A Smart Way To Grow

by Nate Hunter
By Katie Lee

Jos. A. Bank Clothiers plans to add 200 stores over the next several years, beginning with 45 to 50 new locations in 2013.

salt lake JOSJos. A. Bank Clothiers is no stranger to longevity. The Hampstead, Maryland-based retailer, which was founded in 1905, has maintained a modest, steady growth philosophy for more than a century — gradually growing from a smattering of stores in the 1950s to more than 600 today. In the future the company hopes to reach 800 stores. Never one to rush store openings, Jos. A. Bank plans its expansion conservatively, aiming for 45 to 50 new stores in 2013. Forty-six full-line and factory stores joined the roster in 2012, including Jos. A. Bank’s 600th store in Miami.

“In 2013, we’re planning 45 to 50 locations, filling in existing markets and identifying some new markets in the U.S.,” says Stephen Gallant, vice president of facilities development.

Always smart and often conservative, the classic menswear retailer continues to take the same traditional approach that has served it well for more than 100 years when it comes to expansion.

“Our new store programs are self-funded and have been for some time; we don’t borrow money in order to build our store base,” says Gallant.

Anticipated to grow with its increasing store count is Jos. A. Bank’s in-house maintenance team. Currently, according to Jos. A. Bank’s director of facilities, Jason Cherry, the company relies on three in-house staff members who handle repair and maintenance calls directly from the stores. “They function as our call center,” Cherry says. “Then they dispatch that out through an internal system to an assortment of national vendors by trade.”

market st intAfter regular business hours and during emergencies, the process works a little differently. According to Gallant, an emergency telephone is rotated among the facilities staff; stores also have the ability to call certain vendors after hours to coordinate a job without having to get hold of the facilities staff first. “Under an approved dollar amount,” Gallant is quick to add.

With Jos. A. Bank’s geographically diverse — and growing — store base, the company relies mostly on national vendors, with one exception being a super-regional HVAC vendor that self-performs in nine states. Jos. A. Bank also has the unique challenge of maintaining tailoring shops in most stores, which include highly specialized steam presses and sewing equipment.

“The only thing we really rely on local vendors for is our tailor shop repair,” Gallant says. “We have some specialized contractors that are very local to our store markets. We use a variety of vendors that service the steam equipment and sewing machines in some regions.”

Whether vetting new or current vendors, Jos. A. Bank typically performs an RFP every 2 to 4 years based on a number of criteria, such as pricing, references, whether the vendor can handle Jos. A. Bank’s volume of work, etc. “We run a check on the firms we are contemplating using to make sure their financials are in order,” says Cherry. “We check their references and make sure they’re doing their work, paying their bills, and have a good reputation in the industry.”

market st JOSWhen it comes to “going green,” Jos. A. Bank strives to have operationally efficient stores. According to Gallant, the stores use LED lighting, high-efficiency HVAC units, energy management systems, recycled carpet, recyclable drywall and reusable wood fixtures. “Our stores are very green — we just don’t desire to seek any industry certification at this time,” Gallant says.

Looking ahead toward future expansion and the type of real estate it seeks, Jos. A. Bank has its sights set on more lifestyle centers and fewer enclosed malls or freestanding locations. “We want a spot that’s very visible from the street, our customers can find us easily, and they can get in and out and complete their transaction easily and effortlessly,” Gallant says.

Keeping the expanding store base in mind, Gallant says that Jos. A. Bank will likely increase staff on the facilities side as well. “We’ll add staff as the store base increases, of course,” he says. “We’re reevaluating our facility maintenance software to make sure it’s the most efficient based on our needs. There will be some changes to the infrastructure, but the way we do our business is very efficient so we’re going to continue moving forward.”

 — Katie Lee is the editor of Retail Facility Business magazine. This article originally appeared as the February/March 2013 cover story. Email the editor at [email protected].

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