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Tepperman’s opens in Kitchener

The exterior of Tepperman’s new store in Kitchener, Ontario.
29 July 2016
Retail

KITCHENER, Ontario – Tepperman’s, the third generation full-line furniture retailer has opened its fifth store and its first new location in eight years, in this fast-growing, high-tech centred community an hour’s drive west of Toronto.

Andrew Tepperman, president of the Windsor, Ontario-based regional chain, told Home Goods Online opening in Kitchener was the next natural step after opening a new facility in London in 2008 (they entered that market in 1997).

“It’s a growing community with a diverse demographic,” he noted, adding they purposely built their London distribution centre large enough to service an expansion to Kitchener, which he believes has great potential to grow Tepperman’s overall business.

“Waterloo Region is one of the most diverse markets in Ontario – with the technology sector, universities, manufacturing and agriculture, it has a wide range of growing industries,” Tepperman said. “More recently, with the escalating cost of housing in Toronto, people are moving to the Kitchener area to liven and then commuting back to the city. GO Train service is increasing and they’re in the process of building a light rail transit system throughout the region. I recently attended the mayor’s state of the city address and feel very confident about where the city is going.”

The opening of the store – located at 1415 Huron Road – was the culmination of a planning effort that began in 2009 with an exploration of potential new markets. “It’s an incredibly long process to find the right location, then working with city administration, design and construction,” Tepperman said. “We have a history of opening stores in the middle of major recessions. This is first time we’ve opened during a housing boom.”

He also admits he and his brother Noah – who is Tepperman’s secretary-treasurer – thought long and hard about whether to even add another store to the network. “These days, running a successful one store business is every challenging – even when you have a stellar reputation,” Andrew Tepperman said. “Some companies seem to add stores just to grow revenue. We’re slow to grow and we do it strategically, knowing we can afford to do it but also knowing we have to have the right people to manage a store in a new market. Today, we have the right people and the right leadership in place to do this.”

This was also the first time the 91-year old merchant assigned an outside design firm to develop the store’s exterior and interior – in this case, Martin Roberts Design, a leading New York commercial design firm well known for its work creating retail furniture stores in both Canada and the United States. Tepperman says the final product leverages both modern features and the latest technology to elevate the buying experience for their newest customers.

“This store looks nothing like any of our other locations,” he says, noting the 70,000 square foot facility houses a 50,000 square foot Tepperman’s store, a 10,000 square foot Bargain Annex and 10,000 square foot for warehousing. “The warehouse section was designed to be twice the height of the store, allowing us to accommodate more product for the growing world of e-commerce and the ‘buy online and pick-up in store’ model.”

“The first thing a consumer will notice when the open the doors is this store is different,” Tepperman says. “From an open decompression area that allows the customer to become adjusted to the lighting and colours, to the defined tiled pathways, to the central welcome centre, the kids’ area, beverage café and digital interactive kiosks, this store is designed to provide an engaging experience.”

He notes the defined tile pathways allowed Tepperman’s to create more defined displays. “We were also able to create strike points throughout the store,” he remarks. “We added an accessory wall which provides that ‘wow’ experience and enhanced other areas such as our custom order upholstery section, our [email protected] electronics department while bringing in some additional categories like built-in appliances.”

When the London store opened a few years ago, Tepperman’s enhanced the pick-up experience by installing a drive-through winder and a covered canopy to protect customers from the weather. “We used that model in the new store but did something different by creating a connection from the store to the pick-up area so the customer can get the pick-up going before even getting into their car.”

While he’s pleased with the result, it’s a little too soon to decide whether to incorporate any of Kitchener’s new design elements into other Tepperman’s locations – which in addition to London and Windsor include Chatham and Sarnia. “Our plan is to analyse and assess how our staff and customers function and interact in this new design,” Tepperman says. “Part of any successful retailer’s plan is to keep evolving. I spend a lot of time visiting best-in-class retailers, within and outside our industry and today I would put the Kitchener experience up against anything. However, I know what looks great today will become mainstream and less exciting tomorrow so I can’t say exactly what renovations and new stores will look like in the future.”

Andrew Tepperman, who will soon celebrate his tenth anniversary as president of the family-owned company, says Tepperman’s will continue looking for growth opportunities while admitting there are no immediate plans for store number six.

