industry insider | Mar 20, 2020 |
Donghia shutters showrooms, lays off most staff
Boh staff
By Staff

According to multiple sources with knowledge of the company’s workings, Donghia shuttered its nine showrooms and laid off most of its employees on Thursday. The company will maintain a reduced presence in its Milford, Connecticut, corporate office.

Donghia has been owned by Italian textiles brand Rubelli since 2005, and represented the parent company’s line in the U.S. A source with knowledge of the company’s plans said that moving forward, Rubelli will pursue distribution in multiline showrooms throughout the country, while the Donghia brand—which has been quietly shopped around the industry for more than a year—remains for sale.

Though the company’s recent struggles were quietly acknowledged in the design community, the news came abruptly, leaving representative lines scrambling to find a new venue to sell their wares. Donghia currently reps a wide range of makers, from Boyd Lighting to Missoni Home. As of today, several hadn’t been informed of the news.

“They had been struggling for a while; at one point, we were in most of their showrooms, then it started to dwindle,” an employee of a company repped by Donghia who asked not to be named, told Business of Home. “It’s sad for the legacy of Angelo Donghia.”

Founded in 1968 by designer Angelo Donghia, the company grew in the succeeding decades to encompass a furniture business, a fabric line, and a thriving network of multiline showrooms. When Donghia passed away in 1985, the business continued on as a private company.

In 2005, Donghia was purchased by European textiles company Rubelli and a conglomerate of investors including German textile company Sahco Hesslein and Italian glass company Seguso Viro. In recent years, the company has experienced a period of frequent change at the top.

In May 2018, Andrea Rubelli replaced Jonathan Witmer, who had joined as CEO in February 2017. Rubelli then handed over the reins to longtime Ralph Lauren executive Cheryl Sterling in 2019. At the time, the company was struggling to do business online, and suffering from a lack of traction on the residential side. “We haven’t seen much increase of foot traffic in our trade showrooms,” Rubelli told BOH at the time.

In recent months, vendors and suppliers had struggled to get paid by the company. Some began refusing to release their shipments until payment had been received—triggering delays that left sales reps in a quandary. “They were losing their reputation with their clients,” says one former employee who asked to remain anonymous.

At press time, the company had not responded to multiple requests for comment.

Homepage image courtesy of Donghia

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