Thursday, December 12, 2019

[UPDATE] Pier 1 Closing Two Atlanta Stores But Still Hiring?

Struggling furniture and home decor retailer Pier 1 Imports  has begun liquidation sales at two of its Atlanta area stores.  The company, which recently dropped the "Imports" from its name, had indicated in April it would close 45 stores this fiscal year, raising that number to 57 in June, and approximately 70 in September, before saying that the actual closures could swell to close to 150.  Based in Fort Worth, Texas and established in 1962, Pier 1 today operates nearly 1,000 stores nationwide.

In metro Atlanta, the company operates more than a dozen stores including both inline and freestanding locations.  The two locations slated for imminent closure are those in Buckhead and Midtown.  The nearly 12,000 square foot Buckhead store, located in Buckhead Place at the corner of Peachtree and Piedmont Roads, opened in late 2011 and acted as a replacement to stores on Peachtree Road in Peachtree Battle and on Lenox Road near Lenox Square.  The roughly 7,500 square foot Midtown store, located in Ansley Mall at the corner of Monroe Drive and Piedmont Avenue, has been in business for decades.  Both the Buckhead and Midtown stores are currently being operated as "clearance stores" but are not "outlets" and continue to receive new merchandise.  

Store employees with whom ToNeTo Atlanta spoke cited "high rent" at the two Atlanta area locations as the reason for the closure.  In reality, it was likely the retailer's inability to renegotiate favorable lease terms, or even concessions, with their respective landlords that led to the closures.  The company indicated the planned closures were "part of a strategic business decision."  

Both stores are currently offering savings of 10-30 percent off in-stock merchandise ahead of what is expected to be an early 2020 closure.  The closure dates could be moved up slightly depending on the velocity of sell-through.

Signage at the Midtown Pier 1 directed customers to some of the chain's other local stores including those on North Druid Hills Road near North DeKalb Mall, Roswell Road in Sandy Springs Plaza, and on Cobb Parkway at Parkway Pointe near Vinings.  Interestingly, signage at the Buckhead store did not direct customers to other stores but paired with liquidation style signage were multiple signs promoting hiring at the store. 
In addition to the two Atlanta area stores, several other stores nationwide have started liquidation sales ahead of their expected early 2020 closures.  Reports indicate that the company plans to withdraw completely from both Hawaii and Alaska, where they will close a combined ten stores.  Additional store closures, both in metro Atlanta and elsewhere, are likely to occur after the new year.  

Cheryl Bachelder, who spent ten years at Atlanta-based Popeyes, resuscitated the struggling fast food chain and added $1 billion to U.S. system sales with its stock price quadrupling.  Bachelder was named interim CEO of Pier 1 on December 19, 2018, but stepped down last month, seemingly unable to [or to give any indication that she could eventually] pull off the same kind of transformation that she had at Popeyes.  Pier 1 named Robert Riesbeck, then its CFO, to the CEO role November 6, with Bachelder remaining on the company's board of directors.  

Pier 1 has in recent years faced several headwinds in its efforts to continue as a going concern.  The rise of ecommerce retailers like Amazon and Wayfair and off-price brick & mortar retailers like HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning have left Pier 1 in a difficult market position.  The brand is seen as dated and stale by many and its merchandise mix does not appeal to today's consumers the way it had in the past. Bed Bath & Beyond, another struggling home goods retailer, announced plans in October to close about 40 stores in the coming months.   

Classic freestanding Pier 1 store 
The former Lenox Road Pier 1 is today home to both Sleep Number and a dental office, while the former Peachtree Road Pier 1 is now home to Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet.  

Sources have told ToNeTo Atlanta that Homesense, a TJX Companies concept similar to HomeGoods, will likely enter the Atlanta market soon.  The Pier 1 space in Buckhead would be appealing to them, especially as its adjacent to sibling brand Marshalls, but its roughly 12,000 square foot size - about half of a typical Homesense - make it unlikely.  One more likely replacement could come from a familiar name.  Tuesday Morning is currently winding down operations at both its Buckhead and Midtown stores, and unlike Pier 1, is said to be looking for replacement sites for both stores.  The current Buckhead Tuesday Morning store is just under 16,000 square feet and the company could be interested in the space, but is notoriously frugal when it comes to its real estate and the cost of Peachtree Road real estate could be cost prohibitive.  

When was the last time you purchased something at Pier 1?  Are you surprised to see Pier 1 closing so many stores?  What would you like to see open in place of the Pier 1 stores in Buckhead and Midtown?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Love Pier 1...sad day

Unknown said...

I love Pier one sorry for them .do inline like everyone is doing have common sense.

Unknown said...

I love Pier one sorry for them .do inline like everyone is doing have common sense.

Anonymous said...

These landlords are absolute idiots. Would rather space go empty than to negotiate, even in today's retail climate.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...