Already the largest furniture retail chain in the country, Ashley has decided to up its game with a major refresh of its brand and stores that will begin before the end of the year.
The company traces its roots back to the 1940s, and for many years only made occasional furniture in a small plant in rural Wisconsin, until mergers and a major growth spurt in the 1990s helped make it the behemoth it is today. Now, the brand’s challenge isn’t size, but audience: It’s latest efforts are a continuation of an ongoing endeavor to keep its more than 1,000 stores relevant and up to date. But the shortening of its store name to just Ashley—from Ashley HomeStore—is more of a subtle refresh than a major change in strategy.
“The rebranding was prompted by the company’s desire to adopt a simpler and more modern appearance,” Kelly Davis, vice president of marketing strategy for Ashley Global Retail LLC, told Business of Home in an interview earlier this month. “The goal was to create a cohesive brand identity across all touch points, including the stores’ look and product assortment, to align with the new branding direction and enhance the overall customer experience.”
The company’s retail stores, which number more than 1,125 locations in 67 countries—including about 1,000 in the U.S.—are mostly licensed or franchised to independent retailers, many of which also operate furniture stores under their own brands. The company declined to give a breakdown of its store mix or how much of its volume comes from those stores versus wholesaling to an estimated 20,000 retailers around the world.
By the end of this year, the first batch of refreshed stores will open in Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Los Angeles; and Orlando and Tampa in Florida. It will be an ongoing process to convert the balance—while the new name won’t necessarily mean an expansion of the current mix of furniture, mattresses, decorative accessories and home decor into additional categories, shoppers will notice some new enhancements.
“The cohesive branding across all touch points—including the stores’ appearance and product assortment—creates a consistent and recognizable brand identity among consumers,” said Davis. “The updated store look will provide a more inviting shopping environment, highlighting new product offerings inspired by current design trends to enhance the overall shopping experience and encourage customers to spend more time exploring products and their benefits.”
Davis said the stores will also offer enhanced navigation and a “seamless shopping experience” both in-person and online. Ashley also recently introduced a program of lower-priced products, which aim to “bring savings back to customers”—and offer affordable solutions to a new generation of home shoppers.
This latest move continues Ashley’s ongoing campaign to reinvent itself to keep up with changing customer preferences, said Davis. “The rebrand seeks to maintain relevance among consumers while attracting a younger demographic of customers who are looking for an upscale and on-trend look at an affordable price point.”
Homepage image: Courtesy of Ashley
Warren Shoulberg is the former editor in chief for several leading B2B publications. He has been a guest lecturer at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business; received honors from the International Furnishings and Design Association and the Fashion Institute of Technology; and been cited by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other media as a leading industry expert. His Retail Watch columns offer deep industry insights on major markets and product categories.