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La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries getting makeover

New concept shows company's broad product offering

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — La-Z-Boy has opened two new concept stores here, designed to mirror its marketing message, help consumers grasp the full depth of its product offering and ultimately lead to larger-ticket sales.

 La-Z-Boy, retailExtensive use of colorful graphics, fixtures and walls are designed to provide a creative, interesting and inspiring experience for consumers shopping in La-Z-Boy’s remodeled new-concept store in Warwick, R.I.

The Monroe, Mich.-based maker and retailer of home furnishings remodeled its 13,000-square-foot Warwick, R.I., store and opened a new 15,500-square-foot store in nearby Attleboro, Mass., in what previously was a sporting goods store.

Both of the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries sport the new look - primarily an interior update to the "New Generation" format the company rolled out about 10 years ago, with furniture displayed by lifestyle. The youthful, modern design also offers more display flexibility, plays up the company's customization capabilities and features some technological touches including big-screen television monitors to highlight room planning and design features as well as commercials.

La-Z-Boy is continuing to tweak the design, which will be used for all new stores as well as older locations as they come up for remodels.

Kurt Darrow, La-Z-Boy president, chairman and CEO, declined to disclose early sales results, but indicated that the company is pleased with them.

"To me, the thing that's most gratifying is the consumer reaction," he said. Through its design consultant - Interbrand Design Forum - La-Z-Boy conducted post-opening focus groups and other research to gauge consumer response, and "their wow factor" and the amount of time they are spending in the stores have been positive, he said. Design Forum was gathering customer data even before construction began, "so we're fairly confident this is a research-grounded (design)," Darrow added.

"It's not just to have a pretty store," he said. "It's to have a store that provides more inspiration for the customer but is more economically viable."

Darrow said La-Z-Boy wants to open two more company-owned stores with some additional refinements and develop a history of data showing a sales lift before it pushes for a rollout to the dealer network. The locations haven't been finalized, but the company is looking at the Midwest and West Coast, he said.

"We look at this as a natural evolution," Darrow said of the new design. "We don't see it as something entirely different from what we were doing. Our previous store is still very viable and doing fairly well this year. But you're making real estate decisions about the next decade, and the last time we made changes was 10 years ago."

There new design has some fairly dramatic changes.

For starters, La-Z-Boy moved its central design center to the back left side of the store and opened up the center space to highlight some of its most fashion-forward furniture. The store also is now displayed largely by lifestyle - contemporary, classic (or traditional) and transitional - leaving only recliners as a category display.

But even there, La-Z-Boy has made changes. Recliners have moved from the back of the store to the front, and now they are arranged primarily by function - lift chairs in one pod, wall-aways in another and so on. This way, it's easier for the customer to get to the type of recliner they want before they narrow down their selection by cover or other aesthetic features.

The new design also features movable vignette walls. And there are more graphics and color throughout the store - light colors on the walls, which help the bolder color of the furniture pop. As Darrow put it, the industry "went through this period of the beige-ing and browning out of America," which doesn't exactly excite the customer.

For more details on the new design and photos, see the Oct. 10 print issue of Furniture/Today.

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