By Allison Zisko
More than two decades after exiting the home business, Lord & Taylor has decided that home is where its customer’s heart is.
The department store last month unveiled a new 21,000-square-foot home department on the ninth floor of its flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue, part of a massive store-wide renovation that reportedly cost between $20 and $25 million.
The department store chain decided to re-enter the home business based on what it perceived to be a void in its business, said Barbara Zinn-Moore, general merchandise manager. The store had carried only a small assortment of tabletop gift items in recent years. “We saw it as a big opportunity for the future to go back into [the home] business,” she told HFN.
Lord & Taylor’s new approach to home differs from its past with an almost exclusive use of the shop concept and its presentation within a lifestyle environment. Lauren Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, two of Lord & Taylor’s strongest brands, account for the majority of floor space. Lauren Ralph Lauren occupies 45 percent of the floor with its shop-within-a-shop that offers furniture, bedding, bath, tabletop, gifts and lighting. Calvin Klein’s lifestyle shop, which marks the debut of the brand’s fully dedicated lifestyle space in New York City, takes up 30 percent of the floor; its offerings span furniture, bed and bath, down, rugs and tabletop and giftware. The remaining floor space is devoted to the retailer’s gourmet food offerings (primarily chocolate) and seasonal merchandise. During the fall, the trim-a-home shop will share space on the ninth floor.
There are currently no plans to carry other home furnishings vendors, Zinn-Moore said. Lauren Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein are important names to the people who shop Lord & Taylor, according to Zinn-Moore. They are strong brands across every category, “so home seemed a natural fit for our customers. The product and price points are exactly what we think our customers are looking for.”
“Calvin Klein home is a business with strong growth potential for our brand and we are pleased to join forces with Lord & Taylor and be a part of their re-entry into the home arena,” said Tom Murry, president and chief executive officer of Calvin Klein, Inc. “The new Calvin Klein lifestyle home shop within Lord & Taylor gives us a beautiful platform to communicate our complete lifestyle vision to our consumer.”
Calvin Klein’s shop will feature the latest introductions in its furniture line, which the company describes as “inspired by urban living with unique designer details, generously proportioned to scale with bold clean lines and soft edges.”
Lord & Taylor’s home floor will have 19 Lauren Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein display beds and six fully set tables featuring dinnerware, stemware, flatware and placemats. The floor will be “heavily” staffed with employees well-versed in home and gifts, and associates are attending “immersion training” in both brands, according to Lord & Taylor.
The department is presented in a lifestyle format in which all the categories are shown together as they would in a real home. There are no individual fixtures for sheets and towels, or walls of china. This merchandising strategy, Zinn-Moore said, helps differentiate Lord & Taylor from other department stores. “In one location we’re selling all facets of home in one place,” she said. “We think it’s easier for our customers to shop.”
Bentley Hardwick, vice president, managing director Calvin Klein Home, said Lord & Taylor’s approach helps cement the Calvin Klein outlook. “We’ve always been a big proponent of sharing Calvin Klein in a lifestyle format,” she said. “It makes it exciting and appealing to consumers.”
Lord & Taylor is selling the same home goods featured in its store on its website and has plans to expand the home concept to a few other stores in the spring, according to Zinn-Moore. It will evaluate the program to determine its roll-out strategy, she added.
It’s too early to say how much money the home store will generate for Lord & Taylor, but Zinn-Moore believes it has significant potential. “The customer votes at the end of the day,” she said. “She will determine how big the business will be. We’re optimistic that it’s a nice opportunity for us.”