Hardware Retailing

SEP 2017

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | September 2017 100 O ne really wonderful aspect of NRHA is that our executive leadership team is connected to the home improvement industry on an international level. While in Europe, I was able to connect with a few of NRHA's friends to learn about what the industry is like on the other side of the pond. In January, I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, and Aix-en-Provence, France, to meet with store owners and industry professionals. Innovative Thinking at Quincaillerie Aixoise What does it take to be the largest, most successful retailer in Southern France? I visited Quincaillerie Aixoise to find out. Quincaillerie Aixoise is a multistore operation headquartered in Aix-en-Provence, France, with five locations in Aix-en-Provence and the surrounding cities. The company's primary clientele are professionals, with the occasional walk-in DIY customer. Owner and CEO Jean-Francois Dubost has grown the company from a one-store to a five-store operation and has achieved great success in his 20 years in the business. In that time, he's also increased total sales from approximately $7 million to more than $36 million. He keeps his business ahead of the curve with his creativity, leadership and eye for business opportunities. I toured four Quincaillerie Aixoise locations during my visit and saw elements in each that stood out as contributors to the company's success. Well-Executed Store-Within-a-Store Concept Inside the main 53,000-square-foot store, customers shopping for new drawer knobs, a drill and work boots will have a completely unique experience in each department. Dubost has made it a point to give several departments within the store a defined space with a unique store-within-a-store concept. Customers may feel as if they're in a jewelry store while picking out a new door handle. As they walk into the next section of the store, they find several spaces dedicated to different power and hand tool brands. Look further, and they find themselves in what feels like a clothing and shoe boutique, complete with dressing rooms. The neat aspect about the store-within-a-store concept at Quincaillerie Aixose is that it makes wandering through the business fun for customers. Instead of walking down a few aisles to find the next item on the list, customers walk through a series of differently designed and merchandised rooms throughout their shopping experience. Is there a way you could improve customers' experiences through new merchandising or layout improvements? Filling a Hole in the Market With Textiles In addition to offering the main categories available in most hardware stores, Dubost recently started offering a unique niche: textiles. Dubost worked with several clients in the restaurant and health care industries and realized that he could become their main supplier for uniforms and workwear in addition to providing them with their hardware and building materials. He quickly became the No. 1 seller of textiles in the area and continues to hold that distinction. The operation offers a range of technical services to building professionals and local petrochemical and steel companies. Additionally, Dubost sells textiles to health care clients including hospitals, clinics and doctors' and dentists' offices. Other clients include hotels, restaurants and chefs. How do you fulfill your customers' unique needs? To read the continuation of this post and see photos, visit TheRedT.com/france. Store Visits in Europe: Takeaways From Leading Hardware Retailers Aix-en-Provence, France

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