BONZ and its successful pivot to home furnishing - Lifestyle NZ
BONZ and its successful pivot to home furnishing

BONZ and its successful pivot to home furnishing

When borders closed in early 2020, BONZ had to pivot. Much of its original clientele was barred from entering the country, so BONZ considered how to use its expertise in wool, sheepskin, leather and fur, and turn it into something the domestic market would love.

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Since 1972, BONZ (Best of New Zealand) has been a reliable presence in the New Zealand market, providing premium-quality, handcrafted products using sheepskin, leather, wool and possum fur — including apparel, homewares, and furniture.

Its range wasn’t always so diverse, though. For most of its early years, it focused its efforts purely on apparel, where it made a name for itself both at home and abroad. The international market was by far its largest segment, with many foreigners enamoured with the unique New Zealand materials and craftsmanship.

However, when borders closed and the world locked down in early 2020, the company had to pivot. Much of its original clientele was barred from entering the country, so BONZ considered how to use its expertise in wool, sheepskin, leather and fur, and turn it into something the domestic market would love.

The solution? Furniture — from chairs to coffee tables, ottomans to sofas. BONZ took its half century’s worth of experience in working with these materials and channelled it into home furnishings.

The company's shift to furniture has been a success.

From clothing to furniture

Oscar Rodwell, the managing director of BONZ Group New Zealand, says it was a major turning point, but it’s turned out to be a major success.

“It’s a total shift from our past,” says Oscar. “When the pandemic hit, we had to sit down as a team and discuss the hard topic: how do we survive this thing? We decided on home furnishings, with a focus on furniture — and it worked.”

It wasn’t a total shot in the dark: BONZ diversified its catalogue a few years before the pandemic, offering homewares including fur throws, cushions and rugs. But hard furniture is a whole new ball game, and Oscar said many lessons were learned.

“We started small, we hired people who specialised in furniture, and slowly we’ve refined our skill, developed our own style and I think we’ve found a groove in the space,” he says.

So much so, he explains, that the company has decided to open a brand-new retail store in Queenstown — dedicated solely to BONZ’s furniture products.

BONZ will soon open a store in Queenstown dedicated to furniture.

A new venture: The BONZ HOME store

“This Queenstown HOME store is the first physical presence of our new furniture range, and we’re all really excited to see how it grows,” says Oscar. “We have a really strong customer base in the Queenstown Lakes, and we’ll be situated in the CBD across from the Novotel at 7 Earl Street — so while we have a focus on the domestic market, we still expect some travellers to wander in too.”

The new store will focus on BONZ’s sheepskin furniture range, which is ‘exceedingly unique’ to BONZ, and quite a niche product in the New Zealand furniture market. This will include occasional chairs, sofas, ottomans, beanbags and more — all crafted in the company’s manufacturing facility in Invercargill, using its tried and true methods of working with sheepskin.

While the emphasis will be on its new furniture range, Oscar says there will be other products available at the BONZ HOME store.

“We're also going to be featuring our homewares, including our possum and alpaca throws,” he says. “We're also working with some rug tufting artists to produce some unique woollen artwork — creating landscape designs using rug tufting.

“There’s so much new, different stuff — it’s an exciting time.”

Opening in June, the Queenstown store is a physical representation of BONZ’s transition: pivoting from what it’s used to do and trying its hand at good quality, New Zealand-made, handcrafted furniture, with much of its products in this segment will be exported to markets such as the UAE and the UK. 

This is a key point of pride in the company: a reversal of the supply chains woes seen elsewhere, with quality New Zealand-made goods going into markets that value them highly.

“We’re really proud of what we do, and we’re proud of where we do it.”

Learn more about BONZ and its new range of furniture.

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