Restoration Continues Textiles Push
Carole Sloan -- Casual Living, September 6, 2004
Corte Madera, Calif. — With a successful three-year push to increase its home textiles business, Restoration Hardware has increased its fall assortment by about one-third.
In 2000, under the aegis of Gary Friedman, then recently named president, the company outlined a litany of strategic initiatives. The most significant of which was a new approach to home textiles with a goal of quadrupling business.
In the case of Restoration Hardware, this meant a redo of its window-coverings selection, a new approach to top-of-the-bed, the development of proprietary window hardware, and decorative pillows and throws that could be integral parts of all product areas, especially furniture.
At the same time, Friedman outlined plans to curtail its dominant furniture business — not to de-emphasize it, but to make several other businesses more productive within the total store performance.
In the stores, furniture has been scaled back to less than 30 percent of total store sales — a figure that is reversed in the direct business, said Marta Benson, senior vice president of marketing and merchandising.
The stores range in size from 7,000 square feet to 14,000 square feet.
For fall, based on its "phenomenal growth," window coverings and top-of-the-bed have
been greatly expanded, reported Benson. In the retail assortment, a second wall of window-covering fabrics is shown in the stores including silk organza, Belgian linen, classic twill and iridescent velvets.
Even more has been added to the assortment in the rapidly growing catalog and Internet assortment, Benson reported.
Overall, Benson said, "We’re really getting a lot of traction on the strategic initiatives we announced in 2000. We’ve successfully grown the home textiles business — especially in window coverings and top-of-the-bed. Customers have really embraced our offerings."
In these areas, Benson continued, "Customers really appreciate the quality with products like Thai silk and Belgian linen." And in the window business particularly, "Customers appear to consider what we offer relevant and reliable."
The product line, developed internally, consistently "reflects the Restoration Hardware look — updated traditional. Classic timeless design but updated and fresh — but familiar," Benson said.
But while the assortment in the stores has been radically refigured, it is the Internet and catalog that are viewed as the major growth vehicles for the company. Indeed, said Benson, they already are showing substantial growth.
"The goal for the Internet is to provide our flagship assortment — the newest and the best," as well as showing everything that the company offers, Benson said. In bath hardware, for example, there are eight collections on the Web, and just a couple in the stores, depending on their size.
The Internet, she noted, "is growing like a weed and it’s pushing the catalog’s sales level, which it could exceed next year." But Benson does not underplay the role of the catalog. "It is our workhorse." The catalog goes to 38 million homes annually for the first book and re-mails average 2 to 4 million.
For retail customers, both the catalog and Internet "are information sources and also are used to consummate purchases," she said.
Looking ahead, Benson said, "We’re trying to hone our retail business model, making the stores more productive by a significant percentage before we open more stores." The company is on track to accomplish this, she reported, "and if the performance continues, we could start opening new stores in the third or fourth quarter."