Tepperman's going to Kitchener
WINDSOR, Ontario (20 October 2015) - Tepperman's Furniture will expand to Kitchener with its fifth store sometime next spring, depending on the impact winter weather conditions have on the construction process.
It will also contain its fourth Bargain Annex.
The 90-year old, third generation family owned and operated retailer broke ground on the new 80,000 square foot facility two weeks ago. It will house a 60,000 square foot full-line Tepperman's store; a 10,000 square foot Bargain Annex and a 10,000 square foot warehouse (with 40-foot high ceilings for maximum customer pick-up and storage).
This will be the retailer's first expansion since the construction of its 185,000 square foot facility in London, Ontario seven years ago. It will be designed by Martin Roberts, the principal of Stamford, Connecticut-based Martin Roberts Design, which has undertaken projects for a number of U.S. furniture retailers including Badcock Home Furniture & More, Cardi's Furniture and Weekends Only Warehouse.
"This was the first time we've hired a design specialist," Andrew Tepperman, the company's third generation president, explained. "Kitchener will be our most impressive store offering an amazing customer experience. As the retail world changes in terms of omni-channel, if we're expecting a customer to get out of their pajamas, drive across town, park and shop for a few hours, we better offer something spectacular."
Kitchener will be a new statement for Tepperman's and will be differ from its four sister stores in the nearby Ontario communities of Windsor, Chatham, London and Sarnia. "It starts as soon as you pull in to the parking lot," Tepperman said. "The exterior uses the most current materials - a combination of concrete slabs, faux mood and corrugated metal, accented by beautiful landscaping. The sidewalks will encourage mingling as we included tables and chairs to relax on under canopies."
It will also be the first Tepperman's with an electric car charger and will boast the most current and efficient lighting system in the regional chain - all part of the company's drive towards environmental sustainability.
The interior will consist of the retailers four key departments - furniture, bedding, appliances, and electronics - as well as its store-within-a-store, the Bargain Annex, its entry price point, promotional sales vehicle. This will be the first Tepperman's store with permanent walking paths.
"We also leveraged the interior design team to develop a colour palette that links the floor treatments to the walls to the carpet. There will be a new format for all interior signage as well," Tepperman said, adding there will also be a welcome centre in the middle of the store with staff to direct traffic; a section for coffee and refreshments; and, a kids area with games.
He also said the new state of the art electronics department - to be called "[email protected]" - will have an an Apple store feel to it.
Much of the consumer sees in the Kitchener location was inspired by a recent visit Andrew Tepperman made to a new American Furniture store in Arizona.
"We liked the concept of having access from the store to the customer pick-up office so we've included a connection. We also created a very efficient pick-up drive through process," he said, adding the new 10,000 square foot warehouse was attached to the store to facilitate customer pick-ups.
"Our supply chain team has the ability to accurately predict the top pick up items," Tepperman continued. "And if we don't have the item on-hand, we can deliver it the same day or next day as long as it's in stock in our main distribution centre London."
Tepperman's has also begun testing a same day delivery service at two of its current locations, something it wants to introduce across the chain once the bugs have been worked out. "We want to showcase as many differentiators as possible so and same say delivery will be one of them," he said.
The company has also hired a new corporate trainer and new hires will be brought on board much earlier than before to go through a more robust training program.
The new store will be located in the southern part of Kitchener, on the north-west corner of Fisher-Hallman and Huron Streets. "Our goal was to find a location that would be easy to draw traffic form the 3 large urban areas - Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge. It also has easy access to the 401. Kitchener has a great regional highway system that allows you to get anywhere within 15 minutes."
Andrew Tepperman - along with his brother, Noah, the company's secretary-treasurer - has been working on the Kitchener expansion project for the past four years and notes coming here is a logical extension of what the company has been doing for the last few decades.
"This location makes sense," he explained, noting when the London facility (currently its newest) was built seven years ago, additional land was purchased beside it so a wall in the distribution centre could be knocked if there was a need to expand it.
"Kitchener, being an hour from London allows us to leverage the DC and reach a number of other under serviced communities along the way like Woodstock," he said. "Also, this area has continued to grow in population and new homes. And we know people need to fill those homes. The area has become a bedroom community of Toronto with more people being able to afford to live there and commute to Toronto. The region is also investing in transportation infrastructure like the light rail transit train making it more efficient to get around."
All of these factors make Kitchener - along with its companion cities of Guelph, Cambridge and Waterloo - ripe for growth.
"At any given time, we are always working on a five-year plan," Tepperman said. "Growth for the sake of just increasing company-wide revenues is not part of our strategy. When we expand to a new market, we approach it like our home town. We want to be the market leader and be good community partners.
"Once our foundation is solid in a market, we feel comfortable to expand," he continued "Also, being a family business, each store is just as important to the entire business so we spend a lot of time visiting and ensuring we're creating an amazing customer and staff experience."
He also noted, the company has built a solid team of executives, directors and managers who can take on this type of expansion without losing focus on its existing markets.
"It's also interesting Canada is in a technical recession today and we're about to bring on our most advanced facility," Tepperman said.