Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. has accelerated the realignment of its store management structure to support its customer-focused initiatives and omnichannel growth. These actions are part of the company’s continuous efforts to improve and capitalize on the opportunities presented by the evolving retail landscape.
Steven H. Temares, Chief Executive Officer and member of the board of directors of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., stated, “With the evolution in retail, we continue to strengthen our digital infrastructure and invest heavily in areas such as analytics, information technology, pricing, e-commerce, marketing, supply chain, and our contact centers. As we work to continue to satisfy our customers through our omnichannel capabilities, the role of our stores is also evolving, and remains crucial to achieving our mission of being trusted by our customers as the expert for the home and heart-felt life events. The actions taken today to accelerate the realignment of our store management will allow us to better support our customer-focused initiatives as well as support our omnichannel growth, while driving operational excellence.”
The company, after an extensive and careful review, has initiated in approximately half of its U.S. Bed Bath & Beyond stores and about a dozen U.S. buybuy BABY stores, a limited realignment of its store management organization, primarily resulting in a reduction of about 880 department and assistant store manager positions. These actions accelerate a transition in store management roles that began more than a year ago through store hiring practices and attrition. These efforts simplify the store management structure and strengthen the company’s ability to meet the growing and changing desires of its customers by focusing additional staffing needs in non-management roles, and placing less emphasis on a management structure that supported a more rapid rate of store growth. There are no further reductions planned in connection with this realignment. After this transition is complete, the company expects overall staffing levels in-store to remain the same as before this realignment, or in some cases, increase.
These organizational changes are estimated to generate future annual pre-tax cost savings of approximately $16 million. Due to the timing of these changes, the pre-tax cost savings for the remainder of fiscal 2017 are estimated to be approximately $7 million. The company expects to incur pre-tax cash restructuring charges of approximately $17 million in fiscal 2017, primarily for severance and related costs in conjunction with these changes, all of which will be expensed in the second quarter.
By Lorrie Baumann
Jill Foucré founded Marcel’s Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with the idea that she was starting a recreational cooking school and also paying tribute to the grandfather whose cooking career had long inspired her interest in food and its preparation.
Her grandfather Marcel was a chef in France who emigrated to the U.S. in the late 1920s. He arrived in New York and made his way to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he opened a restaurant. Eventually, he adopted a more itinerant career – working at the Massachusetts beach resorts in summers and following the snowbirds to Florida for the winter season.
Foucré herself inherited some of that love for cooking. “I love to cook from scratch. I mean scratch-scratch,” she says. “I’m more of a cook than a baker. The precision of baking eludes me sometimes.” When she roasts a chicken, she saves the bones for stock, and she’s been known to roast a whole pig in her back yard for parties. “That was before I was a retail store owner,” she says. “I try to cook intuitively when possible. I tend to be a recipe cook, but I’m trying to do better.”
Marcel’s, opened by Foucré and her husband, Bob Bye, in 2011 in a 125-year-old building that has always been a commercial retail space, combines the cooking classes that were the original inspiration for the business with a 3,200 square foot retail area, including the 450 square foot kitchen located in a back corner, from where casual shoppers can hear the laughter and the buzz of conversation of a class enjoying its experience and smell the aromas of the food they’re preparing. Marcel’s offers about 240 to 250 classes a year taught by the eight local chefs who teach at the store on a regular basis. Many of the chefs who offer classes in the store find Foucré, but when she does recruit someone new, she looks particularly for teaching chefs rather than restaurant cooks. Classes include hands-on cooking classes, free demonstrations of single dishes and classes for children, as well as classes offered as private events. For July, the scheduled classes include an imaginary road trip to Nashville, a celebration of Bastille Day, a fantasy visit to dine out in the Mediterranean region and a cocktail party with essential summer appetizers as well as day camp sessions for children with lessons offering them imaginary experiences in foods from the West Coast or, for teenagers, a four-day course on pasta. There’s something going on in the shop’s kitchen almost every day of the month. “The kitchen represents between 25 and 30 percent of the revenue, and the rest is the retail,” Foucré says.
The classroom kitchen is supported by a more industrial kitchen behind the store that provides pantry space, a large refrigerator and offers the chefs a place to prepare for the classes and for an in-home private chef business just launched in June. Bye, a full-time store employee, as is Foucré herself, stocks the kitchen and maintains the entire building, which includes a couple of rental apartments over the store, as well as the building that houses Marché, the cheese shop a couple of doors down that’s also owned and operated by the couple.
