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Tepperman’s up for London social responsibility award

3 February 2020
Community, Retail

LONDON, Ontario – Regional furniture, mattress and appliance powerhouse Tepperman’s has been named a finalist for this year’s Corporate Social Responsibility Award by the London Chamber of Commerce. The organisation’s annual London Business Achievement Awards recognizes business excellence in several categories.

In making the announcement, Tepperman’s was praised for the positive impact it has had on the communities it serves, its transparent exchange of best CSR practices among its stakeholders and enterprises, and for creating innovative solutions to tackle sustainability issues.

Electric car charging stations, such as the one seen here, can be found at all six Tepperman locations in southwestern Ontario.The London Chamber of Commerce has been recognising and celebrating achievement in this city’s business community since 1984. Its annual Business Achievement Awards gala showcases and celebrates some of its outstanding businesses and is believed to be one of the largest events of its kind in the country.

The full-scale retailer, which first opened here in 1997, has been working towards accelerating responsible business practices for the past several years through sustainable, profitable growth that delivers value for customers, colleagues, shareholders, communities and planet alike with an emphasis on waste reduction and partnership with schools on environmental programs.

The new London store, which houses the largest distribution centre among its six locations and opened in 2008, was one of the first recipients of the Don Smith Commercial Building Awards.

The family-owned and operated retailer launched a comprehensive program in 2015 to ensure its energy self-sufficiency and become a zero waste and socially responsible business. Some of the actions included:

  • reducing its energy consumption by 20% by 2025;
  • diverting 100% of waste from landfills with 401 tonnes of materials being recycled annually;
  • implementing a full energy management system and audit;
  • providing customers with courtesy electric car charging stations in every location;
  • collaborating with local charities to receive unwanted furniture from customers thus extending products’ lifecycle; and,
  • allocating discarded mattresses to a factory that recycles over 90% of raw materials into new products.

“It is truly a wonderful honour to be named a finalist for this year’s Business Achievement Awards in CSR and to be recognized among other leading businesses in the community,” said Andrew Tepperman, the retailer’s third generation president. “We completely believe that our company’s sustainability is directly linked to the welfare of the communities where we operate, and we make it a business imperative to demonstrate best practices and lead through social impact.”

Tepperman’s installed a living wall in its Kitchener store and invites local schools to visit and then talk to them about sustainability.Tepperman’s won the chamber’s Environmental Leadership Award in 2016 and the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s Corporate Environmental Achievement Award last year.

In an interview with Home Goods Online, Tepperman said he firmly believes being a good steward of the environment is good for business. As an example, he cites the decision to install courtesy electric car charge stations at every one of their six stores, recalling what happened three years ago in Kitchener.

“Within the first month the local electric car club held asked to hold their weekend get togethers in our parking lot. None had ever been to our store but a number of them purchased items,” he said. “A week later, a customer sent me an e-mail from the same store, saying, ‘Dear Andrew, my wife and I were driving to Lowe’s to purchase appliances. My electric car was running low on battery. I have an app that directs me to the closest charge station. That led me to your parking lot. I plugged in. To kill some time while it charged, my wife and I walked into your store and were completely surprised. We had never heard of your company. In the end, we purchased five appliances from you. Thank you for the free charge.’.”

He also noted the company’s focus on sustainability is a powerful recruiting tool. During a recent MBA challenge with 45 university students, Tepperman’s asked what marketing message would be most important to them, including factors such as history, credit, sustainability and community work. Some 44 of the 45 stated sustainable would be the most important of those four messages.

“This has all been a big win for recruiting, especially with younger new hires,” Tepperman said. “They feel proud because sustainability aligns with their values.”

One of their latest initiatives involves sending all of their returned mattresses to a firm in Chicago that recycles every component, from the springs and foams to the ticking. They’ve also become a partner in Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, program that repurposes old furniture.

About the only thing they don’t do is install solar panels on the rooves of their stores. Andrew Tepperman says its not for a lack of trying, but there are several obstacles, some of which are surprising.

After a decade of trying, they were approved to join Ontario’s Feed-In-Tarrif program, but circumstances changed and Tepperman began looking at doing it on their own as their newer stores are all able to support solar panels.  “Part of our ten-year 2025 Vision is to produce our own energy,” he said. “Our current challenge with solar is it needs to first be fed into the municipal energy system and then sold back. The majority of the city systems are not able to absorb the energy.”

But he hasn’t given up.

