Honoring the Top 100 leaders of the pack, rookies of the year

Ashley HomeStores

With more than 1,075 locations in 155 countries around the globe, Ashley is the largest furniture brand in the world. Founded by Ron Wanek in 1970 in Arcadia, Wis., the company employs more than 17,000 in the U.S. with more than 30 million square feet of manufacturing and distribution space worldwide. As of April 2022, Ashley has 789 domestic stores between its Ashley HomeStore and Ashley Outlet banners. It opened its first HomeStore in 1997.

In 2020, Ashley had an estimated $5.06 billion in furniture, accessory and bedding sales across 752 stores. Notable franchises that own and operate HomeStores include Dufresne Spencer Group, City Furniture, Mathis Brothers, Regency Furniture, Furniture Mart USA, Broad River Retail, Crest Furniture, Morris Furniture, The Wellsville Group, Boston FAM, Trivett’s Furniture, 1915 South, Sam Levitz Furniture, Empresas Berrios, C.S. Wo & Sons, The Parrott Group, Knoxville Wholesale Furniture and Levin Furniture & Mattress, among others.

Average unit size for a conventional Ashley HomeStore is about 40,000 square feet and about 15,000 to 20,000 square feet for the smaller rural market stores. Showrooms feature complete lifestyle vignettes including lighting, rugs and wall art. Product categories include bedroom, dining room, upholstery, leather, occasional tables, home office, youth bedroom, recliners, mattresses and accessories.

Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma Inc. positions itself as the world’s largest digital-first, design-led and sustainable home retailer. The company’s products, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Pottery Barn Teen, West Elm, Williams Sonoma Home, Rejuvenation and Mark and Graham are marketed through e-commerce websites, direct-mail catalogs and retail stores.

Williams-Sonoma operates in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, offers international shipping to customers worldwide and has unaffiliated franchisees that operate stores in the Middle East, the Philippines, Mexico, South Korea and India, as well as e-commerce websites in certain locations. Estimated 2020 furniture, accessory and bedding sales totaled $3.749 billion across 581 stores.

In 2021, Williams-Sonoma announced that it is setting a science-based target for emissions reduction across its value chain by 2030, including the goal of carbon neutrality in the company’s own operations by 2025. In March of this year, it committed to planting 6 million trees by 2023 in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. This new goal doubled Williams-Sonoma, Inc.’s original commitment made by the Pottery Barn brand in January of 2021 of planting 3 million trees within the same timeframe.

In 2021, net revenues grew to $8.245 billion, up 21.6% from $6.783 billion Williams-Sonoma reported in FY2020. The company’s cross-brand customers – who shop across its various home furnishings nameplates – accounted for approximately 60% of total sales. Cross-brand customer counts also grew faster in 2021 than those of the single-brand customer.

Ikea

Swedish retailer Ikea is named after the initials of founder Ingvar Kamprad; Elmtaryd, the farm on which he grew up; and Agunnaryd, the nearby village. Kamprad founded the brand in 1943. Today, its world headquarters is located in Delft, The Netherlands, while its U.S. operations are led from Conshohocken, Pa.

The company’s top product categories for fiscal 2020 were outdoor furniture, office furniture, living room storage, bedroom furniture and dining furniture. In January 2021, Ikea opened Ikea Queens, a small-format store where customers can shop for home furnishings accessories and have larger, flat-pack furniture delivered. Sales of furniture, accessories and bedding reached an estimated $3.177 billion in 2020 across 51 stores.

Ingka Group (Ingka Holding B.V. and its controlled entities) is one of 12 different groups of companies that own and operate Ikea retail under franchise agreements with Inter Ikea Systems B.V. Ingka Group has three business areas: Ikea Retail, Ingka Investments and Ingka Centres. Ingka Group is a strategic partner in the Ikea franchise system, operating 389 Ikea stores in 32 countries, including 52 retail locations in the U.S.

