Italian tile brings a touch of warmth to Northern Europe | by Elena Pasoli
The Norwegian company Bergersen Flis is one of the most interesting and successful tile and bathroom furniture distributors in Northern Europe as well as one of the brightest stars in the Saint Gobain universe. Founded by the Bergersen family in the 1980s, the company focused right from the start on product quality and customer service, and now has several branches located throughout the country. To find out more about this success story, we interviewed Viggo Rangnes, Sales & Marketing Director.
When was Bergersen Flis founded and who are your target clientele?
The company was founded in Oslo in 1996, although the Bergersen family had already gained plenty of experience in importing quality tiles into Norway since the 1970s. Right from the start the business focused primarily on professionals, designers and contractors, who are still our key customers. The first store featured a large showroom where professionals could send their clients, and at the same time had a showroom for architects, a warehouse and even a training centre for tile laying.
How is your company organised today?
We have six branches scattered across Norway: two in Oslo and the others in Trondheim, Hamar, Bergen and Tromsø in the north of the country. They all have a showroom for private clients, one reserved for architects and a training centre for installers. We also have a network of partners and franchise retailers who market our products throughout Norway.
What other products do you sell besides ceramic tiles?
We sell bathroom furniture, showers, sanitary fixtures and microcement. Our main suppliers for these products are Scandinavian firms such as Dansani, INR and Tapwell.
When and how did you get to know Italian tiles? What is their most distinctive feature?
We began working with Italian suppliers right from the start as we found they offered the very best in terms of design and quality. We firmly believe that Italy is the leader in innovation. Moreover, the excellent logistics make it simple and highly cost-effective for us to purchase products from Italian ceramic producers.
What is the state of the construction market in Norway? And how’s the ceramic tile market performing?
In recent years, the construction market has been performing very well and the tile market has remained fairly stable. But due to the Covid-19 situation we certainly expect to face some major challenges over the next two years. From this year’s statistics we are already observing a big drop in tile imports and we are also seeing greater competition from prefabricated bathrooms and products such as vinyl and laminate. Laminate bathroom panels in particular have established a strong presence in the Norwegian market. But we expect to see greater use of ceramic tiles in other potential applications such as exterior façades due to their considerable advantages in terms of installation costs, durability and energy efficiency.
Are your sales focused more on the new construction or renovation segments, on private homes or public buildings?
We sell products for both segments, although our main focus now is on large-scale projects and public buildings. In any case, 30-40% of our turnover is generated from supplies for private homes.
How many employees do you have? What are their professional skills?
There are 65 of us, consisting of interior architects, engineers, construction managers, salespeople and logistics, purchasing and administration staff.
How are your customer services organised?
In the case of large-scale projects, we personally go out to the architects’ premises to assess their specific needs and propose the most suitable product. We have specialist technical staff who work alongside the contractors right through to delivery, and we train the installers who will lay the tiles. As for homeowners, we also provide interior design services with 3D bathroom design and support customers from the moment they enter our shop through to the handover of the finished interior.
How often do you change your showroom layout?
We usually change it partly once a year, between January and February, according to the latest trends seen at Cersaie.
What is your turnover?
We have pre-tax sales of 24 million euros per year.
Italian brands sold
Casa dolce casa, Coem, FAP, Fioranese, Isla Tiles, Mosaico +, Novabell, Pastorelli, Refin, Saime.