Michelle Hespe catches up with the manager of Jumbo — a Turkish retail chain specializing in kitchenware and cookware that was chosen as one of five Global Honorees at the 2015 IHA Global Innovation Awards (gia).
Function has always been crucial when it comes to cookware and dinnerware, but today, form and function are more tightly entwined than ever, with products designed to be easily used and displayed. Kitchens are no longer hidden away at the back of the house with the cook out of sight — now they are at the center of everything. Restaurants are also following that trend – with the kitchen being in the center of the establishment with everything on display to be admired.
What an ideal time then for Jumbo — a Turkish retail chain featuring kitchenware and dinnerware — to be in the spotlight and on the road to further expansion. Since 1947, the store has had a focus on products in the culinary sphere, but now they are a true success story, with 44 stores under their belt by the end of 2015.
Jumbo’s business strategy and approach to design was recognized internationally in March 2015, when it scooped one of the most coveted retail awards in the world — a Global Innovation Award (gia) from the International Housewares Association in Chicago.
“We aim to contribute to dining culture by providing timeless designs with ergonomic, aesthetic and premium quality products that fulfill a customer’s need for easy usage and functionality,” says Ayşe Demirtepe, the business’ Category Manager from Istanbul. “And we aim to strengthen our industry-leading company position with our unique product range including cutlery, porcelain, glassware, cookware and accessories. Based on our strong past experience enriched with global awards and our innovative approach, we are establishing the Jumbo brand as a benchmark of quality design and innovation.”
This solid and simple aim has meant that Jumbo has never wavered from its original philosophy, and in turn that has meant that the business has steadily gone from strength to strength, growing as the need for its products and approach to design has increased.
“The original idea of the Jumbo stores was welcoming consumers into a refined, premium environment that fits our brand identity and product range,” explains Demirtepe. “Highlighting the premium quality and design features of products is always the main purpose, and all parameters from lightning to furniture and visual elements are selected accordingly to align with this. And our refined, clean product display was the main differentiation setting us apart from competitors in the Turkish market, where generally, a crowded product display is preferred.”
Anyone who has visited Turkey and checked out the country’s more common, traditional retail stores, will understand how different the streamlined, clutter-free approach that Jumbo has adopted is, as a typical store in Turkey is often more like a bazaar – with products sitting, hanging and covering every possible surface.
The process for entering gia was a straightforward one for Jumbo, as they were already in the throes of analyzing everything about the business for the launch of new stores. “Besides winning gia, our aim was to create the best possible store layout and visual merchandising approach to perfectly represent our brand,” says Demirtepe. “We were sure that we did that very well when our first store opened, but then winning this international award proved to us that we were indeed going on right direction, so now we are sticking to it.”
The physical award, and the publicity that gia grants its winners is something that Demirtepe really appreciates, but it was also the experience of being in Chicago and attending the International Home + Housewares Show and the various gia events there that has been good for the business. “It was a great opportunity for me to meet retailers from around the world, and to be informed about their business and best practices. Seeing new designs and trends at the Show and attending retail presentations by the gia experts were also very inspiring. I learned a great deal and really enjoyed the entire gia experience.”
Part of the experience was the excitement generated by Jumbo’s win at the gia awards gala — which is a glamorous affair considered by many as the Oscars® of retailing — and the media that soon followed the announcement. After accepting the award on stage to much fanfare, and after the news really sunk in that they had just been voted one of the top five home and housewares retailers in the world, Jumbo’s team sprung straight into action to spread word of their accomplishment.
Demirtepe remains humble, acknowledging the people that she works with as being the root of the company’s success. “Working with right partners and a great team who share your passion is definitely the key to success,” she says. “You have to follow changing consumer behaviors in the retail business — new trends, new designs, new marketing ideas and business approaches. It keeps you dynamic.”
And as for advice to other retailers considering entering gia, these Turkish words of wisdom are as streamlined as Jumbo’s direction and its presentation of wares: “Define exactly who you are as a company. Make the differentiation from your competitors obvious, and then carefully gather all elements that will perfectly convey your message to consumers. And always be brave.”
For more information about the gia (IHA Global Innovation Awards) program, the co-sponsors, or participating in 2015-2016, contact Piritta Törrö at email@example.com. Additional information on the IHA’s gia Awards program is also available online at www.housewares.org/gia.
For more information about the International Home + Housewares Show and to pre-register for the 2016 Show, taking place in Chicago on March 5-8, 2016, please visit www.housewares.org.