Lee Bird, At Home

lee_bird_athomeThe August 19 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 14th annual “People To Watch” in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, “People To Watch” represents a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld “People To Watch” are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Lee Bird, At Home, Chairman & CEO

CREDENTIALS: Lee Bird joined At Home about seven years ago and led the company from its incarnation as Garden Ridge into a more home decor-oriented retail concept focused closely on shopper preferences as they exist and evolve. Bird was managing director of The Gores Group, a global private equity firm, before joining what had been Garden Ridge and emerged as At Home. In his career, he also has served as president of Nike Affiliates, part of Nike Inc., Gap COO and Old Navy CFO, as well as vp/finance and operations for Gateway, senior director of corporate finance for AlliedSignal and director of finance and business management at AlliedSignal Engines.

WHAT TO WATCH: Although the acquisitions rooters have focused on At Home, with Kohl’s the rumor mill’s favorite to snap up the retailer, the company continues to execute on its growth initiatives, which includes a 32-net gain in stores during the current fiscal year. At Home hit what might be a speed bump in the first quarter, blaming lower comparable sales on unseasonable weather, after posting strong financials in the past fiscal year. However, it did experience some fourth quarter softening, too.

“We are focused on delivering on both our near and longer term goals as we expand the At Home brand toward its full potential,” Bird told HomeWorld Business. “We remain committed to our proven playbook, the strategic priorities that have driven our success to date and demonstrating the continued strength of our highly differentiated, value-focused model. As an everyday low price retailer, we will continue to elevate the customer experience and deliver the great value our customers expect of us.”

PERSPECTIVE: At Home has developed a unique approach to the home furnishings space, using big stores to go deep in specific categories and establish itself as a destination in those product segments. It doesn’t clutter markets with locations. It counts on its breath and diversity of product in focus categories to draw customers from relatively long distances. And, if the stores don’t exactly have endless aisles, At Home offers enough items in each category to give shoppers confidence that a journey to the store won’t leave them returning home empty handed.

2020 HomeWorld Business People To Watch (click on name for profile):

Rich Krause, Capital Brands

Jill Soltau, J.C. Penney

Marcelo Borges, Tramontina USA

Ross Patterson, Robinson Home

Dave Albert, Spectrum Brands

Christopher Banning, Meyer Corp. U.S.

Kris Malkoski, Arc Americas

Bryan Welsh, SodaStream U.S.

Todd Wanek, Ashley Furniture

Mike Otterman, Lodge

Mike Bauer, Libbey

Corie Barry, Best Buy

Lee Bird, At Home

Ryan Ross, Williams Sonoma

Mark Eichhorn, The Oneida Group

Ravi Saligram, Newell Brands

Derek Miller, International Housewares Association

Arthur Zambelli, Bradshaw Home

Mads Ryder, Lenox Corp.

Jay Jordan, Home Meridian