On the sales floor around the classroom kitchen, Foucré stocks a broad range of cookware, a very few small electrics and a selection of tabletop items. Bakeware currently occupies the back corner opposite the classroom kitchen because Foucré has discovered that customers who are looking for a particular bakeware item because they need it for a recipe are willing to walk all the way through the store to find it, while those who are browsing for inspiration need to find something that interests them closer to the front door. “We definitely are a destination for gifts,” Foucré says. “We were very busy the day before Mothers Day. We had a table set up with things under $15 for kids to give.”
Although Le Creuset is the number two line in the store, most of the merchandise is chosen because customers can’t easily find the same item anywhere else in the area. Items represent an array of price points, so that Marcel’s has something special to offer the customer who needs a gift for $10 or less for a child’s teacher as well as the bride who’s registering for a mix of practical kitchenware and potential heirlooms. “What we’ve done with cookware is that we want to carry what we think is the top of the line for each type of cookware,” Foucré says. “We’re not trying to be 10 lines deep.”
The uniqueness of those items in the area is critical to bringing in customers who could also shop at Williams Sonoma, Crate and Barrel or any of the other kitchenware stores within a 10 mile radius of Foucré’s store in the western suburbs of Chicago. Like its younger sister store, Marché, Marcel’s Culinary Experience is located in a relatively affluent community of around 27,000 residents that’s about 45 minutes west of downtown Chicago. It’s a community of residents who understands the value of shopping local, which helps Foucré compete with the national chains, she says.
Also key to that competition is an intensive focus on the store’s social media marketing. Foucré has one part-time employee whose whole job is managing a program that includes a monthly newsletter that goes out to almost 6,000 people on the email list, a weekly email that lists the shop’s classes and a weekly email for Marché that goes to a subset of the Marcel’s email list as well as daily Facebook posts to entertain more than 4,000 followers and biweekly blog posts on the store’s website. Foucré also makes sure that her store is listed on the store finder features of her vendors’ websites. All of that is intended to lure customers into the brick and mortar shop rather than to sell merchandise online.
Customers register and pay for cooking classes online, but that’s the only thing that’s sold through the store’s website. “I have walked up to the edge of the cliff with merchandise a couple of times, but I have walked back,” Foucré says. “I don’t know that we can compete.”
Marcel’s is also heavily involved in marketing through community involvement, which has included staging houses for the Glen Ellyn Housewalk, an annual event that benefits Glen Ellyn Infant Welfare, as well as a broad range of donations for other community fundraisers. “We try to say yes to all of that,” Foucré says. “We’re active. We’re involved in the community. I live here. People know us.”
The Kuhn Rikon Corn Zipper and Corn Holders are fun kitchen tools that celebrate one of the favorite taste treats of summer, each with new CDUs designed to increase impulse sales.
The playful Corn Zipper unzips rows of kernels cleanly and safely off the cob. This handy tool is super sharp and easier than using a knife. The display holds 24 pieces, in a colorful, shallow countertop display unit. The Corn Zipper has a suggested retail price of $12 each.
Kuhn Rikon’s Corn Holder Display holds 12 sets in a shallow countertop display unit. These cheerful holders feature a soft, textured handle for a comfortable grip that keeps hands clean and cool. A corkscrew-style tip twists into the cob and remains firmly attached. The clever design allows the holders to stack together for convenient storage. The Corn Holder Set comes in a set of eight (four pairs), for suggested retail price of $12 each.
The new displays are available for immediate shipment.
Maple Run Emporium is celebrating its sixth anniversary at 49 Market Street in Potsdam, New York. The shop opened on April Fools Day 2011, and has been expanding its offerings ever since.
“The original idea was to sell maple candy and maple syrup,” said Owner Mary Hilton. “And it just snowballed. We’re not only a specialty maple shop, but also a kitchen store, gift shop, art gallery, and gourmet grocery. Ultimately, that’s an emporium!”
With more than 2,000 square feet available in the historic brick building, there was room to grow. The shop now features an Artisan Gallery of local artwork including paintings, pottery, wood-turnings and baskets. The shop’s main aisles showcase an impressive array of cookware, knives, cutting boards, utensils, textiles, stemware and books.
Maple specialty foods remain the focus of the shop, and there are continually new entries to this niche. “The current trend is bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup,” Hilton noted. “We had only one brand a few years ago, and now we have five.”
She also pointed out the popularity of maple-smoked products. The smoky maple wood flavor is featured not only in syrup, but also cheese, tea and salt. Maple syrup and maple sugar also add flavor to some unexpected products such as sardines, cocktail mixes and soy sauce.
Having the opportunity to taste a multitude of maple concoctions led Hilton to introduce the Maple Run Emporium brand of gourmet foods, which now includes maple teas, maple coffee, maple seasoning peppers, a maple chocolate drink mix and pancake mixes. The most recent introduction is Maple Organic Tea, which was just released this year.
