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Hearth & Home January 2015

Richard Wright
Hearth & Home Magazine

Perspective: The Fast Pace of Electric Fires

It required two-and-a-half years of patience on our part to get an interview with Denis Normand, president and CEO of Dimplex North America. He wanted to first develop a comprehensive understanding of the company, its products and channels of distribution. With Dimplex, that’s a rather complicated undertaking.

Right now, both Dimplex and Normand are in an enviable position. The best estimate of unit sales of electric fireplaces in North America is better than two million, which is over three times the volume of wood and gas units combined. The sophistication of these products has now attracted the interest of architects and designers, and opened up the hospitality market – hotels, restaurants and resorts.

Tactical Moves by Brown Jordan

As foot traffic and sales decline at some designer showrooms, or when revenue disappears due to the closure of a key patio shop, Brown Jordan is doing what others have done in the past – opening a new, separate showroom in the area. That occurred in 2013 in Costa Mesa, California, and the new 6,000 sq. ft. store has been doing even better than projected.

This coming spring Brown Jordan will open a two-story flagship store in the new, and very upscale, Miami Design District. It will be based on a new concept, which is to serve consumers as well as designers, and the look will be bright, colorful and residential. Products such as tabletop, heat lamps, planters and water features will be added to present offerings of furniture, accessories and fire pits.

The goal, says CEO Gene Moriarty, “is to raise brand awareness and sell more Brown Jordan product in specific, underserved metropolitan markets.”

Stimulating a Conversation

Clearly, the major problem facing the patio industry is lack of growth in the specialty retail channel. After plummeting in sales in both 2008 and 2009, our surveys have shown that the average patio specialty retailer has either been down in sales, or even with the prior year. That’s a scenario that can’t be sustained for long as the costs of goods and services continue to increase.

The key questions the industry needs to answer are: What’s the main cause? and What can be done about it?

When Hearth & Home decided to run the article entitled “Keep Your Eye on the Doughnut” (November 2014), it was based on the desire to create a discussion of the problem within the industry. So far, Bew White – Summer Classics; Tom Murray – NorthCape; Erwin Gremmer – Domus Ventures; and now Bob Gaylord – Agio have weighed in.

We encourage others to write and give us their opinions, and hope to hear from more manufacturers as well as reps and specialty retailers.

More Stories in this Issue

Into the Lap of Luxury

By Tom Lassiter

Brown Jordan is taking its brand and company store to the Miami Design District, while expanding into the Outdoor Room from “A to Z.”

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Ethereal Flames

By Richard Wright

A conversation with Denis Normand, who is at the helm of the North American arm of Dimplex, the highly innovative company that created the present electric fireplace category.

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Burning Bridges

By Richard Wright

With one brief letter to a number of its dealers, New England Wood Pellet sent many of its customers on a frantic search for more pellets.

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Hitting the Gas

By Lisa Readie Mayer

Strong sales in 2014, along with healthy early-buys, signal good news for grill manufacturers and dealers in the coming year.

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One Hot Product!

By Tom Lassiter

As if plastic furniture isn’t hot enough, now we have plastic fire tables that add real flames to the category.

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By Tom Lassiter

Bill Herren, creative director at Woodard, has a huge load to carry, but as part of a three-person team he’s able to carry it ever so lightly.

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2014 November Business Climate

In early December, Hearth & Home faxed a survey to 2,370 specialty retailers of hearth, barbecue and/or patio products, asking them to compare November 2014 sales to November 2013. The accompanying charts and selected comments are from the 204 useable returns.

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Parting Shot: Living Art

Not everyone can realize their dreams, but for those who have the means to do so, Nancy Mullineaux of Dezign Inspirations/Home Design Resource is available to help.

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