Between September 2020 and August 2021, Ingka Investments planted 600,000 seedlings, afforested 1,186 acres in the U.S. and planted close to 7 million seedlings globally. To guarantee that its forest management meets the highest environmental and social standards, all Ingka Investments forests are audited and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Mattress Firm

Mattress Firm, which positions itself as the nation’s largest omni-channel mattress specialty retailer, was founded in 1986 and has history spanning some 90 years thanks to brands under its umbrella. It was acquired by South African global holding company Steinhoff International Holdings, which specializes in retail businesses, for $2.4 billion in 2016. In 2020, Mattress Firm’s estimated sales reached $2.976 billion across 2,419 stores.

Products offered in store and online include brands such as Beautyrest, Nectar, Sealy, Serta, Simmons, Sleepy’s, Stearns & Foster, Tempur-Pedic, Tuft & Needle, Tulo and Purple.

The brand is known for its national marketing campaigns, including its most recent, “Unjunk Your Sleep” featuring actor Liev Schreiber.

Mattress Firm supports local and national charities through product and monetary donations and offers employee volunteering opportunities to serve their communities.

Its Sleep.com website provides advice and helps people explore the health benefits of quality sleep, and the Sleep.com app provides free sleep tracking and personalized insights to improve sleep.

The company added to its executive team in April. Bedding industry veteran Mark Quinn joined the company in as vice president of merchandising, luxury and premium mattress while Mickey Merkle came on board as chief marketing and experience officer.

Rooms To Go

Rooms To Go is a privately owned mid-priced chain with stores in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama and Virginia, as well as several franchise units in Puerto Rico. Operations include Rooms To Go, Rooms To Go Kids & Teens, Rooms To Go Patio, clearance centers and online sales. In 2020, Rooms To Go posted an estimated $2.85 billion in sales across 151 stores.

Over the years, it has continuously refined and developed its dedication to the recycling program first initiated in 1992 and have prevented more than 600 million pounds of solid waste from entering landfills. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recognized Rooms To Go for outstanding recycling efforts.

Rooms To Go has ongoing donation initiatives to several organizations, like Casa de Esperanza which mobilizes Latinas and Latin communities to end domestic violence, furniture banks like Mustard Seed of Central Florida, veteran groups, hurricane victims, as well as efforts toward local charities where percentages of grand opening store sales are contributed.
During the pandemic of 2020, Rooms To Go purchased and donated a PCR machine to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami which allows for Covid test results in a matter of hours versus days. It also made donations to Memorial Hermann Medical Center in Houston which provided an urgent need toward thermal scanners and 5,000 meals to the front-line staff.

RH

RH is a publicly held luxury retailer in the home furnishings marketplace operating an integrated business across multiple channels of distribution made up of its stores, Source Books and websites. Headquartered in Corte Madera, Calif., RH posted an estimated $2.676 billion in sales in 2020 across 101 storefronts.

RH reported net revenues for fiscal year 2021 at $3.759 billion, a 32% increase over 2020. CEO Gary Friedman believes the retailer will continue to grow but offered conservative guidance for 2022 based on a slight softening in demand in the marketplace as well as global events, such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

For fiscal 2022, he set net revenue growth in the range of 5% to 7%, compared with 32% in 2021, with adjusted operating margin in the range of 25% to 26% compared with 25.6% in 2021.

The company plans to open RH San Francisco in late spring, the RH Guesthouse in early summer, RH England in mid-to-late summer and RH Palo Alto in the fourth quarter.

On its website, the company describes itself as a curator of design, taste and style in the luxury lifestyle market, offering furniture, lighting, textiles, rugs, bathware, décor and outdoor, as well as baby and child and teen products.

Berkshire Hathaway furniture division
(Nebraska Furniture Mart, RC Willey, Jordan’s, Star Furniture) 

The furniture division of Berkshire Hathaway includes Nebraska Furniture Mart, RC Willey, Star Furniture and Jordan’s Furniture. In 2020, it posted an estimated $1.932 billion in furniture, accessory and bedding sales across 34 storefronts.

