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.