The renowned Spanish playing card manufacturer, Fournier, marks its sesquicentennial year at ICE London 2020 with the launch of four commemorative decks designed by four top illustrators. The company’s International Sales Manager Roberto Perea, speaks on their past, present and future ahead of a year of celebration and innovation…
The number of companies who achieve this kind of legacy is very exclusive, what’s been the key to your success for all these years?
From the very beginning of the company, Heraclio Fournier, our founder, had two ‘obsessions’ in mind – being the best and being different to competitors. He did that by refining the product constantly, by bringing printing technologies that were revolutionary at the time and by working with renowned illustrators which created a unique design for the Spanish deck that is still the standard in Spain and Latin American countries to this day. His appetite for innovation, and in a certain way ‘rule breaking’, made him bring the phone, the car, the train and even the plane to Vitoria, where Fournier is still based. He also was a precursor in recruiting women at a time when women’s presence was not significant in the industry.
How have you kept on top of trends within the casino equipment sector especially in recent years as digital continues to grow?
Aside from our quality we have kept on top by continuously bringing new products to the market in order to accommodate the changing needs. For instance we were the first company back in 1993 to produce 100% Plastic Playing cards as paper playing cards could not work properly in the shuffling machines that were used at the time. On the other hand it is true gambling sector has changed significantly in the last 10-15 years but the basics are still there. Why do people play? Because they want to feel emotion and because they want to go through a unique experience, outside of their daily routine. Live gaming brings an unparalleled experience as you can share your experience and your emotions with other people, face-to-face and no screens in between. Wow… that’s powerful, isn’t it?
In terms of your historic anniversary in 2020, what product ranges have been the most successful in the company’s history and how will you be continuing these successes going forward?
In terms of sales I would say both our paper and 100% Plastic playing cards are extremely successful. However, in the last decade, a special mention goes to our Bee-tek Electronic Shoe and our Pre-Shuffled playing cards, which have become a standard for Baccarat and the golden standard for their category, bringing speed and security to the game. Our key for success in the coming years remains the same – passion for what we do and an appetite for innovation.
You are exhibiting again at this year’s ICE London, how many years have you been attending the show and do you have anything special you’ll be showcasing in 2020 as the industry prepares to Step into the Future?
In my case this year will mark my 14th edition. As Fournier, we have been exhibiting at ICE since the very beginning. In the first years alongside John Huxley, who was our global distributors to casinos at the time, and since 2002 with our own booth. For ICE 2020 we will showcase our core products: Fournier and Bee playing cards, our Pre-Shuffled cards and our Bee-tek Electronic Shoe. The latter has proved an amazing tool to bridge the gap between on-line and land based gaming.
Going into your 150th year how do you hope to develop the brand to remain future-proof?
Future is certainly uncertain by nature. However, one thing is for sure, we will keep working everyday as we have done for the last 150 years. We will keep listening to our customers and we will put together our skills and brains to offer the products they need to succeed. Since January 1, 2020 we are now part of the Cartamundi group with whom we share the same values, so the future looks bright.
Looking ahead to your 200th anniversary, where you do you see the casino and gaming industry progressing in the next 50 years and what are your hopes for Fournier?
I am not a visionary but considering the path that the industry has taken in recent years, I personally believe the future will see casinos legalised in more countries such as Brazil and on-line gambling being authorised in more jurisdictions. On the other hand digital, online and land-based casinos will co-exist as each of them satisfies a different need. Therefore operators will offer a combined product portfolio that will integrate remote and land-based gaming. Playing card games in any format will be still there as the magic that is shared around a deck of cards cannot be matched anywhere else. And Fournier will celebrate its 200th anniversary with the same passion as we celebrate our 150th anniversary, by uniting people and saying, let’s play together!