Leen Bakker’s stable sales revenues in 2014 are to be credited mainly to the all-new format, the introduction of the new branding in all stores, national radio and TV advertising campaigns and the distribution of a special promotional leaflet.
CLOSE TO THE CUSTOMER WITH CONTEMPORARY FORMATS
Leen Bakker turned its attention in the past few years to changing its brand image, which has resulted in a complete visual transformation of the retail format. During the year under review, the retailer converted existing stores into pilot stores: pleasant, well-organised and welcoming retail spaces that do a better job of meeting customers’ needs. The retailer’s signature colours blue, red and grey have been replaced with fuchsia. In response to customer surveys, which revealed that customers have a strong need for detailed product information, Leen Bakker set up a content team that is responsible for enhancing the webshop and physical stores with product information. In addition, the sales staff has attended specialised training courses to improve their product knowledge. Customer surveys have also revealed that the first new-style Leen Bakker pilot stores have improved Leen Bakker’s image. The core values of ‘competitively priced’, ‘contemporary’ and ‘original’ still shine through in the new stores while the retailer has, at the same time, managed to strengthen its competitive advantage in the home furnishings market. Five more stores are scheduled to be opened in 2015. Outdoor advertising will also be changed for all stores in the Netherlands in the current year.
In order to boost sales in its Large Furniture section, Leen Bakker commissioned a team of creative young designers to create a new line called UMIX: these are sofas which customers can design based on their own specifications. The ‘Stock’ line of cabinets and Leen Bakker’s own range of garden furniture, ‘Le Sud’, are based on the same concept.
The sales reports issued periodically by the Finance and IT departments, which contain sales breakdowns per store, have shown that not all Leen Bakker stores contribute to the company’s profit. This indicates that further investments will need to be made in the quality of the sales team and in other strategies to attract larger numbers of customers to the stores. Any stores that continue to consistently operate at a loss despite these efforts can be permanently closed.
The sales growth in the webshops has resulted in an increase in the number of home deliveries. A large number of orders are delivered to customers’ homes by third-party providers. The logistics organisation needs all its resource capacity to handle the growing volume of deliveries. The technical installation of one of the bulk warehouses was fully renovated during the year under review. Since the flow of incoming goods varies significantly depending on the circumstances, staff at the stores work on a flexible basis.
Leen Bakker is committed to sustainability and is taking measures in this area with regard to the sale of FSC-certified wood and reducing carbon emissions. It also fully upgraded its fleet of trucks in 2014. All platforms of the trucks now bear the new logo. The new trucks comply with all applicable carbon emission standards and have received the ‘Lean and Green’ label for their energy-efficiency.
OPEN AND COMMITTED TEAMS
All employees at the head office, along with the store managers and team leaders of the distribution centre, participated in the Employee Engagement Survey in 2014. The results of the survey were shared across the organisation as a whole and as this year unfolds it will be clear how much progress these teams have made.
A total of 14 employees successfully completed specialised retail sales training in 2014. The Format Development department, which was established in spring 2015, will provide support in updating and developing the product range, in combination with aisle management services.
LEEN BAKKER BELGIUM AND LUXEMBOURG
Due to a variety of factors, including sustained lower sales in garden furniture, sales revenues at the Belgian stores remained marginally below the 2013 level. This group has a significant share in the sales revenues as a whole. By focusing more on staff’s sales knowledge, the retailer did manage to significantly increase its conversion rates in 2014.
Sales revenues of Leen Bakker’s webshop increased by 23% in 2014, although the total share in the revenue of the online business remains relatively low. Customers continue to collect their online orders from the stores. Leen Bakker is expected to enter into a partnership with a courier company in 2015. Supported by Nextail and a home delivery service, sales revenues from the webshop in Belgium should be able to further increase. A new store was opened in the Belgian town of Saint-Georges-sur-Meuse, designed in the new Leen Bakker style.
LEEN BAKKER CURAÇAO
The Building Depot megastore, a Leen Bakker franchisee, opened its doors in November 2014 – exactly eighteen months after the building was destroyed by fire. In 2014, Building Depot managed to attract more than 100,000 visitors to the store in less than six weeks.
The Leen Bakker shop-in-shop inside the Building Depot megastore is designed based on the new retail format. This same style was used for the store as a whole, which has 14,000 square metres of floor space and is Curaçao’s largest megastore. Building Depot has managed to successfully re-establish itself with a significantly upgraded modern store, while keeping the existing slogan: ‘Djis Pens’e…Nos Tin E
(Need something? We’ve got it!).
ACTIVITIES AND OUTLOOK FOR 2015
Backed by an ambitious sales and marketing plan, Leen Bakker expects to increase overall sales revenues at both its Dutch and Belgian stores in 2015. In spring 2015, Leen Bakker and Blokker began selling a white-label range of garden furniture under the name ‘Le Sud’. A radio and TV advertising campaign supported the launch of the brand.
Leen Bakker is currently running a pilot project at five stores involving the use of tablets for sales staff. By the end of this year, sales assistants should be able to have easy access to all the information they need in the stores. Customers should also be able to use these tablets to order items. Leen Bakker will furthermore be installing online kiosks in the stores on which customers can view the product range and place orders.
The Leen Bakker webshop will be integrated into the Nextail web platform this year, creating major opportunities for growth in online sales. Supported by the webshop and Nextail, Leen Bakker is gradually evolving into an omnichannel home furnishings retailer.
The growing number of brands and a more coherent product range have resulted in a boost in sales. In-store training has helped improve the level of service provided to customers. Another customer satisfaction survey will be conducted this year to gauge customers’ opinions of Leen Bakker.
The remodelling of the stores is an investment priority for the coming years. Three stores were already successfully converted based on the new format in 2014, followed by five more stores in 2015. The outdoor advertising will be adapted at all stores across the Netherlands.
Leen Bakker’s exclusive UMIX range.