As of 2020, NFM operated five stores: a 475,000-square-foot showroom in Omaha; a 450,000-square-foot showroom in Kansas City, Kan.; a 560,000-square-foot showroom in The Colony, Texas, a suburb of Dallas; a Homemakers Furniture store in Des Moines, Iowa; and a 65,000-square-foot store that specializes in flooring, appliances and electronics in Clive, Iowa. In December 2021, NFM revealed plans to open a store in Austin, Texas with a surrounding retail and entertainment complex similar to what it created at The Colony.

Jordan’s operated seven retail locations and a distribution center, with three stores and the distribution center located in the greater Boston area; one retail store includes a Colossal Clearance Center. The other three stores are in Warwick, R.I.; New Haven, Conn.; and in Nashua, N.H.

RC Willey operated 12 stores: six in northern Utah, three in Nevada, two in California and one in Idaho. It has three distribution centers that support operations in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Sacramento, Calif.

Star Furniture operated 10 stores in Texas, with seven showrooms, including a clearance outlet, in the Houston area and one store each in Austin, San Antonio and Bryan/College Station.

Big Lots

Big Lots is a publicly held discount retailer operating stores in 47 states. Its stores are primarily in strip shopping centers offering value-priced merchandise from both traditional and close-out channels. Furniture — including upholstery, mattresses, case goods, ready-to-assemble and patio furniture — is sourced either from recognized brand-name manufacturers or sold under its own brand. Included in this list is Ashley, Lane, Serta, Acme and Ameriwood.

During 2021, Big Lots expanded its offerings under the Broyhill brand and accelerate new store openings. Broyhill generated more than $400 million in first year sales, and the company projects it is on track to being a $1 billion brand by the end of 2022. In 2020, its estimated sales totaled $1.884 billion across 1,410 stores.

Prior to onboarding Broyhill, Big Lots’ furniture and home furnishings assortment was organized with Just Home, Living Colors and Great Gatherings representing its good/better/best value propositions. Now with Broyhill at the top of the value structure, the retailer has reconfigured, consolidating those three brands into Real Living, which encompasses good/better while Broyhill represents its better/best value proposition.

Big Lots plans a net gain of some 50 stores in FY2022 while rolling out programs to drive merchandise productivity and continue to improve supply chain infrastructure to serve customers how, when and where they want to shop.

Sleep Number

Sleep Number is publicly held, founded in 1987. As a purpose-driven company in health and wellness, Sleep Number’s mission is to improve lives by individualizing sleep experiences. Sleep Number offers consumers high-quality, individualized sleep solutions and services.

The majority of the company’s sales are direct to consumers through Sleep Number stores in all 50 states, online at SleepNumber.com and via phone. The remaining sales are from the wholesale channel that sells to and through selected retail and wholesale customers in the U.S., sales not included. Online, phone and chat sales accounted for approximately 15% of 2020 sales.

Units average 2,926 square feet. Average sales per square foot, $1,051. Average stock turns, 8.4 times. Average gross margin, 62.3%. Same store sales increased 6% in 2020 at company-controlled stores. Its 2020, estimated sales reached $1.851 across 602 storefronts.

Over the next six years, the American Cancer Society will use Sleep Number’s proprietary sleep data and expertise to investigate the impact of sleep on cancer prevention and recovery. The goal, the organizations say, is to improve sleep for cancer patients and survivors. By leveraging more than 13 billion hours of sleep data generated from Sleep Number’s 360 smart beds in conjunction with cancer prevention studies, ACS will study the effects of cancer on patients’ and survivors’ nighttime sleep and biometric patterns. The collaboration between the two organizations will enable cancer research and prevention tied to sleep quality.

Bob’s Discount Furniture

Privately owned, Bob’s Discount Furniture was founded in 1991 and is a promotional to mid-priced chain operating 135 stores across 22 states from coast to coast. The company also operates 25 outlets within existing stores. In 2020, Bob’s reached an estimated $1.713 billion in sales across 135 stores.

Bill Barton, CEO of the Manchester, Conn.-based retailer, told Furniture Today that, while the company is focusing this year on filling the gaps within its existing regional trading areas, “we have a plan in the long term to fill in the rest of the white space in North America.”

