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How not to buy a mattress

18 February 2020
Mattresses, Misc

BRIGHTON, Ontario – Inspired by Monty Python, HGO.tv has shifted gears to put the spotlight on one of our industry’s never truly answered questions. What’s the right way to sell a mattress? Well, led by Corrie-Ann Knell, HGO’s fearless marketing director and our truly creative video production team of Aaron Peacock and Aidan Kennedy (the star of our show) have turned this question on its head.

With that, we introduce How Not to Sell a Mattress – the newest video blog from Home Goods Online. Click here to view.

We hope you really enjoy it – we promise it will make you laugh – and that it gives you something to think about. If you have any stories about selling that you’d like to share, please send us a note at [email protected].

And, for a more serious look at this very important question, check out Business Cents, a series of ongoing conversations with Albert Marrache, the founder and president of Phoenix AMD International.

Related Story: Business Cents: to deliver the customer, define the experience
Related Story: Business Cents: capturing missed opportunities
Related Story: Business Cents: a conversation with Albert Marrache

Pier 1 exits Canada

18 February 2020
By the Numbers, Furniture, Retail

FORT WORTH, Texas – Pier 1 Imports, the publicly held furniture and home furnishings specialist, has begun exiting the Canadian market after filing for bankruptcy protection in the United States as part of an effort to either restructure its business or acquire new ownership. It also intends to close as many as 450 of its 930 stores across North America over the coming months while expanding its e-commerce platform south of the border.

In a statement, the company said it has received approximately US$256 million in debtor-in-possession financing from a number of sources that will be used to support continued operations and the sale process through what is called the Chapter 11 process in the U.S.

As it searches for a buyer, Pier 1 has decided to exit the Canadian market and shutter its remaining 66 or so stores north of the border.Robert Riesbeck, who serves as Pier 1’s chief executive officer and chief financial officer, said, “In recent months, we have taken significant steps forward in our business transformation and cost-reduction initiatives. We have worked to establish an appropriately sized and profitable store footprint, operating structure and merchandise assortment that will enable Pier 1 to better serve our customers across store and online channels.

“Today’s actions are intended to provide Pier 1 with additional time and financial flexibility as we now work to unlock additional value for our stakeholders through a sale of the company,” he added. “We are moving ahead in this process with the support of our lenders and are pleased with the initial interest as we engage in discussions with potential buyers.”

The company said it expects the bidding process for the company to conclude by the end of March.

According to its web site, Pier 1 currently operates about 66 stores in Canada and has closed as many as 11 since 2017 – including all its locations in Quebec. About half of its remaining stores are in Ontario. It’s not known how long it will take to close the remaining locations, most of which are in standalone boxes, power centres, strip centres and in some shopping centre properties.

While a public company, Pier 1 hasn’t disclosed Canada revenue in recent years. Most industry observers estimate Pier 1 sales in this country are unlikely to be much more than $140 million.

The Toronto-based Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP are serving as the company’s Canadian legal advisers. As of press time, the trustee in bankruptcy was unknown.

Most observers agree Pier 1 has been struggling for several years, particularly with the rise of online powerhouses such as Wayfair. In 2015, its shares traded at US$300, falling to US$3.56 at the end of last week. Sales for its most recent quarter, which ended 30 November 2019, fell 13% to US$358 million with a reported net loss of US$59 million.

Pier 1 was one of the few U.S. furniture and home furnishings retailers with a relatively strong presence in Canada. There aren’t many others. For example, Ethan Allen only operates six of design centres in this country.

MIFF delayed to June

18 February 2020
Events, Furniture

KUALA LUMPUR – The organisers have announced that the 2020 edition of the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) has been rescheduled from 06 to 09 March to 30 June to 03 July at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) here.

Informa Markets, the organiser of MIFF 2020, said the decision was made after careful consideration and close consultations with stakeholders. There are a lot of uncertainties arising from travel disruptions and other circumstances due to concerns of the COVID-19 situation. Some countries have recently issued travel advisories and companies are restricting travel of their executives.

“In light of the constantly evolving situation, we have taken the difficult decision to reschedule the event,” Datuk Dr Tan Chin Huat, MIFF founder and chairman said in a statement. “We appreciate the international buyers who had looked forward to attending the show in March and hope to have their continued support to attend on the new date.

“MIFF has built a global reputation over the past 25 years and serves buyers from 140 countries and regions,” he continued, adding, “With the new dates, we will continue our work to generate more business opportunities for the show. Also, we offer our sincere sympathies to those who have been affected by the virus in China and other countries.”

Dato’ Sri Abdul Khani bin Daud, chief executive officer of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), noted the COVID-19 situation is under control and is being managed by that country’s Ministry of Health as well as other government agencies.

“We have been adhering to the precautions and safety measures as recommended by the World Health Organisation and are taking their guidance and recommendations seriously,” he said. “We understand the organiser of MIFF’s decision to reschedule the show due to the impact on international travels and other commercial considerations.”

MIFF is the biggest furniture trade show in Southeast Asia. In 2019, the show drew over 600 Malaysian and foreign exhibitors and more than 20,000 visitors including over 6,000 international buyers. Historically as many 120 Canadian retailers have attended the three-day event.

For more information, visit www.miff.com.my.

Article opens Toronto warehouse

18 February 2020
Retail

VANCOUVER – Direct-to-consumer furniture merchant Article opened its first Canadan distribution facility in the Toronto suburb of Vaughan. The warehouse will add 170,000 square feet of capacity and increase local product availability to customers throughout the Greater Toronto Area and support fulfilment throughout eastern Canada.

“We’re committed to delivering our entire catalogue to customers fast. Having products warehoused where our customers are located is a major competitive advantage,” Article co-founder and chief executive officer Aamir Baig said in a statement. “In 2019, 70% of orders were delivered in two weeks or less. Extending our distribution network to Canada will allow us to provide a faster, and more reliable delivery experience.”

Direct to consumer furniture retailer Article has opened its first Canadian distribution centre in Vaughan, Ontario and expanded its in-home delivery service to customers throughout the Greater Toronto Area.To further improve the delivery experience, Article is also introducing its in-house delivery program, Article Delivery Team (ADT), to serve customers within the GTA. Article delivery trucks staffed with employees engage directly with customers to solve common inquiries on the spot, like shipping alternate product sizes or colours. The company currently offers this service in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Vancouver.

Article's in-house delivery program improves customer experience while reducing average delivery times by as much as two days.

The addition of the Canadian distribution centre to Article’s existing network brings the company’s combined capacity to more than 1.2 million square feet.

“Building a strong distribution network in Canada and expanding our in-house delivery service are important investments that will improve our delivery experience, making it easier for customers to create beautiful spaces,” said Baig.

The Toronto warehouse and ADT team are currently operational and will ramp up deliveries over the coming weeks.

Since launching the site in 2013, Article says it has delivered more than 500,000 orders to customers across Canada and the United States.

Related Story: Article names Wendy Youds VP of product and merchandising
Related Story: Article ranks No. 1 on the Growth 500 for second straight year

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Home Goods Online.ca and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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