REFURBISHMENT WITH THE WOW FACTOR
THE NEW ROLF BENZ HAUS FRANKFURT
The refurbishment: a strong team performance. The result: a complete success. The newly designed ROLF BENZ HAUS on the site of the former Union Brewery on Hanauer Landstraße brings the Rolf Benz product world completely to life over 700 square metres. We met Kris Leonhard and Christian Ahrens who manage the store as a duo and are also a team in their private lives.
Congratulations on the new ROLF BENZ HAUS. How did the refurbishment go and what do you think about the results?
Christian Ahrens: Thank you. Redesigning the store was quite a challenge. We had two very intensive weeks with lots of people who were working hard in the background and who handled everything really professionally. We’re super happy with the results.
Kris Leonhard: Fortunately, the store was able to stay open while the work was being done. We were really pleased about that. Especially now that there are fewer Coronavirus restrictions and people just want to buy new furniture for their homes. We’re really grateful to everyone who was involved.
What makes your location on Hanauer Landstraße in Frankfurt’s Ostend district so special?
Christian Ahrens: There couldn’t be a better location for a ROLF BENZ HAUS in the Rhein-Main region. In the past, the Ostend district with its old industrial and brick buildings was better known as a party area. Today, it’s home to plenty of pop-up stores and ateliers. Some luxury apartments have been built here. In addition, the European Central Bank has relocated to Ostend from the inner city, bringing new people to the area and changing the pattern of trade. We are close to the city but have excellent transport links at the same time, just two minutes away from the motorway. It’s a combination that’s hard to beat.
What does the new ROLF BENZ HAUS Frankfurt stand for? Does it have a main focus?
Christian Ahrens: We’re really trying to present the whole Rolf Benz world here, in a way that – I think – is unique throughout the Rhein-Main region. We are showcasing established Rolf Benz furniture systems as well as many new products with enough space so they can really stand out. Everything is nice and open and accessible. It really brings the furniture to life, in all of its facets. This means you can examine the furniture from different angles and perspectives. In this way, all aesthetic aspects and different model and cover variations can be appreciated to their full effect. Everything is presented as visibly and tangibly as possible. I think that’s the biggest advantage that we can offer our customers here. A really special shopping experience that really stands out.
You make a good team in both your private and your professional lives. Who’s responsible for what in the store?
Kris Leonhard: Christian primarily looks after the administrative side of things. He has excellent knowledge of all product-specific and technical details and always has the answer to any conceivable question. I mainly take care of matters relating to interior design. My strengths lie in finding the perfect combination of colour, materials and space. We complement each other really well and often advise customers together.
Christian Ahrens: Teamwork is essential if you want to successfully manage a store like this together. Of course, our customers naturally pick up on how we interact and the image of a unit that we automatically present. We’ve noticed that this is well-received, especially when we advise customers. Our special partnership enables us to provide intensive and comprehensive advice that highlights different aspects.
The keyword there is partnership: how long have you been working together with Rolf Benz and what makes this cooperation different?
Christian Ahrens: We’ve been working with them for a good seven years. Our partnership has continued to intensify during this time. Continuity in terms of our contacts at Rolf Benz in Nagold has meant that we’ve built up a great mutual relationship of trust over time and have even become good friends. Communication with Rolf Benz is exemplary. As a result, projects can be implemented effectively, smoothly, quickly and professionally. Just like our recent refurbishment.
How do your customers perceive the Rolf Benz brand?
Christian Ahrens: Rolf Benz is an established brand with a unique reputation. For our customers, Rolf Benz is a guarantee of “Made in Germany” quality, substance and continuity. Anchoring these attributes in the consciousness of the general public – over decades – is a huge achievement that other brands can only dream of. Regular clients of Rolf Benz tell us time and again that they have pretty much spent their whole lives with Rolf Benz. Their emotional loyalty to the brand is correspondingly strong. For us as salespeople, this is especially convenient since it means we don’t have to explain Rolf Benz any more. That’s a really unique situation that we’ve never come close to experiencing with other furniture brands.
Kris Leonhard: People of all ages know and trust Rolf Benz. People always tell us that their parents used to have Rolf Benz in their living room. You can sense their respect and fundamental trust in the brand. Of course, the aspect of sustainability has come to the fore in recent years. The desire to buy something that will last for a couple of decades is obviously becoming more important.
Rolf Benz has lots of new products in the range. What’s your personal favourite?