Of the 16 stores scheduled to open this year, 14 will be new, with two serving as replacements for stores within existing markets. The company also will open its northernmost California location with multiple stores slated for the Sacramento region. This year’s expected growth is on top of 31 stories that Bob’s opened between 2020 and 2021. It’s part of a long-term plan to reach consumers across the country wherever and however they want to shop. The strategy bore fruit in 2021, as Bob’s reported 17.6% growth in delivered sales.

Its new 622,230-square-foot distribution facility in Piscataway, N.J., has 40-foot clear heights, 125 dock doors, 302 automobile parking spaces and 127 spaces for trailers. Additionally, it is LEED Silver certified for meeting high energy efficiency performance standards, and the design, construction and operation are deemed to be environmentally responsible.

Top 100 honorees – Fastest Growing Retailers

Tempur Sealy

Tempur Sealy Inc. is a publicly held, vertically integrated bedding company that develops, manufactures and markets bedding products worldwide through third-party retailers, its own retail stores and online. Sales and store counts are based on direct-to-consumer sales in the U.S., from company-owned retail stores, e-commerce sites and call centers.

At year-end 2020, the company operated 80 Tempur-Pedic stores located in high-traffic, premium retail centers in 28 states and 102 Sleep Outfitters stores in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Stores offer an extensive selection of the company’s portfolio of brands — Tempur-Pedic, Sealy and Stearns & Foster — as well as pillows, mattress covers, sheets, cushions and various other comfort products. There were an additional 16 Sleep Outfitters outlets in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Missouri.

In 2020, TSI reached an estimated $367.1 million in sales across 198 storefronts. That sales figure jumped 53% from 2019’s estimated sales of $240 million.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, the Kentucky-based sleep products retailer registered double-digit increases in units, percentage increase in units and equivalent-store sales, while also topping the list for percentage increase in sales based on a more than $127 million bump in its 2020 sales figure, another Top 10 metric.

Big Sandy Superstore

A family/employee-owned business founded in 1953, Big Sandy Superstore is a mid-priced chain operating 31 units in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and Michigan, two of which are outlet stores in Ashland and Lexington, Ky. The retailer also sells product online; 5% of 2020 sales were online.

Key vendors include Affordable, Ashley, Bernhardt, Jackson-Catnapper, Craftmaster, England, Flexsteel, Southern Motion, Serta, Simmons, Purple, Nectar, Home Stretch and Tempur-Pedic. In 2020, its average stock turned five times per year, and its average gross margin was 40%. Same-store sales increased by 40% in 2020.

In 2020, Big Sandy Superstore opened a unit in Marion, Ohio, and took over seven former Art Van locations in Indiana, Michigan and Missouri. In 2021, it took over an Art Van location in Evansville, Ind., believed to be the last store to carry that banner.

Big Sandy’s total 2020 sales of furniture, bedding and accessories came in at $184 million in 2020 across 31 stores, a 48.4% increase in sales over 2019.

During a retail panel at Furniture Today’s Leadership Conference in December 2021, Big Sandy Superstore CEO Robert Van Hoose said he would like for Big Sandy’s website to be the Top 100 retailer’s largest store by sales volume. Van Hoose said prior to the pandemic, the Big Sandy website would have ranked around 20th among the Franklin Furnace, Ohio-based retailer’s store lineup. Today, it’s seventh, due largely in part to the change in consumer attitudes around buying online.

Lovesac

The publicly owned Lovesac Company designs, manufactures and sells high-quality furniture comprised of modular sofas called Sactionals and premium foam beanbag chairs called Sacs. The Sacs were the company’s first product, developed in 1995.

The specialty furniture brand is sold in showrooms operating across 36 states and online. The company also operated temporary online pop-up shops with Costco.com and Best Buy shop-in-shops. Average sales per square foot, $1,676. Average gross margin, 54.5%.

In 2020, Lovesac opened 19 showrooms and closed two. In 2020, estimated sales totaled $320.7 million across 108 stores, a 37.4% increase over 2019’s estimated sales.

