• Clint Engel

Huffman Koos closing for renovation, rebranding initiative

Return could include a smaller footprint, more special-order goods

FAIRFIELD, N.J. — The owner of Huffman Koos is closing all eight of its New York and New Jersey locations in preparation for a major renovation and rebranding initiative.

All details have yet to be worked out, but CEO Anthony Mehran told Furniture Today the reinvention will likely include a step up to more custom-order, better-end goods and may involve a smaller footprint, possibly trimming the selling space and store count.

The brand name, with a more than 50-year history, was acquired out of bankruptcy in 2005 by CEO Anthony Mehran. Liquidation sales have begun at five stores — in Freehold, Fairfield, Watchung and Rockaway, N.J., and Middletown, N.Y. Closing sales at the remaining stores in Paramus, N.J., and Farmingdale, and Elmhurst, N.Y., will follow shortly, the company said.

Planned Furniture Promotions was hired to manage the sale, which will run for about 60 to 90 days, depending on the location, said Tom Liddell, PFP senior vice president.

Planned improvements include “massive renovations” of the interiors and exteriors and remerchandising, according to a release.

“Huffman Koos is at an exciting point in time inspired by our rich history,” Mehran said in a statement.

He later told Furniture Today the company plans to reopen all locations; however, he is mulling offers to lease some or part of the locations, something the retailer has done before. For instance, last year, Mehran leased 25,000 square feet of its 52,000-square-foot Farmingdale location to an Ashley HomeStore licensee, and the year before, Mehran leased 11,000 square-feet his shopping Watchung shopping center to Ethan Allen, though that space wasn’t part of the Huffman Koos store there.

“Having stores next door to each other creates synergistic furniture traffic, while not competing on the same lines of product,” he said.

Mehran said it’s too early to say how many stores will reopen, but that the first new Huffman Koos will probably emerge sometime in May.

Full details on the renovations and remerchandising also weren’t disclosed, though Mehran said they will likely include a refresh to the Huffman Koos logo. The goal in remerchandising is to become more of a higher-end special order retailer.

“I find too many retail stores in our territory are competing for the same consumer,” and not serving those looking for better-end goods and more options, he said.

“The main goal and concept is to utilize the highest yield per square foot while giving our customers the best shopping experience possible,” he said.

Mehran said that’s similar to his approach 27 years ago, when he opened his first New York Bedding store in 900 square feet in Queens, N.Y.

“We’re excited about this change and all the renovations,” he said.

Mehran declined to disclose sales figures, but said business last year was flat.

In the release, he said, customers with open orders have no reason for concern, as our intention is to fulfill all orders. We are financially strong and continue to enjoy great relationships with our many quality vendors.”

Current suppliers include Natuzzi, Serta, Simmons, Klaussner, Universal, Legacy and Craftmaster among others.

In the release, PFP President Rob Rosenberg called the sale and transition “and important event,” adding, “With the continuing evolution of the retail furniture business, helping our clients successfully reinvent their business model is becoming the fastest growing part of the services that we provide.”

After Mehran acquired the rights to the Huffman Koos name and Internet domain out of bankruptcy he reintroduced the brand in the Northeast and also opening a High Point showroom on Main Street, serving as a wholesale business during furniture markets and open for retail sales to the public during non-market times.

In September 2015, Mehran said he was phasing out of the wholesales business and began the closing process in High Point.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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