Hilding Anders Journey Towards Retail Excellence in Croatia
15 years ago, the Hilding Anders Group acquired Perfecta and Hespo in Croatia. Whilst Perfecta has always been a DTC business, Hespo has undergone an extensive transformation over the past year into a modern, consumer-focused bedding specialist.
The bedding industry has over the last couple of years seen a lot of changes that has significantly transformed the playing field. The management team in Croatia was aware of this notion and understood that they had to take a good look at the structure of their business.
In 2018, Damir Matijevic assumed the role of General Manager of Hilding Anders’ Croatian business and swiftly started setting the tone for the new growth initiatives of the business unit. After receiving valuable input from Equestris, a prominent Croatian market research agency, the new local management team began developing their new strategy.
“After forming a new management team, we evaluated our market position with special focus to better measure the performance of our brands. Hespo’s strong partnerships, from the largest furniture chains to the smaller independent shops, has enabled our growth during the past decades. Based on our research findings, we realized that the strength of Hespo and Perfecta had not been harnessed to its fullest potential. Whilst we still base our growth through our stable relationships with our partners, we are also steering our sales strategy in a new direction by opening Hespo DTC stores in a few Croatian cities. We have extensive experience and knowledge in retail to build on and by combining that with substantial improvements in our online performance we will be better equipped to answer general market trends”, commented Damir Matijević, General Manager BU Adriatic.
The findings resulted in the following decisions:
1. Hespo will continue to grow together with all its wholesale partnerships by investing even more in product development, building the Hespo brand and creating long-term franchise relationships.
2. Hespo will operate several own retail stores in relevant locations, thus coming closer to the consumer and strengthening the position of being a bedding specialist.
3. New brand architecture is defined with clear value propositions and differentiation for both, Hespo and Perfecta.
4. Develop a brand-new website for Hespo and de facto launch a best in class digital bedding platform on the Croatian market.
Over a 13-month period, the team managed to open 10 owned Hespo retail stores developed based on a “dream showroom” concept that encompassed the entire consumer purchasing experience.
“Our goal was that the store would serve as more than just being a ‘nice looking store’, where each showroom was optimally designed to create touch points for consumer interactions”, added Damir Matijevic.
Perhaps one of the most recited phrases related to marketing is “location, location, location” and it served as the main ethos when determining the positioning of the retail stores. A Hespo flagship store was established in the heart of Zagreb. A decision that has since paid off.
“Apart from generating great sales results, the store serves as a fantastic platform for marketing outreach, with its big show-windows and the Hespo brand logo to raise awareness. Based on this model and knowledge, we were able to extrapolate the same “Hespo shop experience” throughout 10 other stores located in larger cities of Croatia", commented Kristina Bošnjak, Retail Sales Manager.
The general idea behind the “dream showroom” is a comfortable and functional store, in which customers can quietly lie down and relax.
This is important, because only a relaxed customer can try out all the beds and matrasses. Besides that, they can choose between all the fabrics and other materials, pillows and diﬀerent accessories.
While choosing a new mattress or bed, customers usually have numerous questions. And the space is conceptualized in such a way that there is a large space of comfort, where customers can get direct answers to their questions and solve any potential dilemmas.
An essential part of providing the customer with a positive experience is of course the interaction with the sales representative, or rather the ‘sleep expert’ as they are called. Therefore, the store space has been divided into several zones with ideal sections for proving sleep consultation.
“We believe that our sales personnel are our competitive advantage, primarily because they are well educated and provide customers with all the necessary information during the purchase experience. The retail tracker, a simple 3 min questionnaire for the visitor about his/her shopping experience is very important in this regard. It does not take too much time for customers since they can ﬁll out the questionnaire while waiting for the oﬀer or the invoice during just a couple of minutes. In turn, it provides us with valuable information about how they view their experience with us and what we can do to become even better” adds Kristina Bošnjak.
Furthermore, the team have several other initiatives on their journey towards retail excellence. To be continued.