By Clodagh Norton

Teamwork 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 and 2021... and represent the foundation of its success, stability and growth in 2022, says Henrik Orgreen, CEO.

CN: What are your hopes and priorities for the new eyewear season?
HO: Our hope is to get back to much more of the face-to-face meetings we are used to with more visitors to our new headquarters 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 reconnect.

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.

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

Have you experienced “life-changing” and “company changing” moments in the last 24 months since January 2020?
One hundred percent. Once you experience a one-off global event like the pandemic, you are forced to stop and rethink. 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 percent 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 realize 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 the future. So far, we have committed to take part in Opti (Munich), Vision Expo East (NYC) and SILMO (Paris).

Orgreen Optics now has an established range of collections with a variety of materials, from titanium to acetate through to 3D printed. What is your personal favorite? Which ones will dominate in 2022 and will we see further developments coming here?
My personal favorite 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 Orgreen, it’s here to stay!

And sustainability at Orgreen Optics?
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 reuse 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.

What releases can we look forward to this season?
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 added 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.

Have you changed how you are releasing collections in the current climate, and if so, what has changed?
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 five 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.

Grand Danois luxury collection

Is Orgreen Optics expanding into new markets, or is the current period about consolidation and nurturing of existing business?
We are expanding into new markets. We opened an office in the U.S. 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 already seen 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 very positive organic growth.

What else is in your planning in 2022?
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, maybe with a different format, but be ready for something fun! ■