Casaideas Breaks into U.S. Market with Miami Unit
Cecile Corral -- Furniture Today, May 12, 2011
MIAMI - Having picked this pan-Latin city as its entry in the U.S. market with a new store that opened its doors here in December, it may come as a surprise that the focus of South American home furnishings discount chain Casaideas - or "Home Ideas" in English - is not a Hispanic customer.
"We treat our customer as a global customer," explained Diego Mora, international business manager, to HTT during a recent store tour. "And here, we are targeting the American consumer - not just the Hispanic customer."
Casaideas Miami occupies one of the anchor-tenant spots at The Shops of Sunset Place, an alfresco mall in the middle- to upper middle-income neighborhood of South Miami. Its twostory, roughly 30,000-square-foot space (which includes about 22,000 of selling floor and 8,000 of staff offices and storage space) is the most visible of this mall - which also houses a 24-screen AMC Theater and Gametime as well as other stores like Pottery Barn, Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, The Gap and GapKids, Barnes & Noble and many others.
"Miami was one of the areas that was hit by the economic crisis, but less so than other areas in the United States, so we decided to start our U.S. business in Miami," Mora said.
The plan is to expand the chain locally within South Florida from Palm Beach to Broward and more throughout Miami-Dade counties with eight to 10 new units to open in the coming few years.
On the Miami store's first floor are some bedding and bath presentations but mostly kitchen textiles and cooking supplies, table linens, decorative entertaining, pieces, dinnerware like plates, cups, glasses, etc., home décor pieces like mirrors, candles, vases, picture frames, wall décor, etc., and personal items like bags, personal care items, small travel gear, journals, pens, and other miscellaneous seasonal goods. On the second floor is the main presentation of its full line of bedding and bath linens and coordinate accessories as well as a full room décor line of juvenile novelty goods.
Casaideas opened its first store in 1993 in Chile. Today, its store count has reached 52 units in Chile, where it operates its headquarters, as well as in Peru, Colombia, Bolivia and now here.
Originally, textiles were the retailer's focus, but over the years Casaideas has layered in some hard decorative goods to enhance its offering. Furniture, however, is not part of the mix with the exception of some small occasional pieces - rattan chairs at present being the largest item on the selling floor.
Home textiles, which Mora said "continues to be our core offering," comprise more than 50% of the current total merchandise mix.
"Our products are made to be lived and consumed in everyday life. That is the key to our concept," he continued.
Every three weeks, Casaideas refreshes about 500 skus of its total 12,000 skus per store to remain relevant during shifts in trends and seasons.
Price points for home textiles items include: $24.90 for all-cotton queen sheet sets; $9.90 for two-pack sets of shams; $39.99 for throws; $69.90 for duvet covers; $29.90 for curtains; $54.90 for sofa slipcovers $39.90 for chair slipcovers; $14.90 for decorative pillows; $29.90 for shower curtains; $3.99 for tip, $6.99 for hand, $7.99 for bath, and $14.90 for bath sheet towels; $1.90 to $3.99 for placemats; $4.99 for four-pack sets of napkins; $24.90 for tablecloths; $16.90 for 2-by-3 accent rugs; and $39.90 for 5-by-9 area rugs.
Price points are standard by category for the most part for the textiles assortment - regardless of handiwork and embellishments or lack thereof. Construction is largely all cotton or cotton-rich.
"We are able to offer low prices because we are vertical - we operate all of our own design, manufacturing, logistics, retail, distribution. We pass along the savings to our customer. The idea is to help people enjoy their homes at a low investment, at a discount," said Mora.
Casaideas' pricing hurdle has related to translating the value message to the consumer, Mora explained.
"We think people are sometimes confused by our low prices," he said. "They see our prices as too low, almost, and sometimes that work against us. So we are working on better communicating the value of our products so that they feel more comfortable about buying our goods at our prices."
And yet, while price is admittedly "important," Mora said the company's "strength is our design."
Casaideas's 70-member in-house design team develops more than 85% of the retailer's total product mix in tandem with the more than 2,000 manufacturers worldwide - mostly in China, India and Pakistan - with whom Casaideas works directly to develop its whole line - from nail files to bedding collections.
"We don't offer a Hispanic look," Mora said of the chain's brightly colored merchandise, much of which employs some form of special treatment and/ or embellishment. "Ours is a global look that we maintain throughout the chain for all of our customers."
Casaideas' designers are inspired by "our travels worldwide, whether it's at home or in Europe, Australia, the U.S. We try to appeal to everyone," Mora added. "This is a borderless world and people live much in the same way regardless of where they live or what language they speak."
Casaideas Miami has not yet set up a wedding or baby registry service, but plans to add both soon.
Casaideas’ first U.S. unit is located at The Shops at Sunset Place in Miami.
Fashion bedding along with Casaideas’ other home textiles offerings — utility bedding, bath, table linens, kitchen textiles, soft window treatments and rugs — account for more than 50% of the retailer’s total merchandise mix.
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