hefra

About Hefra

HEFRA - luxury brand with Polish soul

Warszawska Fabryka Platerów HEFRA S.A., the Warsaw-based plating factory, whose tradition goes back 193 years, is the only producer in Poland of exclusive cutlery and tableware made entirely from sterling silver of the best 925 purity, or plated with finest silver of the 999 purity,as well as made from 18/10 stainless steel. The company was originally founded in 1824 by Alfonse Fraget, an entrepreneur who came to Warsaw from France. A few years later, his brother Joseph joined the company and introduced to the factory the latest technologies and machines used in the plating industry so that it was nothing short of the world-best and most technologically-advanced ones operating in Paris at that time. Almost instantly the state-of-the-art Fraget factory became a valued supplier of exquisite silver and silver-plated cutlery for the wealthy elite, the aristocracy and the most influential people in Poland and abroad.

 Hefra

Continuously introduced improvements and new methods of plating secured the Fraget factory a position among the most modern industrial plants of the then Warsaw. At the time of its founder's death in 1867, the factory had 250 employees, 24 iron lathes, a modeling shop, a foundry, a drill workshop, a carpentry workshop, and mechanical scissors and fans, instead of more commonly used bellows, which were all operated by a steam engine with powerful boilers.

The Henneberg Brothers factory

Yet the competition did not sleep. In 1856, one of the former employees of the Fraget brothers - Julius Joseph Henneberg - opened his own silverware business, which was equally successful, but applied even more cutting-edge technology. In 1878, as the first one in the country, the Henneberg factory used white metal to produce cutlery. In 1884, the production value doubled from 60,000 rubles up to 120,000 rubles, whereas in 1888 the headcount jumped from 107 to 166 workers.

Hefra Fraget

The Henneberg Brothers factory had its own-branded shops in Warsaw at 1 Trzebacka Street, 12 Nalewki Street, and at the Hotel Europejski, as well as in Moscow. Moreover, it had three representative offices in St. Petersburg, Tyflis (Tbilisi) and Irkutsk.

However, Fraget’s iconic models and exquisite silver embroidering techniques still led the way. After the death of Joseph Fraget in 1867, the factory was taken over by his son Julian, who was committed to not only maintaining the high quality of its products, but also ensuring that the company employed highly-qualified Polish specialists and workers.

HEFRA as a multiple award-winning leader

From 1884, the Fraget company started to expand production of silverware of the 840 purity. In search of inspiration, the company used motifs created by Polish artists and cooperated with e.g. Siemiradzki and Kucharzewski. For fear of competition and counterfeiting, it maintained its own-branded stores in such cities as Tyflis (Tbilisi), Constantinople (Istanbul), Lviv, Minsk, Zhitomir, Grodno, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kharkiv, Odessa, Kiev, Vilnius, and Lodz.

The company presented its products at numerous exhibitions, winning a number of prestigious awards:

• In 1828 and 1838, the great silver medal in Warsaw

• In 1838, the gold medal on the ribbon of St. Stanislaus

• In 1839, the minor silver medal in St. Petersburg

• In 1841, the gold medal on the ribbon of St. Anna in Warsaw

• In 1857, the gold medal on the ribbon of St. Wlodzimierz in Warsaw

• In 1861, the great silver medal in St. Petersburg

• In 1865, the small gold medal in Moscow

• In 1867, the bronze medal in Paris

• In 1870, the silver medal in St. Petersburg

In 1890, 400 workers were working for Fraget and the total capacity of its machines was 85 hp, while the production value was estimated at 781,000. rubles. At the same time, Henneberg Brothers employed 168 workers, their machines had the capacity of 40 hp and their production value reached 170,000 rubles.

Historia hefra

After World War One, both Fraget and Henneberg Brothers enjoyed excellent sales results. Polish silverware entered the markets of countries such as Bulgaria, Persia, Greece, Romania and even China. In 1928, the King of Afghanistan ordered Fraget cutlery and artistic tableware for his court. The company promised to adapt its production to the tastes of Afghans and was set to launch a store in Kabul. Among its clients were also European monarchs, e.g. the King of Serbia and the King of Romania, as well as the Shah of Persia. At this time, Fraget opened its own-branded stores in Mashhad, Alexandria and Cairo.

Back in Poland, Fraget factories were supplying leading hotels and casinos, as well as ministries and government institutions. Fraget cutlery was in use in the Hotel Bristol, the most luxurious hotel in Warsaw, and even on the MS “Batory”, a Polish ocean-liner, during its maiden cruise from Gdynia to New York in 1936. Characterized by exceptional elegance, the ship, like MS “Pilsudski”, was intended to serve as a floating salon promoting Polish culture around the world. The interior decor was taken care of by a special committee, which designed everything from the decoration of individual cabins to details such as tableware and menus.

Throughout 1907-1930, Henneberg Brothers products were awarded a total of 6 gold medals, 4 silver and 1 bronze. They were sold by the company’s representatives in Poznań, Cracow, Lviv, Vilnius, Wloclawek and Gdansk. Before the Great Depression, the company also had representative offices abroad: in Romania, Persia, Bulgaria, Greece, South Africa (Port Elisabeth), Canada and China (Charbin and Shanghai). At that time, it employed 280 workers, including 6 technical support employees and 10 office clerks.

Fraget + Hennenberg = HEFRA

After World War Two, the factories of both Fraget and Henneberg Brothers, having been largely destroyed and plundered during the war, were nationalized. Efforts were made to resurrect the companies, but they failed to restore them to their former glory. Therefore, on 1 January 1965, the former Fraget merged with the former Henneberg Brothers. From the names of their founders, the new brand HEFRA was coined, under which the company is known till today.

Sklep Hefra

The fame of HEFRA came to flourish again in the grey days of communism. In the 1980s, the highly sought-after HEFRA cutlery sets, especially the silver-plated ones, became all the rage among millions of Poles, which was perfectly reflected by the notoriously long queues in front of factory outlets in Jana Kazimierza Street and Ogrodowa Street in Warsaw. Unfortunately, the newly-won popularity of the brand came to an abrupt end once the economic slump set in only a decade later. In the wake of the crisis, only one Warsaw factory, out of all the other dynamically operating ones, survived. Sales plummeted by more than 20% and the future of the company became uncertain.

Luckily, the tradition of HEFRA founders once again helped the company to prevail adverse conditions. Sale of silver as a raw material was no longer economically viable. It was much profitable to process it in own factories and sell as ready products with much higher margins - especially since HEFRA had had a well-established brand around the world for years. The new strategy proved successful ultimately thanks to the customers who, faced with the choice between exquisite HEFRA silverware and many other plain and ordinary products on offer, opted for the uniqueness of the former. Undoubtedly, another advantage of HEFRA products was its investment potential. Like gold, silver was considered a very attractive investment opportunity.

A beautiful story that goes on…

Although over the years the company has changed owners several times - now being in private hands – there is one thing that has never changed – the HEFRA brand continues to focus on what is most valuable, that is tradition and the high quality of its products. Nearly 200 years later, silverware still finds the appreciation of customers and the history of Fraget and Henneberg products continues to be written. Moreover, HEFRA is still the only Polish manufacturer of silver and silver-plated cutlery and tableware. All HEFRA products are still hand-made. And the brand invariably remains faithful to its original image, which is Polish luxury.

Hefra salon

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