The fragrance of maple is also a wonderful addition to scented products, Hilton said. The scent is created with essential oils and essences and added to formulations for the Maple Run Emporium brand of kitchen and bath products, which includes lotions, hand creams, body scrubs, candles, soaps and cleaners. So far this year Maple Run Emporium has introduced two new hand creams – Maple & Lavender and Maple & Rum.
“I’m always excited to find a unique new item and put it on the shelves,” Hilton said. “When people come in and ask ‘What’s new?’ I am absolutely delighted to show them!”
By Micah Cheek
Near the southern tip of California wine country, Kitchen Fantasy is catering to home cooks and restaurateurs alike.
Ernie Rodriguez, who has been selling kitchenware since 1984, has made his store thrive in the same shopping center as a Target and a Home Goods. “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” says Rodriguez. “A lot of times, [customers] go into Target looking for something and they’re disappointed.” Kitchen Fantasy maintains the attitude that the store should do everything online shopping does, including offering high value.
To compete with online prices, as well as the superstore prices nearby, Rodriguez buys in high volume. “We’re stocked floor to ceiling, merchandise on merchandise,” says Rodriguez. “It’s more pleasing to the customer to see that we’re stocking a full range of products.” Buying high volumes of merchandise obviously has its own drawbacks. If a product doesn’t sell well, there is a lot of stock to work through. This is where Kitchen Fantasy’s other major demographic comes in. “A lot of times, we’ll be sitting on a product for six to eight months, and a restaurant [owner] will come in and say, ‘This is the perfect guitar-shaped serving dish, can we get more of them?’”
The store has invested greatly into relationships with local restaurants. “We’re selling Chefworks and high-end knives for them, too,” says Rodriguez. “A lot of the local restaurants want me to just be a restaurant supply.” Surprisingly, professional equipment has sold quite well to home cooks as well. “Most of the homes here are a bit larger, with larger backyards. People will come in and buy stuff for these big events they do,” says Rodriguez. “Mom at home loves the restaurant supply stuff. It’s really great having those hotel pans, they’re so versatile.”
Kitchen Fantasy’s knife sharpening service also caters to both professional and home cooks. Along with a sharpening service with pickup and delivery for restaurants, Kitchen Fantasy has in-store sharpening for everyone. “People wash their knives in the dishwasher. They’re cutting on hard surfaces or granite countertops. We really stress making a conversation,” says Rodriguez. “People will come in and say, ‘You sharpened my knives two weeks ago and they’re already dull.’ That’s a good thing, that’s a conversation that will usually end in a sale. We can get them something that will hold an edge better for only $20 more.”
Kitchen Fantasy spares 400 square feet to cooking classes, currently taking on 12 classes a month on subjects ranging from French galettes to sushi. “Our sushi classes are the place where lots of people try sushi for the first time,” says Rodriguez. “We have a lot of frustrated chefs over here that want to put duck on the menu, and we’re the place where people get to try things like that.” Kids classes for parties are popular at the store, and Rodriguez doesn’t go easy on them. “With the popularity of baking shows on TV, they want to do baking competitions. We give a little class, and then they prepare the pastries for a judge the parents choose,” says Rodriguez. Kids from 8 to 13 learn techniques as complicated as crème anglaise and even souffles. “When you start with a good foundation, those things aren’t intimidating for you,” says Rodriguez. “If you learn how to make a souffle at 10, you’re up for almost any challenge.”
In the Temecula area, two products stand out with growing popularity. Sous vide circulators have gained interest with the potential for temperature-perfect steaks. “A few restaurants in town use it. It really helps your steak not get sent back,” Rodriguez adds. One of the selling points Rodriguez points out is the fact that it can hold foods at temperature for up to 12 hours without ill effect, and some cheaper cuts of meat are even improved by all that time in the water bath. Fermenting is popular because of the proposed health benefits, and a growing interest in artisan cooking. “You can always buy a fermenting crock for 200 or 300 dollars,” says Rodriguez. “That always stopped the home cook because you can buy a hundred pounds of sauerkraut for that! I picked up a line of home fermenting caps and weights, that’s a lot better for them.”
While these products have been on the rise, one tool is surprisingly stagnant for the area: grinders. While the casual observer would expect the interest in gluten free eating and natural foods in southern California would increase sales in flour makers, but the results haven’t been as expected. I have a few customers that who are really into it, but it’s one of those products that sits on the shelf for a long time. It’s sad, because there are stores that sell grains and rices in bulk, but it’s not really taking off right now.”
Like many other retailers, Rodriguez has noticed customers looking for more open stock pans rather than full sets, as a way to save money and specialize their kitchen sets. He has also been giving more advice on cookware materials and the effects of nonstick linings.