The Global Success Story of Silent Gliss: Navigating Diverse Markets with Versatile Strategies

Silent Gliss are a leading global supplier of internal shading solutions. Since their first patent was registered in 1952, they have been supplying curtain and blind systems to high-end residential and commercial interiors all over the world. Whether you stay in a hotel in Paris, Dubai, Hong Kong or Sydney, there is a high chance your room is fitted with their products. But how does a relatively small company achieve such wide-reaching global success for over 70 years?

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Silent Gliss Germany

Silent Gliss take a versatile approach to global distribution and adopt a wide range of business models according to the diverse needs of specific markets.

Their most established and largest markets are in Europe, and as such these are predominantly run through wholly owned subsidiaries with their own sales teams in the markets advising architects, specifiers and retailers. Products are manufactured in one of two plants in Kent [UK] and Bad Bellingen [Germany]. However, you can find a Silent Gliss sales organisation in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, and in the Nordic and Benelux regions. In Japan business is done through long-standing joint venture with a partner organisation operating within the shading industry. This approach allows a brand presence for key products, presented by an experienced 3rd party seller.

Smaller or developing markets are managed through either exclusive distributors or a network of licensed re-sellers. Exclusivity allows distributors to take a whole-country approach across the various customer sectors. Alternatively, regional agreements allow smaller partners to focus on geographical areas with a high level of service and support. Either way, the commitment that comes from a formal trading arrangement encourages partners to invest in manpower, training, marketing and stock. Silent Gliss continue to work closely with all partners on an ongoing basis them to develop and implement long term growth strategies in their areas.

Silent Gliss UK

In some markets, where larger projects are more commonplace, such as the Middle East and The Americas our distribution network is supported by in-country Silent Gliss employees. These experienced Area Managers work closely with appointed distributors on a day-to-day basis to secure projects and support specifications. The proximity to the market allows them to provide training, provide in-depth product knowledge and site support for large scale developments.

With a population of over 680 million, South East Asia is a key international market for Silent Gliss. However, whilst usually referred to as a single business region, SEA is in fact surprisingly diverse with significant variation between countries with regard to regulations and licensing. And, over recent years, increasing stress within the financial sector and the economy in general has meant bold investments such as opening up local subsidiaries have required some serious and realistic considerations.

Silent Gliss UK Factory

Silent Gliss approach SEA business through a network of 3rd party distributors across the region. Where possible they select partners that already work within the interior specification industry, and are experienced in managing large, complex projects. There are a number of challenges faced on a daily basis.

As technology and economies develop so does the competition. Not just from other brands wanting a share of the prize, but also from low-cost local manufacture and copy products. Never more so has it been more important to ensure the brand positioning and messaging is clear by way of professional showrooms supported by high-end sales support and marketing. Only recently, Silent Gliss have worked closely with a distributor in China to create a strong presence in their new showroom to show customers the values behind their brand.

Silent Gliss Distributor Showroom China

The distance from our global business hub in Kent to SEA is not one that can be easily covered at short notice! In order to provide our distributors with the guidance and support they require, when they require it means having an experienced Area Manager based nearby who travels between the countries on a regular basis.

Distributing product from Kent or Germany to SEA also presents some challenges by way of cost and time. To provide the best service and quality they use a mix of shipped products and local stock and assembly. Being open to different approaches allows them to be agile depending on the needs of specific projects.

Exhibition stand at Design Shanghai

In summary, Silent Gliss put their ongoing international business success down to a versatile structural approach. Sam Shervill, Silent Gliss Global Marketing Manager said:

“One size does not fit all, no matter how much you want it to. We have learnt to invest time understanding the challenges of different regions and countries, and been realistic in what we want to achieve. Sometimes we’ve had to adapt our approach and direction to reflect a changing environment within a country. The main key to success is to stay close to your business no matter how far away it might be. There is no replacement for being in the market, talking to customers and seeing the challenges for yourself. Whether a subsidiary or 3rd party distributor – constant support, communication and understanding local issues allows you to make informed decisions and avoid expensive mistakes.”

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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