Winning Appliances spares no expense to unseat top-tier rivals

Family-owned business Winning Appliances has spared no expense in the construction and design of its new showroom in Chadstone Shopping Centre, which officially opened last Thursday after a soft launch in December.

The 600sqm space features three bespoke, built-in kitchens showcasing different lifestyles, a culinary theatre where chefs can prepare food and demonstrate products, chic dining and lounge room furniture courtesy of Coco Republic and timber and copper accents throughout.

The total cost of the fitout came to roughly $5 million, with Winning Appliances kicking in $3 million and suppliers contributing $2 million, according to group CEO John Winning. This equates to more than $8000 per square metre.

“We haven’t spared a cent in making sure this is the best shopping experience possible,” Winning told Inside Retail Weekly at a launch party last week.

The Chadstone showroom is the retailer’s first location in a shopping centre, and thus, is geared towards a different type of customer than the other 16 showrooms it operates.

“It’s a far less qualified customer because there’s traffic that don’t drive to a destination, park and go in with a purpose. That was always something we thought would be an added benefit with this showroom,” Winning said.

More than 1000 customers walked through the showroom on opening day in December, and it has attracted 500 customers on average every day since. That is more than twice the average daily traffic at the retailer’s flagship showroom in Redfern, Sydney according to Winning.

This has forced the retailer to adjust its high-touch approach to customer service, which is a core part of its brand and how it differentiates itself from the major players in the market, such as Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi’s The Good Guys.

“We’re learning how to deliver that Winning experience to a lot more people. It’s a work in progress,” Winning said.

The prominent location of the new showroom also reflects Winning Group’s big ambitions for growth. Winning Group operates the Winning Appliances, Appliances Online, Home Clearance, Winning Services and Heelix businesses. Winning Services is the company’s customer service arm, and Heelix is a neuroscience-based app to improve teamwork and employee engagement. The group also publishes Winning, a luxury magazine.

The company recently hired Sven Lindell, formerly of apparel supplier Hotsprings and online furniture giant Temple & Webster, as its first chief marketing officer. And it reported double-digit growth in December 2019 and January 2020, with Winning Appliances achieving its best December on record and Appliances Online, the group’s e-commerce business, breaking its single-day sales record on Boxing Day.

“We’re a growing business, so having record sales days isn’t uncommon,” Winning explained. “The market is still big, and we’re still a very small player – we’re dwarfed by two absolute giants. There’s still a lot of market share to take.”

In recent years, the group has acquired the Perth-based Kitchen HQ business and Michael’s Appliance Centre in Melbourne, but Winning said the company was more focused on taking market share off the likes of Harvey Norman and The Good Guys than buying its way to growth.

“I hope we’re taking customers from everyone, but the big two have the most,” he said.

And investing in luxurious showrooms like the one in Chadstone are part and parcel of its plan to do so.   

“When times are tough, we don’t start cutting headcount and doing things that will be detrimental to the customer experience,

like having fewer people on the showroom floors. We still reinvest,” he said.

The privately held company recorded $478.26 million in revenue for the financial year ended June 30, 2018, according to documents lodged with Australian Securities & Investments Commission.

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