Robb & Stucky grows by accessorizing

FT. MYERS, FL -Robb & Stucky considers its non-furniture efforts "a huge business, over $30 million" for the 13-unit, high-end specialty chain.

"We do about $10 million in windows alone, more than $5 million in floor coverings, some $2 million in bedding and linens," said Fred Berk, president of the company which had total sales of $176.5 million in '99.

Robb & Stucky, which long has been an advocate of intense accessorization of its furniture collections, often finds that "the bed coverings turn out to be more expensive than the bed," said Larry Cunningham, who heads the group that plans and buys the non-furniture items.

Explaining how important the company views the entire expanse of accessories-from textiles to rugs-that it offers, Cunningham said, "We used to allocate $10 per square foot for these business; now it's $14 to $15 per square foot, and the furniture store average nationally is $3 to $4 per square foot."

Not only is this approach significant in building furniture sales, "it's very profitable. Even though it has a slower turn than furniture, it produces 12 to 15 points higher margins," Cunningham related.

More than 600 vendors make up the non-furniture part of the business, an indication of how special each item is, Cunningham noted. In textiles, Ann Gish, Thief River Linens and Mystic Valley Traders are among the key suppliers.

Starting out, Cunningham travels with the furniture buyers at the High Point, NC, market visiting with key manufacturers. "Then we go out and shop the other markets, matching collections with color and styles from the accent areas. And we also go to Dallas and Atlanta."

Store presentation, Cunningham explained, "is broken up into lifestyles-relaxed, gracious living, traditional, easy living and the like. But with stores moving out of the Florida market into Texas and Arizona, he emphasized "we don't cookie-cut our presentations. [In Florida,] Naples is more affluent, Ft. Myers is more blue color."

Once a furniture collection comes in, it is accessorized, but it is not repeated beyond a second-time reorder."

Home & Textiles Today Staff | News & Commentary

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