The restoration turns out to be good business for Raymour & Flanigan. One of the nation’s largest furniture retail chains with 130 stores, the Liverpool, New York-based company is aggressively entering the commercial furniture market with its new B2B initiative targeting buyers of hospitality, institutions and health care facilities.
For a retailer that has always focused on consumers furnishing their homes, this represents a big expansion. So far, everything seems to be going well: “We have already exceeded our expectations for the first year, and we expect to double next year.” Jennifer De Gennarothe company’s director of business development, says Home business. “The response has been outstanding so far.”
Raymour & Flanigan had sold to the professional client before, but never under a formalized program until earlier this year when it launched a full suite of benefits including trade discounts, special financing, a high-end delivery service, a special order of dedicated product, and local support for charities and social associations that become customers.
The company is not the first furniture retailer to tackle this sector, but it is putting its full weight behind the program. “We said, ‘If other people can do it, if Bob’s and Williams-Sonoma can do it, Raymour and Flanigan can do it,'” DeGennaro explained. “And we think we can do better.”
Tackle business customers of course presents challenges for a retailer accustomed to dealing with individuals who furnish their own homes. Product selections can be very different from what’s on the floor – the company doesn’t yet sell online – and the typical furniture store salesperson isn’t necessarily used to dealing with size, scale and logistical complexity of commercial orders. DeGennaro says that, in an effort to meet B2B customer demands, the company provided special training to more than 1,600 employees.
In addition to targeting commercial enterprises, the company hopes to reach designers, architects and home stagers. Although there are plans to develop an in-store presence for the program, the company relies heavily on its retail force to work with these potential new customers.
DeGennaro says the best sellers to date have come from the housing sector, including assisted living facilities, transitional housing centers and senior housing. Although she declined to give revenue projections for the new operation — a decision consistent with Raymour’s private ownership and its longstanding policy of not freeing up its finances — DeGennaro says the retailer has had its best year yet. last year and sees the B2B business as “a way to maintain this trend and generate more revenue.
Homepage photo: A 3D rendering of a common space for Raymour & Flanigan’s new B2B collection | Courtesy of Raymour & Flanigan