RH Gallery (Restoration Hardware), Boston
RH (formerly called Restoration Hardware) continues its transformation from a hardware retailer to a lifestyle brand at its stunning Gallery store in Boston. The 37,670-sq.-ft. space, which took top honors in the 2014. A.R.E. Design Awards competition, is located in a landmark building in the heart of the city’s Back Bay.
Originally the home of the Museum of Natural History, the building, designed in 1862, has been carefully restored, on both the exterior and interior, to its former glory, and reimagined consistent with its original vision as a museum. Decades of structural modifications were stripped away and original details reinstated, putting the focus on the dramatic architecture.
Entering the space, a three-story central atrium is anchored by a custom elevator with a steel-caged glass-cab. Artistic vignettes of RH furniture, accented with found objects, create a gallery-like experience throughout the store. From the fresh floral bouquets in the atrium to the 18-ft. antiqued mirrored archways reflecting 12 sparkling crystal chandeliers reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles on level two, the space is filled with artistic installations that give customers home-design inspiration. Level three features an indoor conservatory and park with reproduction heritage olive trees, a 24-ft. illuminated steel Eiffel Tower, and a wine bar. All are housed under the restored original vaulted and iridescent gold-coffered ceiling.
The third floor is also home to four "Clubrooms," including the Billiards Room, complete with a refurbished vintage Brunswick table, open for play; the Music Room, a tribute to the days of vinyl, rock & roll and Motown, also home to a 100-year-old beer bar salvaged from a local Boston pub; the Library, filled with design and architecture reads; and the Cinema, celebrating the art of film and fame.
The building’s restored subterranean level is home to the first RH Baby & Child Gallery on the East Coast. Punctuated by original, 12-ft. vaulted brick ceilings, the space provides a new and innovative approach to designing and outfitting nurseries and children’s rooms.
The building’s original winder staircase, previously hidden behind walls, has been exposed through dramatic steel and glass archways, winding its way up to the third floor.
Architect/architect of record: Bergmeyer Associates, Boston
Tiffany stays positive following Q4 net loss
Tiffany & Co. reported a net loss of $104 million in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 thanks to a $473 million charge resulting from arbitration with The Swatch Group Dec. 2013.
The company reported net sales for the quarter of $1.3 billion, up 5% from $1.23 billion last year. Same-store sales for the quarter increased 6%.
“We are proud of our performance this past year,” said chairman and CEO Michael J. Kowalski. “Sales growth was led by fine and statement jewelry, new or expanded jewelry collections, and continuing strength in our iconic jewelry designs. Tiffany’s marketing communications more effectively engaged global consumers wherever they shopped, our distribution network was expanded by 14 additional stores, and everywhere the store experience was enhanced by improved visual merchandising.”
During the full fiscal year, net earnings dropped 56% to $181.4 from $416.1 million. Net sales rose 5% to $4 billion from $3.8 billion and same-store sales improved 6%.
During fiscal 2014, Tiffany plans to open 13 new global stores, including five in the Americas, and close four, including one in the Americas. Worldwide net sales are expected to rise by a high single-digit percentage.
IPO better positions Borderfree for digital mission
Borderfree is a digital company focused on helping retailers sell to anyone anywhere and last Friday the company sold itself to investor’s by completing an initial public stock offering.
The company priced its offering of five million shares at $16 and enjoyed a 32% pop at the open when shares began trading at $21. The upward momentum proved to be unsustainable and by the close shares had receded to $20, registering a still respectable first day gain of 25%.
New York City-based company views itself as market leader in international cross-border e-commerce solutions, operating a technology and services platform that enables U.S. retailers to transact with customers in more than 100 countries and territories and more than 60 currencies worldwide. The company manages all aspects of the international shopping experience including such as site localization, multi-currency pricing, payment processing, fraud management, landed cost calculation, customs clearance and brokerage, and global logistics services. And says it does it all while maintaining the integrity of its customers’ brands and the consumer experience.
Borderfree is eyeing a huge market opportunity with cross-border consumers are expected to spend $24 billion on physical goods from U.S. online retailers in 2014, based on a study conducted on the company’s behalf by Forrester Research. Despite the large volume, Borderfree asserts that the market remains significantly under-monetized by U.S. retailers, many of whom view international expansion as important to their overall business strategies.
The company counts retailers and brands such as Aeropostale, J.Crew, Lands’ End, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Under Armour, Warby Parker and Williams-Sonoma among its customers. As of December 31, 2013, Borderfree said its platform was being used by 91 customers operating 158 Web sites and processed sales volume of $448 million. Founded in 1999, Borderfree didn’t launch its e-commerce platform until 2008. It now appears to be on the path to profitability, generating net income of $5.7 million last year, including a $6.7 million one-time gain on the sale of a business, a $200,000 profit in 2012 and a $700,000 loss in 2013.