Very few brands in the home business get a chance for a second act. Once they have been compromised, dumbed down or even ignored, it’s very hard to bring back a great name, no matter how venerable it was.
That’s why what is happening at Dansk these days is pretty remarkable. Largely relegated to a corner—both literally and figuratively—by a series of previous managements at its corporate owner, Lenox, the brand is being rejuvenated under both a new Lenox president, Lester Gribetz, and Glenn De Stefano, who was brought in to run Dansk.
“When I got here,” said Gribetz, who joined Lenox last year when the company was sold to new owners, “we knew it was important to get Dansk back to its roots. In my day, Dansk was the focal point” of contemporary tabletop.
He said it was critical to bring in a new Dansk president who had both a vision for the brand and the ability to execute it. De Stefano, who had spent eight years at Lenox but had gone over to Rosenthal in 2008, was just the person he was looking for. “He had the best talent I had seen in many years and what he’s doing now at Dansk is brilliant,” Gribetz said.
What he is doing is returning Dansk to the position it once held as a contemporary brand with a strong Scandinavian influence, but updating that to today’s design sensibilities.
“Dansk has always been a lifestyle brand,” De Stefano said, noting it had that image way before the word “lifestyle” became an overused cliché.
“I knew the Dansk story and the viability of the brand. It had gotten caught in the shadow of Lenox, but now it is being allowed to stand on its own.”
The new Dansk positioning puts a big emphasis on gifting, with smart packaging and a big expansion into metal, glass and wood items. In fact 60 percent of the Dansk business is now in non-dinnerware products, reversing the previous make-up of the business.
Giftware items range from $15 to $130 with the heart of the line in the $29 to $79 range. Dinnerware place settings are in the $30 to $49 range.
“We’re driving up the sales per square foot of the line,” De Stefano said because of this change in emphasis away from dinnerware.
In fact Gribetz said that the Dansk planogram set, occupying four feet of space, “doubles the productivity of other products.”
The company felt so confident about the new direction for Dansk that it was the centerpiece of its efforts at the recent Ambiente Fair in Frankfurt in a European market that takes its contemporary design very seriously. The two said they were very happy with how well the line was received there.
There will be more fresh Dansk products this month at the New York Tabletop Show, continuing the new direction for the brand, De Stefano said.
“We are now finally able to give the Dansk brand what it needs to grow.”—Warren Shoulberg
The Classic Fjord Lavender collection includes metal, wood, glass and dinnerware—all the elements of the resurrected Dansk brand.