NFM eyes Dallas store
Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, November 16, 2011
DALLAS - Nebraska Furniture Mart could be coming to Dallas with its largest store to date anchoring a major commercial development.
NFM Executive Vice President Bob Batt confirmed last week that the Omaha, Neb.-based retailer, part of Berkshire Hathaway's furniture division, has tentative plans to build a 1.8 million-square-foot complex with a 546,000-square-foot showroom in The Colony, Texas, a north Dallas suburb.
Batt said the store would be part of a $1.5 billion project the retailer would develop on 433 acres along State Highway 121 that would also include other retailers, hotels, a convention center, "amusements" and other businesses, "making it a big destination."
NFM estimated that the first phase of the development could draw 8 million customers a year and that its store alone could do $600 million to $800 million in annual sales.
"It's not a done deal yet, but it's on the right track," Batt said. Asked if the store would be called Nebraska Furniture Mart, he indicated that's undecided, noting, "We're going to do research to make sure we have the proper name for the marketplace.
"We're looking to break the mold when it comes to developments," he said, adding that in his 49 years at NFM, "this is far and away the biggest thing ever."
If all goes well, construction would start this spring and the store - NFM's largest - would open some time in 2015.
Batt said the company has been eyeing expansion since the day in 2003 when it opened its Kansas City, Kan., store. It eventually narrowed it prospects down to five cities, including Nashville and St. Louis.
One of the attractions of Dallas is its sheer size, he said, noting that there are 6.5 million people living in the Dallas Metroplex compared with 800,000 people in metro Omaha and 2.6 million in greater Kansas City.
"It's not a done deal yet, but it's on the right track.... We're looking to break the mold when it comes to developments."
Bob Batt, Nebraska Furniture Mart, Omaha, Neb.
Dallas will offer heated competition in home furnishings with a field that includes retailers such Rooms To Go, Ashley Furniture HomeStores, Havertys, Freed's, Stacy Furniture, The Dump, Weir's Furniture Village, FAMSA, Ikea, The RoomStore and others.
Batt declined to comment directly about the competition.
"There's so much potential business there," he said. "We do our due diligence, and we just think it's such a great marketplace. The whole state of Texas - they know how to do business down there. It's a great economic engine."
North Dallas in particular has a booming economy, he said, noting that it's a hotspot for corporate headquarters and manufacturing and distribution facilities.
Batt said he believes a Dallas store - offering the primary NFM categories of furniture, flooring, electronics and appliances - would draw consumers not just from Texas but from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana as well.
But he emphasized, "We do not have a final deal. It's a work in progress."
Furniture/Today market research estimates furniture and bedding sales in the Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Texas, metro area will total $1.6 billion this year.
Jeff Lind, NFM chief strategy and development officer, said furniture, bedding and accessories account for roughly half of NFM's current sales, but added, "We anticipate Dallas will be substantially different," partly because of competitive factors. But he declined to say whether that means NFM expects to see the sales mix there weighted more or less by furniture.
A local report in The Colony Courier-Leader said several steps remain before the project comes to fruition, including the formation of a tax increment reinvestment zone by The Colony city council.