The Brick, Canada’s largest retailer of furniture, appliances, mattresses and electronics, has opened a new 55,000-square-foot flagship store in the West Edmonton Mall with elements of the new concept to be rolled out to other stores across the country.
“Our customers want the best of both worlds — an exceptional and innovative in-store experience, as well as a convenient and always-open online experience,” said Dave Freeman, President of The Brick. “Our new, bigger store in West Edmonton Mall uses technology to bridge the gap between digital and in-person shopping, giving customers everything they expect from one of Canada’s leading retailers.”
The company said the new space carries 8,600 individual pieces displayed in inspirational room settings that focus on modern urban living. It features large screen digital displays where customers can browse even more inventory and visualize their own Designed2B custom furniture configurations. Each member of the sales team also carries a tablet. In addition to looking up information and completing transactions, they also use them to help customers see their Designed2B creations in augmented reality, said the company.
“We’ve also got electronic price tags we’re using in our appliance and electronics department today in that store. What’s great about that it allows us to immediately move corporately on pricing. So if we need to change pricing we can do it right from the office here if we’re reacting to competition or even just providing better value for our customers. We can do it from here.”
Freeman said The Brick has been in the mall for about 34 years. A few years ago, it moved locations and increased its size in the mall.
“When the opportunity for the Sears building came along, we worked out a good compromise with the mall to move to a standalone that gave us parking and immediate mall access and we got to be a bit bigger footprint as well,” he said.
“It’s a brand-new layout for us. We have a lot more space. It’s more shopable for our customers. Lots of opportunity for the product to breathe and really let the product be the hero. So we’re happy with that. From a frequency of visit perspective, we’ve got a lot more accents and accessories and we’ve got new processes in place that make that frictionless for our customers buying that kind of product for less. We think that will really benefit us from a repeat customer perspective. Of course, we’ve got our online offering but this complements that with that type of product too where customers can come in and take most of it with them right at the time of purchase.”
Freeman said the iPad use by staff and electronic pricing are a test for the company but “as we move along in due course we’ll just convert the majority of our stores to that over time.”
“The other thing two things we’re excited about part of the Design2B configuration we’re speaking of is an augmented reality version to it and then we’re working on VR (virtual reality) as well which will come along fairly shortly. It’s a convergence of what does that online experience look like, can I start to shop at home on my laptop or on my mobile device and then walk into the store and get the same look and feel,” he said.
“As the success grows with those things as we transition new stores, or renovate new stores, or open new stores, they’ll all come with most of these elements.”
The company has 214 stores in The Brick group – 181 are full line Brick stores which are a combination of corporate and franchise stores; 24 standalone Brick Mattress stores; and nine outlet stores.
“We’ve got a number of distribution centres right across the country from Vancouver and we currently stop in Montreal but we’re going to be opening a new distribution centre in Halifax probably 15-18 months out and that will springboard us in. We’ve got stores today – corporate and franchise stores – in the Maritimes but this will springboard us to the next level. There’s two or three deals that are signed and a couple in the works for out East,” said Freeman.
“We’re always looking for franchise opportunities, infills, second stores in markets as markets grow. We think we’re covered pretty good right across every province but as we work through Quebec and the Maritimes – even out in Ontario we’re still looking for either franchise or corporate opportunities all the time. We’re in growth.”
Freeman said while the company has put in a large format flagship store in Edmonton it also still believes in smaller format stores like it has on Yonge Street in Toronto and on Granville Street in Vancouver which are in the 6,000 to 7,000 square-foot range. Expansion of this format could move into several major markets in Canada.
In the flagship store, there is also the Charity Corner, which sees a section of The Brick’s new location dedicated to supporting the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation. This comes in addition to The Brick donating $1.5 million to the Children’s Miracle Network in 2018.
“Since 1985, West Edmonton Mall has had a successful relationship with The Brick as part of the opening of phase three of the mall. West Edmonton Mall and The Brick share common goals to continue being the best in class — for the mall as a shopping and entertainment destination and for The Brick as the gold standard for the sale of furniture in Canada,” said David Ghermezian, CEO, West Edmonton Mall.
“The Brick’s West Edmonton Mall location expanding to flagship status at the highest profile of the complex is common to both of our goals to deliver the ultimate shopping experience for our more than 30 million annual visitors. We look forward to at least another 35 years of growth and success together.”
The Brick opened in 1971 and today has more than 5,000 employees across Canada.