Pirch on Tuesday announced that Steve Smith has been appointed president and chief executive officer, effective immediately, replacing Andrea Dorigo. Smith has 40 years of management experience and more than 22 years of experience in the kitchen and bath showroom business, including in retail operations, merchandising and marketing, according to a company press release.
Smith spent almost 10 years as general manager of privately-held home improvement center Sackett & Peters and more than 12 at The Home Depot, where he led purchasing, merchandising, advertising and store design for the showroom division. He was general manager at telecommunications carrier VelaTel Global Communications, where he managed inventory and developed the retail store network.
The high-end appliance retailer earlier this year shifted its focus to construction and design trades after retreating from a nationwide expansion of its high-touch experiential stores that failed to spur sales outside of its California base.
Pirch garnered widespread admiration and numerous awards for its innovative, highly experiential stores, which allow shoppers to actually try out appliances and watch chefs prepare food using more than a dozen kitchen equipment displays, among other working systems. Unlike in typical big-box showrooms, actual water flows from faucets and real flames flicker on stoves.
But that hasn't been enough to keep it going outside of California. Founders Jeffery Sears and Jim Stuart left soon after Dorigo's arrival from luxury eyewear company Luxottica, and the company has struggled since. Pirch sells more than 100 brands, including pricey brands like Bertazzoni, California Faucets, Jenn-Air, La Cornue, Gaggenau, Kallista, Kohler, Miele, Sub-Zero, Wolf, Thermador, Viking — and THG Paris bath products, including Dean, Profil, Beyond Crystal, Collection O, Soho and West Coast. The retailer earlier this year announced a boutique shop-in-shop concept in partnership with luxury French brand THG Paris in its three Southern California showrooms.
The retailer has had to face a harsh reality, learned in a most difficult and expensive way: In its home state, the company's core base is found among architects, builders and interior designers who return for multiple clients. Those professionals would send their clients to check out Pirch's stores, and enthusiasm grew among consumers from there. But that failed to work away from home.
Last year the company hunkered down after shuttering its new stores outside of California at the end of the year due to lagging sales. Most of the stores that shuttered — in Dallas, Chicago, Austin, Paramus, New Jersey, and Atlanta — were in malls and less likely to cater to pros. The store in New York's SoHo neighborhood, meanwhile, appealed to consumers first and the trade second — which proved to be an ineffective strategy, a Pirch spokesperson told Retail Dive at that time.
As part of its revamp, Pirch early in the year announced a loyalty program for architect, builder, contractor and interior design professionals.