In the second half of this morning’s session, Lucio Bernal, Home Sentry’s General Manager, shared the story of this Colombian retailer and its growth from being hardware focused into a more full-line home products retailer. Free standing stores are approximately 30,000 square feet, and shopping mall stores are approximately 10,000 square feet. Home Sentry is transferring emphasis to multi-level store formats due to the rising cost of real estate.
Promoting themselves as a Colombian home business, Home Sentry sends out 450,000 brochures every 15 days, strategically targeted to reach consumers in appropriate neighborhoods. An additional 100,000 brochures are inserted in newspapers. Customers look forward to the annual Christmas and anniversary sales, which are the most productive selling times.
Home Sentry’s buyers track global sales trends and visit trade shows to meet directly with suppliers. Buyers work with an open-to-buy budget and use an evaluation system that includes assessment of quality, innovation, gross margin and price vs. perceived value. Exclusive products and win-win, long term relationships with suppliers are preferred business practices. Home Sentry buyers seek out U.S. products due to their quality. A key part of their company mission is the care of the employees as well as their customers. Their Vision: “To surprise the one who loves better living.”
Following Mr. Bernal, the group heard from Michael Cohen of Doit Center, a Panamanian chain, which was established in 1990. Although their main focus is hardware, they have grown into other home focused categories. Mr. Cohen is a third-generation member of this owner-operated company.
Doit Center is the largest regional home center chain with 1,600 team members. Their current store prototype averages 30,000 sq. feet with about one third of the space dedicated to housewares.
Other key points from the presentation include:
– Suppliers can take advantage of the USA/Panama Free Trade agreement.
– Doit Center expects a 25% growth for 2013.
– Doit Center prefers to work directly with product suppliers rather than through distributors.