Investment fund EMH Partners sees great international potential in high-end smart home applications of luxury brand Basalte
Basalte, the developer and manufacturer of sophisticated high-end technologies for smart luxury homes from the East Flanders town of Merelbeke, is partnering with German investment fund EMH Partners. The Munich-based private equity group, with more than 1 billion euros under management, is acquiring a significant minority interest in Basalte and will boost the company’s further growth internationally. ‘For us, this is a significant step towards realising our enormous growth potential,’ says Klaas Arnout, founder and CEO of Basalte. ‘It was the perfect time to start a new phase in our growth and become the first global luxury design brand in the field of smart homes.’ EMH Partners is an investment fund operating in Germany, Austria and, Switzerland. It is now investing outside this region for the first time. The parties do not disclose how much EMH Partners is investing. Founders and owners Klaas Arnout and Sandra Maes will continue to run the company.
In Belgium, the name Basalte is not familiar to many people. But the Merelbeke company has a long history in the world of Arab sheikhs, royal families, international top footballers, popular DJs, rich entrepreneurs, and top architects. In recent years, Basalte has drawn a lot of attention with its highly intuitive and minimalist control system designed for smart homes. These allow you to centrally control lighting, sun awnings, air conditioning, music, and security in your home.
Combining high-quality design with smart technology
Starting with the creation of a light switch in 2008, the entrepreneurial couple Arnout and Maes succeeded in designing a complete ecosystem based on an autonomous server in the home. So, users can control lighting, temperature, music, and security in every room of their home. And they do so in a very intuitive way using a designer switch, an app, or a remote control. Everything is connected so that the resident can enjoy the ultimate comfort in their home. Ease of use, sophisticated technology, and minimalist design typifies Basalte’s luxury products.
’The biggest pitfall of some smart home technologies is that they are hard to use. We made sure all complex systems in a home are streamlined and work together. It took years to develop the platform and software. We combine this with a refined design in high-quality materials. Our constant focus on quality, design, and technology means we are now top of mind in the luxury segment of smart homes,’ says Klaas Arnout, CEO of Basalte.
About 90% of production is destined for foreign countries. Germany is the most important sales market in Europe. Basalte also focuses on clusters, such as the Côte d’Azur in France, Marbella in Spain, and the Spanish Balearic Islands. But the Middle East is also gaining in importance. And the US market will also be tapped at the same time.
The last few years went by very quickly and the company grew organically to a turnover of 11.2 million euros in 2021 (30% more than in 2020). By the end of this year, Basalte aims to achieve a growth in turnover of more than 40% compared to last year.
New growth phase of the family business
Arnout and Maes had toyed with the idea of inviting a new financial partner on board for some time. But the time was not yet ripe. That is, until today. All the puzzle pieces are now coming together. The products are top-of-line and the demand for high-end technology for smart homes continues to grow. EMH Partners’ contribution will ensure that Basalte grows into a genuine global player.
’The arrival of EMH Partners gives us financial wings. Our goal is to become the first global luxury design brand in the smart home segment. This investment helps us accelerate our growth and gain more visibility. We will continue to expand our product portfolio and recruit additional people in all departments of the company. We will also continue to tap the American market. EMH is the ideal partner to support us in all of our plans. They believe in our dream and are familiar with our sector. The founders of the fund were once successful entrepreneurs themselves. They are the ideal partner to move us forward,’ says Sandra Maes, COO of Basalte.
In the short term, Basalte will invest in a new showroom in Düsseldorf, Germany. Plans for showrooms in Amsterdam and Munich are also on the table.
EMH Partners is an investment fund established by and for entrepreneurs. It focuses on medium-sized enterprises and utilises capital and expertise to help them grow further. Companies it has invested in include Brainlab, a global leader in software-driven medical technology, Occhio, a German manufacturer of high-end lighting systems, and Design Offices, the German market leader in corporate co-working.
‘In the past, we repeatedly proved how we help medium-sized companies in their continued expansion and how we fully maximise their potential. For example, we made sure that Occhio, a German specialist in high-end lighting, became an international market leader. We see many similarities with Basalte. Their strong revenue growth in recent years convinced us that we can help Basalte develop further into a global player in the luxury smart home segment. The interplay between design and technology makes Basalte a unique company that we are happy to invest in,’ says Simon Joha, EMH Partners.
Exclusive designer switches Made in Belgium
What is unique for Basalte is that the design, development, and assembly of all products occur entirely at the Merelbeke site. And all workshops it collaborates with for the delivery of materials, such as bronze, aluminium, or nickel, are also located in Belgium. And no request is too unusual. Basalte recently delivered dozens of gold-plated light switches for a palace in the Middle East.
iPad holders in Apple headquarters
The company first made its presence felt about five years ago. Apple asked Basalte’s permission to use the iPad holders it had developed in its offices in Japan, China, Australia, and finally in its headquarters in Cupertino, California. A request Basalte was happy to fulfil. So even today, you can see iPad holders made by Basalte at the entrance to the meeting rooms in all of Apple’s offices worldwide.