People to Watch in 2016:
Gary Friedman

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 10th Annual “Players,” 20 people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent 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 Players 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.

Player’s CredentialsAfter a brief hiatus from RH (Restoration Hardware) in 2013, Gary Friedman again took the helm at the company, which describes itself as a curator of design, taste and style in the luxury lifestyle market. Since that time, as RH’s chairman and CEO, Friedman has infused the company with his vision and unique philosophy on what he believes will excite consumers in today’s modern world. 

Friedman has envisioned a luxury shopping experience, executing a plan to replace all of RH’s former stores with large-scale “Gallery” concepts. Essentially a move that is meant to reinvent the brand, this bold retail strategy seems to be typical of Friedman. During his many years in executive roles at Williams-Sonoma, he is said to have successfully introduced the working kitchen concept into that chain’s stores.

What To Watch: RH has experienced steady growth over the last five years, with $1.8 billion in revenues last year. “While still in the early stages of building RH into the leading home brand for the luxury customer, we are well on track towards our long-term goal of $4 billion to $5 billion in North American sales,” said Friedman.

Along with its mission to reinvent its former stores into the next generation of luxury galleries, RH has been introducing new home merchandise categories, including RH Kitchen and Tableware, which will focus on appliances, cookware, kitchen tools and food. Housewares should benefit as a result of the retailer’s increased home goods focus. 

In addition to the new housewares lines, the RH Modern furniture and lighting collection will debut this fall. The company described it as a curated collection that combines clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. On the expansion into new categories, Friedman has said that it “demonstrates our belief that we can curate a lifestyle well beyond the four walls of the home.”  

Perspective: Friedman has an intense passion and particular vision for RH and its future growth prospects. “This is not a lifestyle,” he has said in describing the RH brand. “It is a lovestyle.”