HIGH POINT — Hooker Furnishings’ announcement that it would leave its long-time showroom in High Point’s International Home Furnishings Center building here to take over the entire third floor of nearby Showplace beginning in April 2023 represents a continuation of the strategy that last year saw the company replace the “Furniture” in its name in favor of “Furnishings” and earlier this year saw its first showroom at the Las Vegas Market’s Design Center.
In an exclusive interview with Furniture Today, Hooker CEO Jeremy Hoff said the company would spend “seven figures” to redo the new home of Hooker’s legacy brands, which will also feature space for its recently acquired Sunset West outdoor furniture that will be highlighted on the new showroom’s building-length terrace.
“While that wasn’t why we made the acquisition, I was thinking that if we’re going to have a showroom with such outstanding display space for outdoor furniture it really should be ours,” Hoff told Furniture Today.
The company’s HMI Group will remain in its current 220 Elm location, which will be getting complete refresh for the upcoming October High Point Market.
Hoff explained that the relocation to Showplace, along with the pending launch of two new brands in the coming year, needs to be understood in the context of the company’s longer term strategy, which is to create a “house of brands,” each with a distinct identity and reason for being.
“The reason this is important is that it helps us stay on track where we’re supporting each brand’s individual identity and maintaining the appropriate value equation,” he said. “If this (the current and future brands) was all one, it would not address the unique needs of each of our customer segments and give us the appropriate alignment around a strategic vision.”
Hoff noted that the origin of the current strategic vision dates back to 2017.
“At that time, we had a bit of a problem in that things looked too much alike. We were not happy with the merchandising direction,” he explained. “Since then, we’ve tried to refresh the experience and are much more focused on our individual brands from a lifestyle perspective and how each one addresses that.”
Hooker also had become very much “a collection company,” which, while successful, allowed some of its key sub-segments such as accents, entertainment and home office to become more collection-centric than aligned with the often eclectic way that consumers decorate their homes today.
The company also gained insights into the role that location plays in showcasing Hooker Furnishings to new audiences at High Point Market following its use of a smaller temporary space in IHFC’s Interhall, a juried and fashion-forward area that’s become a hotspot for interior designers.
Hoff noted that Hooker’s Interhall outpost actually introduced the company’s offerings to a new audience, who while familiar with the brand may not have understood the diversity and breadth of its assortment.
By relocating to Showplace, with its unique silhouette and design-centric exhibitor base, Hooker will remain a readily accessible destination for its established customers while also introducing its brands to a new audience.
“Showplace allows us to look like we feel, really forward looking,” Hoff said.
The ability to broaden its connection to the interior design community likewise played a role in Hooker’s decision to open its first showroom at the Las Vegas Market earlier this year. Located in the Building A Las Vegas Design Center, a collection of upscale exhibitors with a strong fashion focus and appeal to the unique needs of interior designers, the newest Hooker showroom already is paying dividends.
“What we noticed is that 85% of the 1,468 customers we saw were companies that were not current Hooker customers,” Hoff said.
With April 2023 kicking off a 10-year commitment to the new Showplace showroom, Hooker is planning a refreshed merchandising approach that will place a premium “on the experience,” Hoff noted, adding that inaugural event will not be solely about product but will encompass some as-yet-undisclosed events and activities that will building toward Hooker’s 100-year anniversary in 2024.