Will opening hotels help West Elm sell more furniture?
West Elm is launching a number of boutique hotels. The home furnishings retailer, owned by Williams & Sonoma, will design, furnish and market the hotels. Guests will be given the opportunity to purchase items found in their room.
The first properties in Detroit, Savannah, Charlotte and Indianapolis are expected to begin opening in late 2018. DDK will operate the hotels.
“After twenty-six consecutive quarters of double-digit comparative growth, including our successful entry into the commercial furnishings market with West Elm Workspace, we’ve created an active bond with our customers that can extend beyond home and work,” said Jim Brett, president of West Elm, in a statement.
West Elm will emphasize local décor, cuisine and culture from the region in its hotels, including artwork commissioned and curated locally.
The move comes amid the growing popularity of boutique hotels. But Mr. Brett told the Wall Street Journal that part of the reason it is opening hotels is because he didn’t want to make the mistake of other retailers in opening too many stores. West Elm currently has 93 stores and expects to open a similar number of hotels. Last year the company launched a commercial furniture division, Workspace, to similarly diversify its expansion options.
Although the items in the rooms won’t include price tags, guests will be able to purchase West Elm bed sheets, bar trolleys, chairs and other furnishings as well as any artwork in the hotels online at westelm.com. West Elm hospitality head Peter Fowler told the Journal, “We don’t want you to feel like you’re sleeping in a showroom.”
Others pursuing similar moves include Restoration Hardware, which opened a 14-room hotel and restaurant in New York’s Meatpacking District last year, as well as Equinox Holdings Inc., which plans to open fitness-themed hotels.
- West Elm Expands Into Travel And Hospitality With West Elm Hotels – West Elm
- West Elm to Launch Its Own Boutique Hotels – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- West Elm bets its brand will draw guests to a new hotel chain – Business Journals
- West Elm Launches Boutique Hotel Line (And It’s Shoppable) – Conde Nast Traveler
- Major Hotel Brands Compete For Space In The Boutique Hotel Trend – International Business Times
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do hotels make sense as a branding extension for West Elm and other retailers? What do you think of enabling guests to purchase items in their hotel rooms? Should other retailers with a strong lifestyle or niche focus be looking to diversify beyond retail?