Transforming Retail Appliance Shopping – Riddle Style
In just three years, John Riddle has made Howard’s the Retailer to Watch
Howard’s, Southern California’s premier independent appliance retailer, has experienced a drastic transformation from an underperforming organization on the brink of collapse to a company on an aggressive growth trajectory. The reason? The leadership of President, CEO and Chairman of the Board John Riddle.
A recognized retail and manufacturing growth expert and industry veteran, Riddle joined the company at a time of crisis, bringing a bold vision: to become the number one retailer in the U.S. for customer experience.
Facing a bleak future, on shaky financial ground, Howard’s, under Riddle, has seen doubling of revenue and was recently named “one of the fastest-growing midsize private companies” by the Orange County Business Journal.
Riddle’s goal at Howard’s has been to put the customer at the center of all its efforts. Behind that focus are key customer-centric initiatives that have led directly to the company’s current success. These include:
- Experience Centers – In 2020 Howard’s introduced the Experience Center concept, an interactive appliance playground for shoppers who like to see, touch and test products before they make a purchasing decision. These locations are significantly larger than a typical retail store and designed to allow customers to drive their own experience, engaging directly with appliances by pushing buttons, turning on the gas or even doing a load of laundry.
- Revolutionizing the Retail Experience (RARE) — RARE encourages a straightforward, friction-free shopping experience with as much or as little sales interaction as customers desire. Upending the traditional sales experience, Howard’s has invested in innovative digital technologies in all their stores, introducing new and creative ways for customers to make purchasing decisions.
- Strategic Growth – Howard’s is poised to capture 10–15% of the $2.7 billion retail appliance market share through regional and national expansion. The launch of the company’s Mergers and Acquisitions program earlier this year resulted in the successful acquisition of independent retailers, expanding its Southern California footprint. Today, the company boasts 15 locations across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Plans for expansion into San Diego are expected later this year as well as across the Western United States into new underserved markets such as Las Vegas, Arizona, Texas and beyond.
- Financial Stability – Howard’s revenues doubled from 2019 to 2021 and are expected to triple in 2022. Thanks to a series of key financial moves, the retailer is projected to report a 26% CAGR through the fall quarter of 2022 with expected revenue growth from $60M in 2019 to a forecasted $380M in the fall quarter of 2025. The sale of its distribution center, acquisition strategy and same-store growth in the range of 60% to 150% per location have further solidified Howard’s financial position.
- Expanded Customer Base – Howard’s has seen a shift in its core demographic to younger, more affluent customers, particularly Millennials and Generation X. These are the fastest-growing consumer segments that will account for a significant amount of luxury spending over the next decade. To cater to the needs of these audiences, Howard’s is embracing seamless customer experiences, Smart home tech, digital commerce options, and the latest technologies in-store and online.
Riddle came to Howard’s in March of 2019 after retiring from LG as the Senior Vice President of Home Appliances & Air Solutions USA in 2018, where he led the company during a period of unprecedented growth and market share. Riddle also worked at Maytag for more than 20 years, as well as Philips, Fleetwood Homes, Electrolux, and Hisense USA.
Howard’s is Southern California’s premier independent appliance retailer, committed to the customer experience. Through the RARE (Revolutionizing the Appliance Retail Experience) customer service initiative Howard’s has revolutionized the traditional sales model, placing the customer at its center and guaranteeing a friction-free shopping experience. The introduction of the Experience Center concept gives customers a personalized and interactive shopping alternative with immersive demonstration and display centers designed to encourage informed purchasing
KB-Resource covered Riddle’s growth stategy in an earlier post HOWARD’S Acquires Riverside’s Taylor’s Appliance. Retailers face increasing challenges in today’s marketplace, including finding the right technology solutions, maintaining their customer base and the digital disruption all companies have to deal with. With the struggling physical storefronts, massive debt, and inefficient operations, among other issues they face, Riddle’s turnaround is something to behold.