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BBB: 2013 a year of execution

Morristown, N.J. - If 2012 was a year of incubation for the industry's largest retailer, than this will be one of execution, says Steve Temares, president and CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond speaking after the company's annual meeting here earlier today.
Following its usual perfunctory 16-minute formal meeting, attended by a scant audience of perhaps a dozen shareholders and financial industry members, Temares told Home Textiles Today that the groundwork laid out last year will now start to be seen by both shoppers and those doing business with the retail giant.
"Last year we focused on incubating things but this year it's about execution," said Temares, who took questions after the meeting, which was conducted by BBB co-chairmen and founders Warren Eisenberg and Len Feinstein.
Temares pointed to the company's acquisitions of Cost Plus and Linen Holdings, its build-out of a new online platform and fulfillment center and its massive relocation of its merchandising group to corporate headquarters in New Jersey as steps taken to strengthen the company.
Cost Plus will follow Bed Bath's customary cautious expansion program with only a few new stores this year and the integration of the retailer's food and beverage departments into selected BBB units.
A more aggressive rollout is being stymied by local laws in some areas that restrict the sale of alcohol, which has been a core business for Cost Plus. "We have stores that don't have alcohol but these are not the stores we prefer to open," he said.
"We've been patient over time and we're not in a rush."
A new website for Bed Bath is scheduled to launch by the end of the company's second quarter this summer, backed up by a major new distribution center in Georgia. The company's Buy Buy Baby unit already launched its new site earlier this year.
Temares said the company has created a new analytical group to analyze its sales patterns, particularly when it comes to couponing, which Bed Bath has said has been running at higher redemption and cash value rates than previously.
"We want to coupon a lot smarter and motivate the shoppers' behavior better," he said. The company's proxy statement mentioned "overall information technology systems" as an area where it improved over the past year.
The company's Christmas Tree unit is also getting some tweaking with an existing store being rebranded under a new name -- And That! -- an attempt he said to better explain the store's largely non-seasonal merchandise mix to new shoppers. Right now only one store carries the new name but the first all-new And That! unit will open in Flint, Mich., in October. Other existing Christmas Tree stores will retain their original names but when the chain opens in a new market it will likely open under the new name, he explained.
The relocation of the merchandising staff is completed and while Temares admitted a number of mid and lower level staffers did not make the move, he said virtually the entire senior staff was retained. "We're thrilled with our staff," he added.
With multiple nameplates, formats and footplates, Temares said the company has a challenge but also a great opportunity to build and grow. "To have all these pieces of a puzzle, you can make a great mosaic."

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