Mary Fox, who was named president and chief operating officer in late 2021, brings a strong digital and brand-building background that spans a 25-year career in the consumer goods sector, significant experience in scaling businesses, and extensive supply chain and operations expertise.

In 2021, Lovesac’s net sales came in at $498.2 million, which is a 55.3% increase over 2020’s net sales of $320.7 million. Gross profit for the full year came in at $273.3 million, which is a 56.4% increase over the previous year’s gross profit of $178.4 million.

Gardner-White

Gardner-White is a family-owned retailer serving southeastern Michigan since 1912. It operates 12 promotional to mid-priced stores in metro Detroit, with two in Warren and one each in Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Brighton, Canton, Macomb Township, Novi, Southfield, Taylor, Waterford and Rochester Hills.

Units average 32,500 square feet. Gardner-White also sells online. Average sales per square foot, $482.

Key vendors include Serta, Simmons, Sealy, Tempur-Pedic, Aireloom, Purple, Lifestyle, Cheers/Mahwah, Futura, H317, Flexsteel, Southern Motion, Peak, Jonathan Louis, Ashley, Affordable, Maxhome, H.M. Richards, E.J. Lauren, Sofamaster, Woodhaven, Daniel’s Amish, Gascho, Napa, Magnussen, Liberty, Avalon, Trendwood, Steve Silver, Jofran, Rustique, Stylecraft, Century, Vanguard, Rowe and Bernhardt.

Estimated total sales in 2020 reached $188 million across 12 stores, which represents a 40.3% increase over 2019’s sales figures.

In 2021, Gardner-White moved into the Warren, Mich., corporate headquarters, warehouse and flagship of former longtime Midwestern powerhouse Art Van Furniture. It also took over six former Art Van stores and re-opened them in Canton, Rochester Hills, Saginaw and Shelby Township. Also that year, it partnered with Mississippi-based Max Home to create the Detroit Furniture collection.

Big Lots

In a new presentation outlining its long-term goals, Big Lots announced plans to open more than 50 new units in 2022 and ramp up to more than 80 per year afterward. Overall, the 1,428-unit retailer sees more than 500 opportunities to establish stores in fill-in areas, rural/small-town markets and under-penetrated geographies.

Those 500-plus potential new stores could add $1.5 billion to $2 billion. Big Lots is also forecasting e-commerce penetration of 10% to 15%, which would add $500 million to more than $1 billion to sales. Taken together, those gains would raise annual sales to $8 billion to $10 billion.

Big Lots’ top-line Broyhill brand — which spans furniture, mattresses, fashion bedding, utility bedding, bath and décor — rang up more than $700 million in 2021, up 7% from the previous year. The moderately priced Real Living brand, which covers the same range of categories, generated more than $600 million in sales for the year.

Top 100 honorees – Rookies of the Year

At Home

A privately held operator of home décor superstores, At Home founded in 1979 as Garden Ridge. The retailer sells everyday and seasonal merchandise, more than 75% of which is unbranded, private label or made specifically for At Home.

Its stores, which are located in 40 states, offer more than 50,000 SKUs in an average of 105,000 square feet, and its superstores range from 75,000 to 165,000 square feet. The company operates distribution centers in Plano, Texas, and Carlisle, Pa., which are designed to support a store base of up to 350 units.

Home furnishings includes indoor, outdoor, office and accent furniture and mattresses; and accessories such as mirrors, rugs, lighting and wall art.

On May 6, 2021, private equity Firm Hellman & Friedman announced it had agreed to buy At Home Group for an all-cash transaction valued at $2.8 billion. 2020 sales reached an estimated $573 million across 219 stores.

At Home kicked off its 2022 expansion with the opening of new stores in six states. The six February opens bring the retailer’s store count to 241 units. At Home opened 16 units in 2021.

A new program was announced with Ty Pennington earlier this year. The Ty Pennington line is At Home’s fourth celebrity designer collaboration. Other collections feature HGTV star Grace Mitchell, London fashion designer Tracey Boyd and fitness and wellness advocate Laila Ali.

