Meet the Team

Meet the Team: Orangebox Middle East & Africa


25 Sep , 2018  

Love That Design met with the team to learn about their recent successes and challenges, and the future of Orangebox in the Middle East & Africa.


From 2009, when Orangebox Middle East & Africa first opened its doors in the region, their team has grown in both size and experience. And the year 2017 was Orangebox’s most successful by far in the Middle East & Africa, with 2018 looking even more positive.

“2017 was a breakthrough one for us in South Africa,” says Anne Barron, Regional Manager MEA. “But in the UAE, with the launch of our own Smartworking showroom in Dubai Design District, and headline products like Eva, 2018 is looking incredibly strong too. Beyond that, we are looking to grow the team and support our clients in the best possible way we can.

 

 

“We invest heavily in our Research & Development, to the point where it has had a tremendous effect on our product development and Smartworking portfolio. The research helps us better understand the challenges our clients face, and we can then create the necessary design solutions to address them,” says Barron.

The biggest triumph for Orangebox in the last fiscal year was growth in international exports. They opened two international showrooms (one in Dubai and the other in New York) in two different continents. The team admits that Launching showrooms is never easy as it stretches all parts of the business, from design to delivery, but it is apparent that Orangebox’s their love of exporting the brand is what drives them. The company is keen expand across the world so clients can have access to their collaborative working solutions in all markets.

 


“The fact that we are on the ground, and available for any support to customer queries, gives people the confidence to work with us” – Anne Barron, Regional Manager, MEA


 

On working in this region (Middle East and Africa)…

A lot of Orangebox’s clients are on big change programs, and the investment in their spaces is high. Furthermore, according to them, there is a tighter knit industry in the MEA region, which makes projects more enjoyable from start to finish.

“I remember Phil Robbins, Orangebox’s Export Director, speaking to me about their plan for the GCC, and I’ll always remember the clarity of it,” says Barron. “He said that our business had a core value – product innovation born from unbiased market insight. And he was right. There’s no truer place in the world where that value matches so harmoniously than the dynamic environment of the GCC.”

The Orangebox strategy, when trying to establish a presence in the Middle East & Africa, is the same as it would be in any new marketplace – putting in the hard graft required to build awareness of the brand and develop relationships with their customer base. This has given Orangebox a solid foundation to build on. Barron attributed their recent success to being there for customers and offering them a high level of support.

“A major contributing factor to our success is visibility,” she says. “Dubai is a very transient part of the world and we believe that being present, stable and consistent in this region makes us an attractive company to work with.” Clients and designers are more aware of Orangebox because the team is visible now with a constant presence in the Middle East. They have also developed strong relationships with experienced and reliable dealer partners, who helped them understand local requirements. “Plus the fact that we are on the ground, and available for any support to customer queries, gives people the confidence to work with us,” she says.

Nichola Harrison

Title: Sales Support & Showroom Manager
Hobby: Baking, Travelling and Charity Work  
Favourite Holiday Destination: The Alps

Anne Barron

Title: Regional Manager – MEA
Hobby: Yoga, Following Gaelic Sports and Walking
Favourite Holiday Destination: Anywhere I haven’t been before!

Jack Lewis

Title: Business Development Manager – MEA
Hobby: Spurs and Hurricanes Rugby
Last Favourite Holiday: Christmas in New York

But merely having good people on the ground isn’t enough. “Success depends on working productively as a team, not only with colleagues in the region, but also with the wider Orangebox family,” says Barron.

“I think the passion that we have in the Dubai office is recognised by the market, and this has helped to make us a company that people want to work with, and to work for. However, the contribution the team here in Dubai makes to our success is only one part of the story. Colleagues elsewhere across the globe have shared their research, product knowledge and case study information with us, and also been generous in sharing their client and partner relationships. All of this allows our market share to grow.

 

On market recession, survival and success…

Being able to call on the support of colleagues has really helped the team, but success didn’t happen overnight. Jack Lewis, Business Development Manager, MEA, describes how he had to roll up his sleeves and work tirelessly.

“When I arrived in August 2015, market conditions were tough,” says Lewis. “There is relative stability now in the surrounding countries, and the competitive prices of oil and gas have had a dramatic effect on the economy. But, while brand building is always challenging, we do appear to be over the hump and gaining momentum.”

Lewis believes that some of the best opportunities lie beyond the boundaries of the city. “The countries and cities I cover, not just Dubai but also Riyadh, Johannesburg, Jeddah and Cape Town, are all so different and dynamic in their own right, with some having seen incredible growth in a short period of time. We have very strong partners in the region, who have helped us overcome each market’s specific challenges, and our growing reputation has contributed to this period of expansion. We continue to evaluate new markets, and that’s where we see our future growth.”


“We continue to evaluate new markets, and that’s where we see our future growth” – Jack Lewis, Business Development Manager, MEA


Worth mentioning, is the supportive, tight-knit spirit of the local team, which helps them weather the ups and downs in the region. Sales Support & Showroom Manager, Nichola Harrison observes, “Being part of the larger Orangebox family is great, but we also feel like a small startup here. Having a supportive culture is vital in Dubai and across the region. We’re dealing with a vast area, and need all the help we can get, so we really look out for each other.”

 

On upcoming, innovative products…

Orangebox plans to address the challenges facing commercial interior environments, privacy in particular, as it is still a large issue for open-plan spaces. In the next six months, they promise new platforms that will tackle the lack of privacy in offices, giving people the confidence that their area is secure, and that they cannot be overheard or interrupted.

“Product innovation is a great differentiator for Orangebox, and we’re going to continue delivering exciting furniture to help create better workplaces for our global clients,” says Barron. “We’re excited for the future, and also for the launch of our new showroom!”


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