“We do have a ten-vision, a technology roadmap, a capital investment schedule and annual strategic plans,” he says. “Everything we do is linked together. This provides clarity and alignment to our team.”

The company also operates under a simple guiding principle – When we do it right…they will come back! “That really defines what we do every day,” Tepperman says. “It says that we’re not in this just to make a sale today. We’ve been in business for 91 years now and that’s not by luck. Everything we do has an eye on the future.”

That means they are not going to immediately discount an opportunity to grow, whether it’s through acquisition, renovation or expansion. “Everything is on the table,” Tepperman says. “What can I can? Every time we open a new store we raise the bar. With Kitchener, we raised the bar very high for ourselves and perhaps even the industry. There are stores much larger than ours but we’re created something special that provides an amazing experience. I can’t even imagine what the next store will look like.”

Related Story: Tepperman's going to Kitchener
Related Story: Tepperman's new London store wins regional design construction award

Hello Sunshine celebrates what really makes a happy home

29 July 2016
Retail

TORONTO – Leon’s has once again turned to its own customers to be both the inspiration and the source of its latest advertising and promotion effort with the recent online publication of Hello Sunshine, their guide to what really makes a happy home.

It’s the second in a series of digital publications – called a look book – created by Leon’s team of Hello Yellow bloggers, according to Autumn Hachey, social media manager for the banner, one of two owned and operated by publicly-held Leon’s Furniture Limited (the other being The Brick).

“The Hello Yellow blog is a lifestyle and home blog powered by influencers that shares helpful tips and tricks for a happy home,” Hachey explains, adding, “The Hello Sunshine look book is an extension of the blog – one where we turn those blog posts into magazine-like content in an easy to read format.”

Seen here is the cover of Hello Sunshine, a new digital magazine published by Leon’s. The content was created by a team of six bloggers from across the country that also happen to shop at Canada’s largest furniture retailer.Published in late June and available through the Leon’s website, the 90-page digital look book not only features written content from these bloggers – who are real people living in various communities across Canada who already publish their own blog and have an interest in home furnishings, furniture and décor – but also photographs taken in their own homes.

“There are no ‘studio’ shots within this look book,” Hachey says, adding, “All of the product shown in the look book is shop-able (that is, everything shown can either be found on the floor at Leon’s or on its web site).”

The content intertwines projects and stories from the blog into something Hachey hopes will inspire the consumer. “The entire look book has a ‘real life’ lens to every story, which is about more than just aesthetics – it’s about real life and how, for these people, Leon’s has become part of the family.”

Hachey can’t stress strongly enough that Hello Sunshine isn’t a typical advertorial magazine or catalogue. “It’s about the stories first and the product second,” she maintains. “Also, the projects, tips and life lessons that are sprinkled throughout its pages to keep it engaging and interesting wouldn’t be found in a typical catalogue.”

The current team of influencers are six women bloggers from different parts of Canada and all are in different stages of life. “One of our bloggers has kids in diapers while another’s are just graduating from high school,” Hachey says, adding each gives a slightly different perspective to the issues around creating a home.

Already known as one of the most aggressive advertisers in the Canadian furniture industry, Leon’s is also using Hello Sunshine and its blogger network to leverage its efforts on social media, particularly the more visual platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – which Hachey describes as the Google for visual content.

“We have media buys planned for Hello Sunshine on Facebook, Instagram and most excitingly – Pinterest,” Hachey says. “We are very excited to be one of the first Canadian retailers to really leverage Pinterest in Canada.”

Leon’s actually published its first look book – called Hello Holiday – last November, which Hachey said was a great success, so much so that the company plans to publish another this fall and making the look books a regular part of its promotional calendar. “We’re currently in negotiations to include a printed version as well as the first two were digital only,” she adds.

The current issue of Hello Sunshine is furniture focused, something Hachey says will change in future issues, which will include coverage of mattresses, major appliances and possibly even electronics.

Click here to check out the Summer 2016 edition of Hello Sunshine.

Click here to check out the Hello Yellow blog.

Related Story: Facebook fans design Leon’s flyer cover

Danby to resume manufacturing small appliances in Guelph

29 July 2016
Appliances, Manufacturing

GUELPH, Ontario – Danby Appliances, a specialist in compact and speciality appliances has will begin manufacturing a line of elite, higher-end products at its facility here, according to a report published by Guelph Today, a local news and information web site.

