ØRGREEN OPTICS: creative momentum continues as the Danish brand turns 25

Author: clodagh norton

Interview of the Month
April 08, 2022

Henrik Orgreen, Orgreen Optics

Team work and team commitment, solid communication and sheer hard work, with an attitude of openness and affability, have stood the Danish company in good stead through the pandemic of 2020/21…and represent the foundation of its success, stability and growth in 2022, says Henrik Ørgreen, CEO.

Q: As we start 2022, what are your hopes and priorities for the season?

A: Our hope it to get back to much more of the face to face meetings we are used to with more visitors to our new HQ in Copenhagen. We are a customer-driven company and we will always be that. We need to meet up again, spend time with customers, and have those moments to talk. We have stayed well connected - even in lockdowns, there was someone at the end of our phones. But now it’s time to re-connect. Our priorities this year are to continue to focus on growth and innovation that we have achieved, even in 2021. Before the pandemic, we had put in place a lot of investment into resources, personnel, a new headquarters and new collections…this had produced a momentum and growth that we will now push forward – especially since we closed 2021 with business back in full force and an upward growth curve.

Q: Have you experienced “life-changing” “company-changing” moments in the last 24 months since January 2020?

A: 100%. Once you experience a one-off global event like the pandemic you are forced to stop and re-think. It probably has been one of the most important “life events” for me personally, for my employees and for the business…and for many people around the world. It has been a huge moment of reflection – re-evaluation and in the personal sense, certainly I have had more time to consider my priorities and work-life balance. I love my work, I need to work, I love my family, but I also feel 100% committed as an entrepreneur to the business - and accelerating forward. The recent months have also allowed us a crucial development stage. We never “closed” the offices, not even in the most difficult and stark periods of lockdown in 2020, and we were quick to realise that we needed to be more innovative than we had ever been before. Our ability to innovate always propels us ahead. When we moved to our headquarters in March 2020 we had an investment plan, a new showroom, and three collections coming out…during COVID and now, in 2022, we can see that the plan or strategy we had was really working – and would benefit us even more. We are also reconsidering our participation at trade fairs this year, and how we will want to take part in future. So far, we have committed to take part in Opti (Munich) and SILMO (Paris).

\\ Quantum High: the classic round shape model Gal Axy in a combination of titanium and Polyamide

Q: Ørgreen Optics now has an established range of collections with variety of materials - from titanium to acetate through to 3D printed. What is your personal favourite? Which ones will dominate in 2022 and will we see further developments?

A: My personal favourite right now is the Quantum High collection – our combination titanium and 3D printed polyamide. For me, the key thing is the functionality of the frame. I have worn all the different types of models, but the near-to-weightless feel of these styles is so comfortable and light, I am in a period where I feel that this functionality and practicality is ideal. 3D printed polyamide is an excellent new material with excellent properties, there are many opportunities here, and at Ørgreen, it’s here to stay!

Q: And sustainability at Ørgreen Optics?

A: We have embraced this by adopting the sustainable 3D printed polyamide in the Quantum collection. The material is well-known to have little or no wastage, with production on demand. If we talk in general about sustainability, it is key for us to be green and responsible in what we do and for every collection we produce we will look at the materials, the re-use of materials, the packaging, and we improve on every aspect as we go. But we are not a company that pushes this element through marketing or ‘green’ campaigns just to make money.

Q: What releases can we look forward to this season?

A: We have the biggest launch of the year for Opti…with new models in titanium, stainless steel, Quantum and acetate. New sunglasses will also be released too. In January, we have launched 25 new models and in March we are adding at least another 12 models across all our collections. In addition, we will relaunch six new models for our Grand Danois high-end collection featuring prestigious metals like gold, palladium and ruthenium.

Q: Have you changed how you are releasing collections in the current climate and if so what has changed?

A: Yes, the new normal has required it as has our growth. We used to be a titanium business. Now we are a one-stop company with 5 collections in a variety of materials. We needed to change the way we release, and in 2022 you will see a drop every month – with focus on the different collections in the four quarters of the year. Of course, different markets also have different needs and that is another reason we have adopted this new strategy so we can focus in on particular needs.

Q: Some of the opticians we have talked to in the last 12 months who sell your frames say they really appreciate their visits to Copenhagen and the “family atmosphere/relationship. How would you comment on this feedback and is this important?

A: It comes back to the personal relationship, it’s the best type of business relationship you can have. What better way to show what Ørgreen Optics stands for and who we are than inviting our customers to visit us and spend time with us here in Copenhagen? It’s about being together, feeling the Copenhagen culture and getting to know one another so that we have that personal connection. Our new location in the city is incredibly welcoming, it’s not just a showroom, it’s a place that you come into and you immediately feel at home. This, combined with the incredible location and chance to meet the whole team from the designers to the guys working in logistics - brings a lot of value to our work. In 2021, we had eight events and 200 accounts visiting us here in the new building and the feedback was extremely positive. For us this will be an important part of 2022 and we are scaling it up to 25 events throughout the year! We see the outcome and the effect – that’s the best marketing we can invest in.

Q: Is Ørgreen Optics expanding into new markets, or is the current period about consolidation and nurturing of existing business?

A: We are expanding into new markets. We opened an office in the US five years ago and we have been hiring people ever since. We have a strong traction in the North American market and it’s definitely still growing. Our main product is still titanium over there but the percentage of acetate we sell is also very strong. In the States, we are seen already as a one stop brand for everything …acetate, stainless steel, titanium. In Europe, where we have been established in titanium, our accounts have been buying into our other new collections like Quantum and Acetate resulting in excellent organic growth.

Q: What else is in your planning in 2022?

A: This year we celebrate our 25th anniversary! We have planned a global in-house celebration event for all our employees – the agents, factories, and our in-house team – this summer for four days. For our customers we will look forward to celebrating in the second part of the year – may be with a different format – but be ready for something fun!

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