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F.I.G. opens fourth Ashley HomeStore

 Bob Binkley and Mark MacDiarmid, owners of the new Pickering Ashley Furniture HomeStore (front row, at left) look on as Doug Dickerson, deputy mayor of the Town of Pickering, cuts the ribbon to make the store’s official opening Aug. 1. Looking on (at right) is Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues. In the back row are Ajax Pickering Board of Trade president Bill Zolis (left) and Pickering Regional Councillor Bill McLean (right).Bob Binkley and Mark MacDiarmid, owners of the new Pickering Ashley Furniture HomeStore (front row, at left) look on as Doug Dickerson, deputy mayor of the Town of Pickering, cuts the ribbon to make the store’s official opening Aug. 1. Looking on (at right) is Regional Councillor Peter Rodrigues. In the back row are Ajax Pickering Board of Trade president Bill Zolis (left) and Pickering Regional Councillor Bill McLean (right).

PICKERING, Ontario — The Furniture Investment Group, led by well-known independent retailer Dennis Novosel, has opened its fourth Ashley Furniture HomeStore here in this community immediately east of Toronto.

Located at 1095 Kingston Road, the 30,000 square-foot showroom displays a broad cross-section of Ashley Furniture's living room, bedroom, dining, home office and youth furniture, including lifestyle collections such as Vintage Casual and Metro Modern as well as the Arcadia, Wis.-based manufacturer's private label mattress line.

The store's ribbon cutting was held Aug. 1.

Novosel is best known as the president and founder of destination store Stoney Creek Furniture. The Furniture Investment Group (F.I.G.), of which Novosel serves as chairman, is an independent company and is not affiliated with Stoney Creek Furniture.

In an interview, F.I.G. director of sales Mark MacDiarmid said the new store is based on Ashley's latest retail concept giving it a more contemporary styled build-out than the group's other three locations. It also added 17 people to its workforce in the store and another five at its distribution center in Stoney Creek - which services all four locations.

MacDiarmid and director of operations Bob Binkley are part of F.I.G.'s ownership group.

MacDiarmid said the new store overlooks Highway 401 - the main commuter throughway in and out of Toronto - and gets an average of 160,000 drive-pasts a day.

The group's advertising and other media campaigns now saturate the greater Toronto area, but they discovered consumers were often reluctant to drive across the city to Vaughan - a journey that could take 30 minutes or more, even outside of rush hour. This was part of rationale for seeking a location on the eastern reaches of the area. Vaughan was opened in November 2010.

This was also an opportunity to grow the company's overall sales. "The other stores are doing well - not as well as they did before 2008 - but we are growing again," MacDiarmid said, adding Pickering and the other communities on the eastern edge of the Toronto area have affluent populations with above-average levels of income and employment.

Until Aug. 19, the store will run a number of grand opening activities, including a draw that will award one lucky customer a $5,000 shopping spree. All four of the F.I.G. Ashley stores support Ashley's A Hope to Dream program. For every mattress purchased in one of the stores, $5 is donated to the program, which provides mattresses to local children in need.

Since the program was launched in 2010, Ashley Furniture HomeStores have provided over 5,000 mattress sets.

The other F.I.G. Ashley stores are located in Vaughan, Mississauga and Stoney Creek, Ontario.

According to its web site, there are now about 30 Ashley Furniture HomeStores in operation in Canada. In addition to the five operating in Ontario; there are eight in Alberta, seven in British Columbia, three in Manitoba; four in Quebec; two in Saskatchewan and one in Nova Scotia.

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