Ashley Furniture Sells 'the Concept'
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 7/28/2008 12:00:00 AM
Arcadia, Wis. —
Ashley Furniture HomeStores is a furniture retailer — first and foremost — then the rest of the product mix is put together.
This is the viewpoint of Ron Wanek, chairman of the furniture manufacturer, ranked No.46 on Home Textiles Today's Top 50 Retailing Giants with 2007 sales of $72 million, versus '06 sales of $61 million. It is the No.1 retailer of furniture on sister publication Furniture/Today's Top 100 US furniture stores survey. Ashley, with 353 licensed and company-owned stores in 2007, up from 296 in '06, had $2.5 billion in total sales.
The textile part of the stores' assortment is developed internally, part of the responsibility of the upholstery fabric designers. "It all falls in line with what we are featuring in furniture," Wanek explained. Most of the product is inventoried in the United States by Ashley.
One of the biggest obstacles to growing the home textiles piece of the business, according to Wanek, is the sales force in the stores, a complaint verbalized by many in the furniture retailing channel for years. "We want to sell them the concept that these products relate to their female decision-making customers," he said. "Most stores pay commissions on these products, but if we can't get the sales force to sell them on the floor, we are building displays at the checkout."
In the stores, beds are all covered or half-covered with company decorative bedding, depending on whether the mattress underneath — which the company also sells in large quantities — is featured.
For throws and decorative pillows, "These are moved around the store. A good retailer will want a lot of them to highlight the furniture as well as to create a take-with sale. "We obviously want to make the furniture look good – and increase the ticket," Wanek commented. "We try to make it easy."
The rugs, decorative bedding, throws and decorative pillows are featured extensively throughout the Ashley showrooms at markets in High Point, N.C. and Las Vegas. And while most furniture companies have sales reps on the road, Ashley has marketing personnel whose responsibilities go beyond the sale of furniture. "Our marketing specialists take to the road to work with the dealers" on all aspects of the business," he noted.
As for the future of the textiles segment, Wanek said, "It's not stellar growth, but important."
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