Georgia Furniture Mart

Georgia Furniture Mart is a family-owned business, founded in 1986. It offers low to upper-middle priced lines at its 85,500-square-foot store that serves the Atlanta market. Key vendors include Ashley, Albany, Elements, Homelegance and Parker House.

Its average sales per square foot is $484 and its average gross margin is 46%. Georgia Furniture Mart sells online and Internet sales accounted for about 4% of sales in 2020. It recorded an estimated $41.4 million in 2020 from a single showroom.

Earlier this year, GFM opened a 40,000-square-foot showroom in Kennesaw, Ga., part of the greater Atlanta metro area. The new showroom will provide hundreds of home furnishing products, including sofas, recliners, dining, bedroom, outdoor, home office, mattresses, accessories and more.

The unique store concept utilizes vertical merchandising where GFM can showcase a greater offering of different types of furniture in a variety of fabrics, leathers and colors to give the customer an in-store visual example of what they will be buying.

The Great American Home Store

A family-owned business, founded in 2003, The Great American Homestore offers lower middle to upper-middle priced lines at three units in the Memphis, Tenn., area and two in Southaven, Miss. The company operates three 12,500-square-foot outlet stores in these markets; main stores are 55,000 square feet.

In addition to its in-store Bassett gallery, key vendors include Corinthian, Englander, Tempur-Pedic, Elements, Vintage, Liberty, Cheers, Franklin and Jofran. Its average sales per square foot is $276, and on average, retail stock turns 4.5 times per year.

Great American Home Store sells online with Internet sales accounting for about 1% of business in 2020. In 2020, Great American Home Store’s sales totaled an estimated $42 million across five units.

Ramping up its e-commerce presence during the pandemic helped the five-store chain, to increase online sales by 1,200%. The retailer worked with tech companies such as Perq and LeadsRx to update their machine learning capabilities to better communicate with potential customers.

Justin Bowen, digital manager, said the company created a single inbox to route all email, chat, text, Facebook messenger and website inquiries to one designated location. The retailer also hired specific support agents for online inquiries and trained them to be as knowledgeable as possible to work with customer questions and requests and then pass them off to the correct salesperson.

Casper Sleep

A privately held company, founded in 2014, Casper offers more than 40 sleep products including mattresses, furniture and bedding designed in-house by Casper Labs. At year-end, Casper owned and operated 66 Sleep Shops: 60 units in 24 U.S. states and six in Canada. Its stores average 3,000 square feet.

Casper also offers its product through furniture, department store and mass market retailers and sells its products online. New partnerships for 2020 included Sam’s Club, Macy’s, Mathis Brothers and Nordstrom. Estimated 2020 sales of furniture, bedding and accessories totaled $320 million across 66 stores.

On Jan. 25, Casper Sleep Inc. announced that its all-cash acquisition by Durational Capital Management LP has been completed. The acquisition was previously announced on Nov. 15, 2021. Under the terms of the merger agreement, Casper stockholders received $6.90 per share in cash. In connection with the completion of the transaction, Casper common stock ceased trading and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

Top 100 honorees – Going Green

Room & Board

Sustainability is a keystone for Top 100 retailer Room & Board. According to the Minneapolis-based retailer’s responsible wood sourcing policy, it seeks out local wood for many of its products and prefers to buy from sources that carry Forest Stewardship Council, Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc. and Sustainable Forestry Initiative certifications.

Its sustainable efforts go beyond product. Room & Board rehabs its older buildings, uses LED lighting and landscaping with native plants to reduce its environmental impact.

Deliveries are scheduled geographically to reach consumers faster, and many hybrid delivery trucks are part of its fleet. During delivery, Room & Board’s packaging is removed and recycled or disposed of properly.

In March, Room & Board hired Emily McGarvey as its director of sustainability. She brings 20 years of experience spearheading social and environmental strategies with a focus on product, supply chain, operations and branding. In this role, McGarvey is taking the lead on implementing environmentally sound strategies that advance Room & Board’s mission of delivering built-to-last furniture through sustainable practices that prioritize American craftsmanship.

See also: Furniture Today’s 2022 Top 100 Celebration