Ashley licensee Broad River to try higher end concept
First Savvy Spaces to open soon in Charlotte, N.C.
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, June 20, 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ashley Furniture HomeStores licensee Broad River Furniture will open a new format multi-line store here this summer aiming for a more affluent consumer and a larger share of the furniture market.
The 36,000-square-foot Savvy Spaces will soft open in a former Boyles store in the southern Charlotte suburb of Pineville, N.C., early next month, next door to Broad River's top performing HomeStore.
The Top 100 company's HomeStores business also is growing. Broad River will open a 47,000-square-foot HomeStore in Fayetteville, N.C., in September - its 13th Ashley store - and is also looking at expanding into the Raleigh/Durham, N.C., market. A former HomeStores licensee closed its stores last year in the Raleigh and Fayetteville areas.
With Savvy Spaces, Broad River will target consumers shopping for higher-end goods with a multi-brand strategy, said co-owners Jonathan Ishee and Charlie Malouf.
"We're really going after a different consumer than our Ashley HomeStores," Malouf said. "We'll have higher price points, but I wouldn't call us high end."
Fabric sofas, for example, range from about $399 to $799 at Broad River's HomeStores, while they will start at $699 at Savvy Spaces and top out at about $1,099. Bedroom groups also will start about 20% to 40% higher than the Ashley retail prices.
The store also will focus on local sourcing.
"Whenever possible, we are buying from North Carolina manufacturers," Ishee said. "We don't want a bunch of freight costs loaded into our retail. We think we can offer a great value when we don't have to haul (product) all the way around the world and all the way around the country.
"We've talked to consumers and through our own research, that's something that has come up. That (local product) is important to them, particularly in this part of the country."
Fairmont Designs will be among Savvy's important suppliers, Ishee said, adding that he is excited about Fairmont's new upholstery plant in Hickory, N.C., in a former Thomasville factory.
Other top brands will include Flexsteel, Bernhardt, Legacy Classic, Hooker, Bradington-Young, Pulaski, A.R.T., Corinthian, Jackson/Catnapper, Samuel Lawrence, Steve Silver, Aspenhome, Franklin, Albany, New Classics, USA Premium Leather and Jaipur Home.
In bedding, Savvy Spaces will offer the same brands as the HomeStores - Sealy, Stearns & Foster and Tempur-Pedic - but again reaching for higher price points with broad lines from all three, including Stearns & Foster latex mattresses and the Embody by Sealy line. The store also will carry adjustable bases from Leggett & Platt.
The owners would not disclose sales projections for the new concept store, but estimated that Broad River's total furniture, bedding and accessories sales will hit $65 million this year. In 2012, the retailer is shooting for $75 million to $85 million in sales, with the Fayetteville and possible Raleigh/Durham HomeStores and Savvy Spaces open a full year, as well as a possible second Savvy Spaces store open by that time.
No.86 on the Top 100, and the ninth fastest growing company in the ranking this year, Broad River did an estimated $50.7 million in furniture, bedding and accessories sales in 2010, up 17.1% from the year before. It operates 12 HomeStores in the Carolinas and Georgia, including a Hickory, N.C., store that opened last July.
"We believe this is the second best location in the Charlotte market for a retail furniture store," Malouf said of the Savvy Spaces showroom. (The best, he says, is that of its eight-year-old HomeStore next door). The stores are in vibrant home furnishing corridor that also includes Ethan Allen, Havertys, Bassett, Room To Go, Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and others.
He added that Broad River's "team members are a vitally important piece of the puzzle here in allowing us to grow in this capacity."
Ishee said the Boyles real estate opportunity led him and Malouf to speed up their plan to develop a second retail format.
Also, he added, the exit of Boyles left a void in the market for a retailer of luxury or upper-end goods that Savvy can fill.
Malouf added that the partners' close ties to a couple of other retailers also fueled their plans, noting that Ishee is a nephew of the Miskelly brothers of Jackson, Miss.-based Miskelly Furniture.
"We've seen what they've done as an independent, and we've always been real impressed with the brand and the values they stand for," he said.
The two also are close with HomeStores licensee The Spencer Group of Saltillo, Miss., and have watched with interest as Spencer leveraged its people and systems to develop a second, multi-line retail format called Stash.
Ishee said he and Malouf liked the name "Savvy" for a retail concept because it suggests confidence and intelligence.
"We want our customer to feel smart when they shop with us," Ishee said. "We want to validate their choices and decisions."
Price tags will show the "Savvy price" and the retailer will be carry the savvy theme through all of its marketing.
Ishee and Malouf said that if Savvy Spaces succeeds in Charlotte, they'll look to roll out the brand in other markets the company is already serving - all within a 200-mile radius of its 150,000-square-foot distribution center in Charlotte.
"It's all about capturing market share and doing it in a smart way," Malouf said.
Broad River is interested in growth that brings stability to the company, he said. That's what its most recent openings in Columbia, S.C., Augusta, Ga., and Hickory offered, he said, and that's what Broad River believes it will get with the additional HomeStores as well as Savvy Spaces.
They said the Savvy Spaces brand takes nothing away from the role that Ashley continues to play in Broad River's success.
"We couldn't be happier with our Ashley stores and the model," Ishee said. "There's a reason why Ashley Furniture HomeStores is the No. 1 furniture retailer in the country, and we're proud to be a part of that. This is not competition to the HomeStores. We view it as a complementary brand."