The 37th annual Business Achievement Awards will be held on 25 March 2020 at London’s RBC Place.

Related Story: Tepperman’s receives corporate environmental achievement award
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Tepperman’s – Finding a green ROI
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Fairstone signs GSM

3 February 2020
Retail, Misc

MONTREAL – Fairstone Financial, a specialist in alternative personal financing, has signed on to provide both in-store and online point-of-sale financing to Groupe Solution Meubles (GSM), a network of independent furniture, mattress and appliance retailers operating a total of about 35 stores across Quebec.

“We are proud to partner with Groupe Solution Meubles to deliver simple financing solutions to their membership and customers,” Serges Bériault, Fairstone’s senior vice president of indirect lending said in a statement.

As part of its financing offer, Fairstone is providing GSM members with an automated, mobile and digital financing platform enabling customers to be approved for financing within a few minutes.

These retailers include: Meubles Domon; JC Perreault; Sinray; Meubles Dégelis; Gagnon Frères; Meubles Croteau; Meubles Gérard Poirier; Meubl'en vrac; Setlakwe; Branchaud; and, Jacob.

Groupe Solution Meubles was previously known as Les Marchands P.A.S.

“Fairstone's deep experience in retail financing, the simplicity of their financing experience for customers and their Quebec-headquartered operations made them the right financing partner for our members,” said GSM president Marie-Hélène Domon, whose family owns and operates the three unit Domon Meubles, based in Lachine, Quebec.

Until 2017, when it was acquired by J.C. Flowers & Co. LLC and Värde Partners – a pair of U.S. based investment firms – Fairstone was known as CitiFinancial Canada. It provides similar point-of-sale financing services to Kent Building Supplies and the 90 Canadian members of Carpet One Floor & Home.

Related Story: Fairstone to provide POS financing to Carpet One Floor & Home

HPMA to set registration fees for industry professionals

3 February 2020
Events, Furniture

HIGH POINT, North Carolina – Professionals doing business with the furniture and home furnishings industry will now have to pay a fee to attend the High Point Market (HPM), beginning with the upcoming April edition of the twice-yearly event.

The High Point Market Authority (HPMA) will now charge a US$55 fee for industry professions who register to attend online and in advance – including those working for factoring companies; manufacturers of furniture and furnishings who don’t exhibit at HPM; trade association executives; consultants; personnel from advertising, marketing and public relations firms; service providers; and, suppliers of components such as fabric, springs, foam and finishing materials.

Seen here, 220 Elm is home to Palliser Furniture and several other Canadian exhibitors and one of the 180 or so building that make up the twice-yearly High Point Market.The fee doesn’t apply to HPM exhibitors, retail buyers or the media.

Registering onsite will cost these industry professionals an additional US$30.

Retailer buyers wishing to register onsite to attend the five-day market will also be charged the US$30 fee. It won’t apply to those registering in advance and online.

In a statement, HPMA described its existing onsite registration system as a significant, nonessential cost.

“We classify this as a nonessential cost because we also maintain, at a significant cost, an online pre-registration system, which is available to all attendees from 14 weeks before each market opens through the week before market opens,” the statement read.

The authority also said it is planning to seek additional funding from local public sources such as the State of North Carolina, Guilford County and the City of High Point. In addition, it will ask for more sponsor support for market events and activities.

“As we move into the next few years, High Point Market Authority will begin to implement exciting new plans to improve the market experience for all attendees,” HPMA said. “Guests will enjoy improved amenities, more after-hours entertainment options, more exciting and informative learning opportunities, and more opportunities to meet – and create business connections with – colleagues, peers, and leaders from across our industry.”

HPMA president Tom Conley said the onsite registration fee is a way to encourage more people to register online.

“Onsite registration is a very expensive process, and we see shows around the world charging this onsite fee,” he said. “We are absolutely committed to making sure buyers can get into market without any charge whatsoever. We did this primarily to encourage buyers to register online.”

In addition to saving money, Conley said online registration aids the authority to reach out to first-time buyers ahead of market to answer any questions they may have about the event or help identify ways to make their market experience better.

“We call them if they register online and have been doing this the last four or five years,” Conley noted, adding that providing a positive experience helps encourage those first-time buyers to return to market. “It was to create the best High Point experience that we can.”

He also noted the US$55 industry registration fee isn’t a lot of money. “We are not doing it for the money, although the money will help,” he maintains. “We are trying to make the High Point Market experience the best in the world. That money has to come from somewhere.”

