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Pier 1 Imports continues to expand store base

While other retailers are paring their store bases, Pier 1 Imports, the Fort Worth, TX-based retailer saw a 7 percent gain in its 900 plus store base last year, and expects 8 percent growth for this year and next.

Though its typically sized stores average 9,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet and $1.6 million in annual sales, Pier 1 has seen success in its newer smaller and larger formats, said Marvin Girouard, chairman and ceo, at the Bear Stearns conference here last week. The company previously "shunned" smaller markets, with populations of 20,000 to 40,000, but it has since found opportunity in these areas because there is little competition, the rents are cheaper and workers are easier to find.

On the other end, Pier 1 also found that communities where people owned larger homes needed larger stores and merchandise specifically targeting homes instead of apartments. So it first expanded its Dallas store from 9,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet and has since done the same in locations such as Houston, Denver, and, opening several weeks ago, Southampton, NY. These formats typically bring in about $3 million to $4 million in annual sales.

The company added that several markets, such as New York and New Jersey, are understored, with several 9,000-square-foot locations having sales of more than $3 million. In some of these markets he thought that the retailer could open a store within a 10 mile radius and not impact the existing store.

To support the expanding regions of the country, Pier 1 will enlarge its Savannah distribution center to service the Southeast area, and it will likely open a satellite DC on the West Coast within two to three years to serve locations in the Pacific Northwest up to Vancouver, Girouard said.

The company also launched its new website in December, and though it is a great marketing tool, it is only the equivalent of three to five stores.

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