Business

Ashley expands

Ashley Furniture expands to Montego Bay

BY KARENA BENNETT
Business reporter
bennettk@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017



A year after opening its first outlet in Kingston, Jamaica, Ashley Furniture Homestore has expanded to Montego Bay.

Managed by Unicomer Jamaica Limited — which trades as Courts Jamaica — Ashley yesterday opened its second store in Fairview Shopping Centre, Montego Bay, just in time for the festive season.

General Manager Pamille Shaw-Blair, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, said the company chose Montego Bay for its second location because the town is the next largest-growing area for commerce outside of Kingston.

“It has a lot of potential because it has a mix of the tourists who want to have a vacation home in Jamaica, and it's also a place where people who already own homes want to make it convenient for renting, whether long-term or short-term,” she said.

“It's a buzzing area for ecotourism, as well as regular tourism and hospitality, and everything having to do with hospitality ties back to us because we provide the furniture to make your house a home,” Blair continued.

In a partnership that started seven years ago, Ashley Furniture's line of living, dining and bedroom sets were being sold in Courts stores across the region. The relationship later deepened with the opening of 13 exclusive Ashley Galleries and the official opening of the first franchised Ashley Furniture Homestore in Jamaica.

The opening of the business venture saw Courts Jamaica closing its Liguanea branch and instead carrying exclusive lines of the Ashley Furniture brand. But despite the franchised operation, Courts continues to carry a line of Ashley products in its showrooms islandwide under the partnership.

Ashley Furniture Homestore Montego Bay has created employment for 12 individuals, bringing to 26 the number of people hired by the company to date.

“It's 12 persons employed to the Montego Bay store itself, but by extension we have the drivers and other people who support us to make deliveries and after-sales procedures,” Shaw-Blair told the Business Observer.

The store's multi-floor showroom boasts a number of new design pieces and also replicates the design of one of the newest stores globally, according to the general manager.

“I'm thinking that it will definitely be a catch, not just for Jamaicans but other persons who enjoy having a different look and feel. We are focusing very heavily on accessory and accent pieces, as well as occasional pieces, because we want people to be able to transform and jazz up their space as people get ready for the festive season,” she reasoned.

While Shaw-Blair was tight-lipped about the company's investment in the new showroom, she noted that Jamaicans are now seeing Ashley Furniture as the consultant for design items.

As for the competition in Montego Bay, “I think if anything we are the competition, we are changing the landscape. It is a matter of persons seeing the value, and at the end of the day a full-service entity is what's going to sell,” Shaw-Blair said.

She added that the company is not settled on plans for the next two years, but is confident that what it brings to the market will be different.

Ashley Furniture Industries, which has been operating since 1945, is today considered one of the largest manufacturer of furniture across the globe. The company operates 625 other locations worldwide and plans for its second Caribbean holding to be in Trinidad.

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