made possible last year after Luzerne expanded its production capacity. With the help of SPRING’s Capability Development Grant, the company created its shop-in-shop concept with a sales desk within Metro Centrepoint, paying careful attention to everything from the store fixtures to the website.

“It’s not just about designing a beautiful counter; it’s about having an emotional connection with your customer,” Ms Lek says. “We want to improve our customers’ experience and create a bond between the user and the brand, so that they return to our shop.” The company has 11 collections on display at Metro Centrepoint and is considering expanding its retail concept into other major cities over the next few years. China – where the company already has a strong foothold – will be a particular focus. Another plan is to open a heritage centre at its original ceramics factory in China’s Dehua County to attract international tourists.

According to Ms Lek, Luzerne’s ongoing success is built on respect for the past, but ambition for the future. She says, “We must respect the experience and hardship that our family has amassed, and at the same time bring fresh ideas to reach new customers.”

Key takeaways

– Transforming your business strategy can help grow your business and gain access to new customers.

– For information on how SPRING can support your transformation journey, visit www.spring.gov.sg/CDG.

For more information on the retail sector and stories on how retailers have built their capabilities, please visit www.spring.gov.sg/retail or email lifestyle_division@spring.gov.sg.