Kris Leonhard: That’s a difficult question, there are so many wonderful products. We have recently started selling Rolf Benz KUMO in store and I think that sofa is really great, it’s my new favourite model. I really like organic forms in general. I also like a soft seat. I love the feeling of being cocooned when I lie on the sofa. That’s exactly what KUMO offers so perfectly. I think Rolf Benz KUMO is simply wonderful.
Christian Ahrens: I completely understand why Kris is so enthusiastic. Rolf Benz KUMO is a really great sofa. That’s why it’s right at the front of the store. I’m also really looking forward to the new MEG armchair that’s coming soon. It’s an armchair that looks incredibly elegant and has some great functional features. A perfect enhancement to the Rolf Benz range. People have already started asking us about it. They are also eagerly awaiting the new Rolf Benz JACK armchair. I’m really excited about these two pieces of furniture.
The Rolf Benz range now includes numerous products for different types of lifestyles. In your opinion, does the typical Rolf Benz customer exist?
Kris Leonhard: No. Just like there’s no such thing as the classic Rolf Benz sofa. Here in Frankfurt, the customers who are interested in Rolf Benz furniture couldn’t be any more diverse. Fortunately, the Rolf Benz range provides sufficient scope for individuality and caters for a wide variety of requirements. But, of course, we’ve noticed that quality and longevity are important factors for Rolf Benz customers.
Christian Ahrens: And good design too, naturally. But otherwise, every customer and project really is different and deserves individual, impartial advice. We’re really happy about the diverse customer base here in Frankfurt, since we love variety. What a horrible thought: selling the same grey, off-the-peg sofa over and over again to the same grey customers. I think it’s really refreshing when you meet a customer and you have no idea where the journey will take you. With such an extensive range and so many options for individualisation, it’s always great fun to find the right interior design solution together. We've got the right customers. We’ve got the right range. And we really want to inspire our customers with extraordinary ideas.
Stationary sales versus online shopping – why should people come and visit you in store rather than on the internet?
Kris Leonhard: It’s incredibly important to try out products, to experience them and to feel them, particularly when it comes to furniture. You can feel the different materials here in store, you can discover the colours and structures. You can sit on sofas, armchairs and dining chairs. You get a feel for the product and for what you like and what feels good. That’s something that you simply have to try out. You can’t do that on a screen. Of course, we are happy to advise people beforehand, either online or over the phone, but buying something blind on the internet isn’t a good idea – at least not for furniture, anyway.
What fascinates you about selling furniture?
Kris Leonhard: Interacting with customers, the versatility of the job and meeting people with very different tastes. I find it incredibly exciting to find the right combination of aesthetics, practicality, requirements and comfort. Those are the aspects that I really enjoy. That’s why I wake up every morning full of energy and look forward to my work. In situations where we advise people, we gain a deep insight into the most private areas of their lives. A certain amount of mutual trust is required for that. I see that as good encouragement.
Christian Ahrens: Our furniture planning helps to shape a fundamental aspect of people’s homes and lives, sometimes for the next 25 years. That requires plenty of know-how, experience, finesse and empathy. But it’s always super exciting and so much fun.
Imagine you are stranded on an island together. What piece of furniture would you like to have with you?
Kris Leonhard: I’ll give you three guesses... I’d choose Rolf Benz KUMO, of course! I could sit down on it comfortably to watch the sea and I’m sure it would be great to sleep on as well.
Christian Ahrens: That’s easy: definitely a huge NUVOLA corner sofa between eight and twelve metres in size. I’d be able to snuggle up and enjoy the island to the full. Since our living room is a bit too small for the sofa, spending some time on an island sounds pretty good to me.
How is your home furnished?
Kris Leonhard: Our personal luxury consists of two relatively small apartments. In our main apartment, the focus is on a spacious open kitchen with a big, inviting dining table. That’s where we like to eat, have fun, meet friends and family and spend wonderful evenings together. It’s a charming apartment in an old building with high stucco ceilings and wonderful old wooden floorboards. The furniture is relatively low-key and reserved so that the rooms can make an impact. The dominant colours are clean white and oak and the decorations are also somewhat reserved and pragmatic. Our second apartment is very small with 35 square metres and we use it as a cosy retreat. There are plenty of places to sit and lie down on various levels and lots of little details made from different types of materials – it’s a cosy oasis of well-being that we’ve put our heart and soul into. You could say it’s our own little island right in the middle of the city.
Thank you very much for talking to us. We wish you lots of success with the newly designed ROLF BENZ Haus, hope that you continue to enjoy working as a team, and wish you good fortune in advising your international clientele.