Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.,the one-stop home furniture and furnishings colossus, has 70 years to its name of proving “furniture can be made a better way.” The management behind it say: “We may be family owned, but there’s no mistaking whom we ultimately answer to. Our goal is to earn your business with an exceptional shopping experience, knowledgeable sales associates and dedicated customer care.”
Behind that promise is a combination of formidable operations and infrastructure. Its corporate offices are located in Arcadia, Wisconsin and retail headquarters in Tampa, Florida, while its manufacturing and distribution centers occupy 1.61 million sqm under roof worldwide. It has 13 strategically placed facilities in the US and six facilities in Asia, with 850 Ashley Homestores, 340 of which are outside of the US. It was in the mid-1990s that Ashley begun selling internationally.
It also maintains sourcing offices throughout Asia, allowing Ashley to work closely with key suppliers. This impressive set up helps generate over 90,000 containers that are shipped to 155 countries around the world. The annual turnover for all this activity is reported to be in excess of US$5 billion, and the company has ambitious plans to increase further its presence in areas away from the US mainland.
Some 27,000 people work directly or indirectly for the company.
Keeping several steps ahead of changing market preferences, say Ashley executives, led by Charles Sprang, president of International Sales, is what keeps the company relevant to its customers and top of mind when nesters need something for their personal spaces. “An ability to predict and adapt” has been key to survival and longetivity. Since target markets vary in aesthetic and budgetary tastes, segments and sizes, no two stores are exactly alike in their inventory.
“The company operates from a strategy of continuous improvement and operational excellence (meaning it knows the business). By doing so, Ashley has not only survived, but thrived in markets around the world and continues to develop the Ashley brand globally through retailers including Ashley Furniture HomeStores. Through retailers and HomeStores, the company delivers quality home furnishings and accessories at an affordable price,” say executives.
The entities Ashley specifically serves mass merchants/big box retailers, on-line retailers, rental retailers and Ashley Furniture HomeStores among others. The company spokesperson says: “We attract customers through region tradeshows including High Point (15,000 sq m), Las Vegas (10,000 sq m) and those that take place in Guangzhou, Pudong in Shanghai, Istanbul and Guadalajara, Mexico. Additionally, we have a great team of sales representatives around the world to work closely with the retailers to ensure their success.”
Ashley’s gallery of product lines is extensive and covers every conceivable part of any home. This is offered not only to the domestic market in the US, but also to the overseas market, addressing categories such as the living room, dining room, bedroom, children’s rooms, corridors, home office and outdoor areas. Furnishings include all kinds of furniture, mattresses, bedding, home decor, rugs and lighting. Buyers, no matter where they reside, are able to order from either US or Asia outlets.
Asked to highlight key selling points of Ashley product, store executives listed “design, selection, quality, price scale and MOQ of 1.”
- Design – Producing one-of-a-kind designs that reflect current consumer trends.
- Selection – Offering a very wide selection of products.
- Quality – Providing the best quality products in the industry.
- Price – Maintaining affordable prices for customers everywhere.
- Scale – Working constantly to be the world’s largest furniture manufacturer.
- MOQ of 1 – Making possible opportunities for retail customers to mix SKUs in one container with no minimum quantity.
In addition, Ashley wows clients with constant service support that is readily available via an on-line intranet site that provides them with the status of inventory, product information, images and marketing material. The company may be growing bigger, but no matter where a retailer/ Homestore is located, it’s still one Ashley and will always remain so.
Eager to grasp the business bull by the horns, Ashley’s goal for the next five to 10 years is simple and clear – grow the number of retailers and in-house branded retail shops Ashley HomeStores across the world. So, expect to see more of its mandarin orange roof logo in regions such as the Asia-Pacific and China.
To help make that leap forward, Ashley intends to invest in and work with technology, rather see it as a threat – particularly from all aspects such as digital robotics and IOT combined with BI (Business Intelligence) and AI (Artificial Intelligence) technologies – to its operations and over-all way of managing the business. It vows to embrace new learnings and make them work for the company.