Emil Henry or handicrafts in the digital age

Emile Henry’s “Huff Dish”, or oval oven dish, was already in its catalog in the early 20th century.e Centuries and everything suggests that it originated from the source of this culinary ceramic company, officially made in 1850, but probably born two or three decades ago. Admittedly, the “hoof dish”, to which a hundred references have been added (tatin tart mold, tajin, fruit bowl, vinegar balls, etc.), has since been decorated with more colors at Air de Temps: Grand Crew Red, Provence Yellow, and Calank. Blue

But its design, made with clean lines, remains almost unchanged. Similar to its making, handmade and made in France, at the Marcigny factory (Saône-et-Loire), this small family of 320 employees swings ETI and has a combined turnover of 40 million euros, 80% of which is for Emile Henry brand products made outside of France.

If the company, which is exported to more than 50 countries, is stylishly connected with its centuries-old knowledge and manufacturing in France, often differing internationally – such as the Korean, American or Australian markets – it does not explore. Digital opportunities. “We must follow the evolution of our customers who use more and more online,” said Emanuel Veganer, commercial director of Emile Henry.

A centralized database

It is precisely to streamline relationships with its customers, “retailers” and e-commerce sites that Emile Henry has started his digital project by dematerializing his product database. “In a world where everything except cooking has to be fast, which we want to be slow, we need to focus on our range of content internally and to facilitate the exchange of information with our customers,” explained Sabine Claus, marketing director for Emil Henry. The company has become a SaaS solution, “which we have redesigned to adapt to our specific needs”. With the goal of always sticking faithfully to its history and its ecosystem, the brand is slowly considering moving to the cloud.

Yet, innovation is not only a question of equipment, but also of texture and organization. Thus, the new research and development laboratory, which was inaugurated in early 2022, and where slip, or clay pastes and enamels are specially made, is located within the factory.

“Keeping R&D at home allows us to improve faster. After all, by installing it as close to production as possible, we can immediately, test everything on the industrial circuit: it is more effective to ensure that the part meets the customer’s expectations ” , Like his brother Jean-Baptist Henry, the current CEO.

Home-made machines have been made

The latter, who joined the company as a sales representative in 2007, took the reins following his father Jack Henry ten years ago (see box below). Regarding the creation of the new laboratory, the manager acknowledged that “any move raises questions that we have not considered before.”

Especially to respond to new uses. For example, if Emil Henry was introduced at a time when people were cooking with wood, the brand would have passed without the gas and electricity revolution.

In terms of production, “automation began in the 1980s, and has been co-designed, or even fully developed, in-house with many of our machine manufacturers,” said Pierre-Benoit Henry, a proponent of step-by-step conversion. What compels him to say: “Artificial intelligence, we can come to this but, for the moment, we focus on hand intelligence.”

From Pottery Studios to E-Commerce: Six Generations of Henry

1850 : A workshop on terraces, soup turin, jugs and other earthenware was established in Marseille, by Potter Jack Henry.

1900 : The ceramics of the house, inspired by Paul Henry, the son of the founder, invited themselves to the great Parisian table.

1922 : Due to the war its staff was depleted, the workshop was re-launched by Jack’s grandson Emil Henry, who is an experienced man himself.

1955 : Maurice Henry, the fourth named, has modernized production techniques, including the art of earth and fire.

1982 : The house takes the name “Emil Henry”, in homage to the then-manager’s grandfather, Jack Henry, who developed the ranges.

2012 : Initiated by Maurice Henry, the scale of internationalization is changing, especially through digital, the son of the previous boss, Jean-Baptist Henry, who is focusing on internal and external growth, such as the takeover of jerseys in late 2016.

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