La-Z-Boy continues to focus on its growing retail footprint

Company is looking to have 400 stores in the next several years, up from 355 at the end of its latest fiscal year ended April 27

MONROE, Mich. — From La-Z-Boy’s latest earnings call for its fourth quarter and full fiscal year ended April 27, it’s clear that retail development — both new store openings and acquisitions — remains a core part its strategy moving forward.   

Of course, none of this is new given the number of stores the company has in place currently. But it appears to be positioning itself for even further growth in the months and years ahead.  For example, during its latest earnings call, company President and CEO Melinda D. Whittington noted that the brand is looking to have about 400 La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries over the next several years, up from 355 at the end of its latest fiscal year.

Melinda D. Whittington

The 355, which is up six locations from the prior year, brings the number of total company owned stores to 187, including the six new store openings and 11 acquisitions during the full year, including the acquisition of a two-store independent network in Florida during the quarter. And in May, she said, the company also signed an agreement to acquire an additional one-store market from an independent dealer in the Midwest that’s set to close in the first quarter of fiscal year 2025.

Bob Lucian, senior vice president and chief financial officer, noted that the company plans to open 12-15 new stores — separate of any acquisitions — mostly in the second half of the year as part of a planned $70 million to $80 million in capital expenditures during the fiscal year, which he noted “includes land and building investments and stores to maintain the growth of our retail network.”

Obviously, the company is bullish on its store network during a time when furniture retail is struggling amid an environment of high interest rates that are hampering existing home sales, combined with consumers tightening their belts with high-dollar purchases.

During the call, Whittington noted that while total written sales for company-owned La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries were up 1% for the quarter, written same-store sales for the entire network of 355 stores were down 3% for the quarter compared to the prior year and down 2% for the entire year. But she also noted that this performance is still better than the industry overall “against a backdrop of 8% industry contraction” during the quarter and down 6% for the year “as our significant outperformance versus the market persisted throughout the year.”

“Despite ongoing challenging traffic trends, our stores continued to execute very well, with higher conversions, higher ticket and design sales partially mitigating the traffic headwinds,” she noted.

In addition, the company now owns 53% of the stores in the La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries network for the first time in its history. Of course, some of this has to do with the acquisition of stores from independent dealers looking to get out of the business during this ongoing period of malaise. Perhaps company ownership will improve the performance of these locations as things start to turn around, but that largely depends on support from the economy.

For Whittington, the growth of the store footprint makes sense moving forward.

“We see meaningful opportunity to expand the company-owned portion of the network through new store growth and acquisitions,” she said, adding, “These store acquisitions are immediately accretive to our profitability, allowing the company to benefit from integrated wholesale and retail margins.”

She also noted that growing the company-owned store network is important “as it enables the brand to control the end-to-end consumer experience and leverage the strength of our vertically integrated model.”

Another benefit in the company-owned store approach? It also helps guide product development.

“We continue to shift organizational decision-making to be more consumer-centric while also leveraging a data-driven approach,” Whittington said, adding, “This is enabling us to develop more consumer-relevant, on-trend upholstered furniture, particularly in the motion and reclining categories where we are a market leader.”

Of course, this consumer-driven approach is not just beneficial to the development of upholstery and recliners, but also wood categories such as occasional, along with bedroom and dining furniture offered by its sister brands.

The success of this growth initiative also obviously depends on a number of factors, ranging from interest rates and housing sales to the consumers’ willingness to return to spending more on the home. Yet despite these uncertainties, Whittington was optimistic about the company’s strategy, not just in its retail store footprint, but also how it is serving consumers in the market overall, ranging from the agility of its supply chain to product development initiatives.

“We know there are consumers out there still investing in their home, even in a challenging economy, and we believe we are disproportionately capturing them,” she said. “But if I were to step back and say ‘what is the biggest pivot for us as a total enterprise?’ It’s really this focus on driving our own company-owned retail and the reason for that is two-fold. We can control that brand experience for the consumer end-to-end. We can avail ourselves of the data from that consumer by interacting with them directly, and from a financial standpoint, we can take advantage of that integrated margin of owning the entire chain, from pieces of fabric and steel all the way to putting that product in the consumer’s home. And we believe that’s good for the consumer, and that’s good for our financials as well. So really, I would call continuing to expand our reach of our own retail probably the No. 1 biggest driver.”

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

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