Veltri to head Thomasville
Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, June 17, 2013
THOMASVILLE, N.C. - Industry watchers are hopeful that a recently announced change in leadership at Thomasville Furniture could help the brand recapture some of the market share and floor space it has lost in recent years.
Company parent Furniture Brands International announced June 7 that it was replacing former president Ed Teplitz with Kathy Veltri, an executive with Ohio-based retailer Arhaus Furniture.
Veltri, who has 20-plus years of experience in retail, is the second female leader of the company in recent years after Nancy Webster, a former Target executive who held the job from August 2005 until fall 2007, when Teplitz came on board.
Veltri, who reports to Furniture Brands CEO Ralph Scozzfava, has been with Top 100 retailer Arhaus since 2006, most recently as senior vice president of sales and marketing.
Previously, she worked for retailers, Cole National which includes Pearl Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical, as well as Sight Resource Inc. and J.B. Robinson Jewelers.
Teplitz came to the company from Ethan Allen's retail division, where he was executive vice president of the new Ethan Allen Retail subsidiary the company created in August 2005. Teplitz did not return calls seeking comment for this story. Company officials also did not comment on the circumstances of his departure, which was classified as a not for cause involuntary termination in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Under company policy, he is expected to receive a severance package totaling $946,120. His total compensation in 2012, including stock options, was $561,769.
At Furniture Brands, he managed both the Drexel Heritage and Thomasville brands for most of his five and a half years with the company. Earlier this year, he was put in charge exclusively of Thomasville, while the company placed Drexel Heritage under its Designer Brands unit, which is run by Dan Bradley.
In a proxy statement issued in March, the company said Drexel Heritage performed well in 2012, with sales and profit above budget. The Thomasville brand, it said, didn't perform as well, but that the company owned Thomasville stores performed better than the independently owned stores.
In 2012, the company had 50 independently owned stores and 48 company-owned Thomasville stores. Estimated sales were down 8.3% from 2011, to $220 million, according to Furniture/Today's ranking of Top 100 U.S. Furniture Stores.
Veltri will be based at the Furniture Brands corporate headquarters in St. Louis.
"Joining the Thomasville team is very exciting," Veltri said in a statement released with the June 7 announcement. "There are tremendous opportunities ahead for this brand to create a best in- class retail environment, while offering amazing fashion for the home."
The company sells middle to upper middle priced upholstery and case goods.
In recent years, the company has made strides to bolster its line with transitional, contemporary and even industrial-inspired forms. However, some of its initiatives have fallen flat, including a short lived line it developed in partnership with designer Darryl Carter. However, the company reportedly continues to do well with its Ernest Hemingway line and also has received some positive reaction for its eclectic approach to product development.
Still, some retailers say they are looking for more innovation and design that performs better with consumers.
"Thomasville is all about product, and we have not been getting the product lines we need to increase our Thomasville business," said Bill Bacon, president of Bacon's Furniture & Design in Port Charlotte, Fla. "Our business continues to decline with Thomasville because of that."
Bacon said he once had a Thomasville store and gallery, which together were over 12,000 square feet in size. Now it devotes about 1,500 square feet to the line on its floor.
Bill Kimbrell, CEO of Houston- based Star Furniture, said he was sorry to see Teplitz leave, saying he "seemed to be a capable leader."
However, he welcomed Veltri to the position and said he looks forward to seeing the direction the company takes with new product development.
"We welcome freshness, product innovation and some updating," he said, adding, "It's still an important line to Star."