Conley also believes the fee will show local government partners that HPM is getting at least some financial support from the private sector. “The exhibitors are already paying us through the showroom tax, and they contribute very nicely,” he said. “This is another way to have the home furnishings industry contribute to the Market Authority budget.”

The authority didn’t say how much it expects to raise through the new registration fee for industry professionals.

The spring edition of the market will run from 25 to 29 April. Some 80 or so Canadian furniture and home furnishings companies are expected to exhibit.

Related Story: Sunpan doubles HPM showroom

Winter market closes on high note, organisers report

3 February 2020
Events, Furniture

LAS VEGAS, Nevada – The organisers of the Winter edition of the twice-yearly Las Vegas Market (LVM) ended its five-day run on a high note fueled by solid traffic and order writing as well as building anticipation for the soon-to-be completed Expo at World Market Center and the launch of its new digital platform.

“Las Vegas Market has hit its stride,” Bob Maricich, chief executive officer of International Market Center (IMC) said in a statement. “The excitement and buoyancy felt throughout the week cemented our position as the premier market venue for the West. The gift, home décor and furniture industries rely on Las Vegas Market for discovery of new products and innovations to build their businesses. News of IMC’s continued investment in our physical and digital markets created excitement that will carry throughout the year.”

IMC is the owner and operator of the LVM as well as the Atlanta Gift & Home Furnishings Market. It also operates many of the permanent showroom building participating in the High Point Market, including Showplace and the International Home Furnishings Center (IHFC).

The World Market Center is home to the Las Vegas Market, held in January and July every year.Approximately 50 Canadian companies exhibited at LVM Winter 2020, including some 26 furniture and mattress producers such as Canadel, Décor-Rest, Palliser, Marshall Mattress and Stylus. IMC didn’t release specific attendance figures.

(Editor’s Note: HGO will have a report on Canadian efforts at the Winter LVM in the upcoming edition of the Merchandiser.)

In its report on the first LVM of the year, the organisers said exhibitors from across the gift, home décor and furniture spectrum experienced successful – and in some cases record-breaking – markets, citing traffic and buying gains as well as added product interest.

“We’re Las Vegas loyalists and have been here since day one. We were one of the first showrooms that opened in Building C, and have never left,” said Garry Schermann, senior vice president of sales at gift exhibitor Creative Co-Op. “We’ve never had a better show than we had this market. The buyers have come out in force. It’s not just our loyal customers, but so many new buyers – especially international – that have come to the market.” Schermann reported orders were received from buyers from the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Four Hands, a full-line furniture resource based in Austin, Texas, said during the first two days of market it scanned some 4,200 buyers’ badges – a mix of existing customers and new prospects. “We have been at Las Vegas Market from the beginning and being a part of the market has been great for Four Hands, not just as a brand but as a destination and designer resource. I think our success has a lot has to do with the popularity of Las Vegas Market but also speaks to how on-point our brand is with the current trends,” said showroom manager Nicole Petropoulos.

The organisers also believed buyers has a positive view of the event, many noting an increase in product introductions and an overall positive shopping experience.

“This was the best-ever Las Vegas Market,” said Elaine Haskey, upholstery buyer for Steinhafels Furniture of Waukesha, Wisconsin. “Sometimes, the products are a repeat of High Point Market introductions, but this time there was so much newness throughout, and we ended up committing to lots!”

“Las Vegas Market continues to amaze us,” said Greg Greeson, owner and furniture buyer for Collectic Home of Austin, Texas. “The superlatives here include the ease of getting to and from the World Market Center, the variety of accommodations available in Las Vegas, the dining and entertainment possibilities, and of course, the convenience of cross-category shopping at one market and visiting all of our vendor showrooms in such close proximity to one another. We set a record this Market by visiting 75 showrooms in just two-and-half days. I have more than 500 photos on my iPhone as proof!”

The nearly completed Expo at World Market Center Las Vegas greeted attendees as they arrived on the campus every morning during the five-day event.

The Pavilions at Las Vegas Market – which have housed the gift and home temporaries for the past 15 years – will be torn down in February as The Expo will take on its role being with the Summer 2020 market this July.

IMC also launched its standalone digital division, IMC_di, a business-to-business e-commerce platform, which will connect buyers and sellers digitally as an extension of IMC’s physical markets.

The Summer 2020 edition of the Las Vegas Market will run from 26 to 30 July.

Related Story: 50 Canadian resources to show at Winter 2020 market

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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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