According to the report, Danby president and chief executive officer Jim Estill announced the privately-held company is now making refrigeration and niche appliances at its headquarters on Whitelaw road here.

He also said research conducted by the company helped determine it was viable to invest in manufacturing operations dedicated to some of Danby’s core products here.

Jim Estill, president and CEO of Danby says the company is once again manufacturing small appliances in Canada.“I think Canadian manufacturing is a great entrepreneurial opportunity for Danby Appliances,” Estill told Guelph Today. “I believe in Canada and look forward to creating more jobs in the region.”

Shauna Gamble, Danby’s vice president of global supply chain operations is also a champion of Canadian manufacturing, stating: “I will always encourage manufacturing, testing and assembly in Canada, and some of our new products are great candidates to introduce in our facility in Guelph.”

While no exact numbers were provided, the expansion of operations in Guelph will create several jobs over the coming weeks. The also said if all goes well, there will be further job and manufacturing growth in the future.

Founded in 1947, Danby Appliances is one of North America’s largest distributors of small appliances such as microwaves, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and refrigeration products. It operates under three business units – Danby, MicroFridge, and Silhouette. At one time, it operated manufacturing facilities in Canada but for the past decade or so it has had its assortment produced overseas.

The company’s head office is here in Guelph with three sales offices and distribution centres in the United States.

Sleep Country grows again

29 July 2016
By the Numbers, Retail

TORONTO – Sleep Country Canada growth streak continued unabated during the first six months of the year with its parent company reporting upticks across all key retail measures including revenue, same store sales, operating EBITDA and net earnings; all while opening five stores and renovating five others during its second quarter.

For the three-month period ending June 30, 2016, revenues were $120.2 million, up 17.3% over the $102.5 million for the second quarter of 2015.

The company attributed the gain to a 12.2% surge in same store sales, which was further supported by the addition of 15 new stores over the ensuing 12 months. Mattress sales gained 13.7% – to $94.5 million from $83.1 million – and accessory sales jumped 32.5% to $25.7 million.

Net income for the second quarter was $9.7 million or 26 cents per share, reversing the comparable period’s net loss of $50.7 million or $2.70 per share, which was attributed to  a series of one-time costs associated with the company’s Initial Public Offering at the beginning of 2015.

Sleep Country Canada became a public company once again in July 2015.

For the six months ending June 30, 2016, revenue increased 17.2% to $227.5 million from $194.1 million for the first half of 2015.

The company said growth was driven primarily by 11.9% jump in same store sales as well as the contributions of those 15 net new stores opened in the 12 months ending June 30. Mattress sales climbed 13.7% to $179.0 million and accessory revenue increased by 32.3% to $48.5 million.

Net income for the first half of 2016 was $17.0 million or 45 cents per share, compared to a loss of $68.4 million or $3.85 per share for the same period last year.

“For the 12th consecutive quarter, Sleep Country achieved strong growth in same store sales as consumers continued to demonstrate their affinity to the brand's exceptional in-store experience, leading product offerings and efficient home delivery service,” Sleep Country Canada chief executive officer David Friesema told analysts in a conference call.

“We're pleased to note that mattress sales grew 13.7% and accessories sales were up 32.5% compared to last year at this time – a validation of our merchandising approach,” he added, noting that in addition to opening five new stores in the second quarter, the company also opened a new market – Prince Edward Island.

The company also renovated five stores bringing its total count of stores operating with te new design scheme to 50. The improved performance also prompted the board of directors to approve a 15% increase in the common share dividend to 15 cents per share.

Friesema said he expect the company to keep on its growth track for the foreseeable future, which he attributes to its regional market strategy, recognisable brand, reputation for excellence in customer service and proven supplier relationships – all of which provide it with an effective platform for ongoing growth in revenue, profitability and cash flows.

“Sleep Country has achieved excellent results to date by executing our strategic plan," said Friesema. “We are well on track with our long-term goals for new store openings, store renovations, the expansion of our accessories business and most fundamentally, same store sales growth. Accordingly, we will continue to focus on our plan so that we can deliver meaningful value for our customers and shareholders.”

Sleep Country is this country’s largest mattress retailer and the only one with a national footprint. It operates under two banners: Dormez-vous, the largest retailer of mattresses in Québec; and Sleep Country Canada across the rest of the country. At June 30, 2016, it operated 233 stores and 17 distribution centres across Canada.

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