lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2012


In line with our retail concept of the month,..especially as we already mentioned before...TO BE SUCCESSFUL, YOU HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT... we dedicate this special to Loods 5, a Dutch lifestyle, decoration and furniture concept.  Perhaps not that much for its products the items sold, are mainly quiet basic and can be found in each lifestyle and decoration store,...but more for its originality, concept and product presentation.
Loods 5 acts as a kind of big showroom (industrial looking warehouse), cash and carrry,...offering a wide range of different products of various importers, suppliers and wholesalers, who actually wanted to get rid of their overstock and not sold items.  Those companies are renting a space at Loods 5 (there actually more than 200 suppliers), offering their products at their stipulated price.  Loods 5 takes care of the complete layout, sales staff, marketing en management, en exchange of % on the sales of the goods.   The fact that their are so many suppliers and the continuous flow of new products, together with this well thought en very attractive concept, makes it complete.  The store is divided into a kind of Ikea, concept looking store, (but much more attractive and not that stereo type and clean) where the client has to follow the routing, passing by the various product groups like furniture, kitchen, bath and bed accessories, kitchen, design, lighting, art...and at the end the coffee shop.  Although, it was originally seen, more, as an outlet, they started to offer day to day collections at regular prices.  (maybe this could give you some bad surprise ....).  Today, they function more as a regular furniture and decoration store and also offer the latest collections, next to their special offers.
Nevertheless, it is definitely worthwhile a visit, just for seeing, the way they have set up their concept and the beautiful use and presentation of the products.
Go and visit them...and or surf to and read their blog.  Very interesting tips.

sábado, 29 de diciembre de 2012



After 5 years through a tough economical period, we all kept the private and professional marks of this never ending situation.  Those who try to convince us that it will finish this year,..just are the same which have repeated every year the same story.  Believe will take some more time than just this year and our economical system will never be as it was before.  The old system does not exist anymore and some of our lifetime privileges are going to disappear.  It is time to start working differently.  NEVER WASTE A GOOD CRISIS.  Start with this new management style, drop this way of authority towards autonomy. More time for CREATIVITY and RESPONSIBILITY with the employer and employee...even if it goes that not good.  So...more efficiency, using the latest technology.
So, managers of today,..don´t be afraid of the employee with a new perspective,..with some dreams.  Be open for a new story.  Do not see each provocation as a form of anarchism, but a form to the need of new perspective in life.  Lets drop the old management control system en lets try something different.
Just different and better...

sábado, 22 de diciembre de 2012


The 'Smalle International Retailing team' wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

viernes, 21 de diciembre de 2012


The Retail Management Pyramid

This pyramid should be your permanent guideline and instrument to achieve the best results in your business.
Good and motivated employees, a good quality product with an added value, different and better than your competitors, a good and well organized efficient management system and finally an excellent customer service to your clients.
At the end, results guaranteed!!!

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2012


Images from 'les adventures de Spirou a Paris', 'the pop up Prada store in Paris', 'le Grand Palais depuis le pont Alexandre III', 'Merci, the concept store Paris', 'Gargoyles, les anges de nuit'.

domingo, 16 de diciembre de 2012

ETHAN ALLEN Home Interiors and Decoration

Surf to or 'Ethan Allen Continues International Expansion' and learn more about the story behind this successful company.  A perfect exemple that 'RETAIL IS JUST DETAIL' and a guideline for your company...

     Ethan Allen 

1er Centre de Déco européen à Bruxelles

Le tout premier Centre de Décoration européen Ethan Allen a ouvert ses portes hier sur la Place du Grand Sablon à Bruxelles. C’est dans une prestigieuse maison de maître – et sur deux étages – que la marque américaine héberge sa superbe collection. Entre service unique et style personnalisé, Ethan Allen nous éblouit!

Ethan Allen, le luxe abordable

Ethan Allen est une marque américaine d’inspiration cosmopolite. Après 80 ans de fabrication d’éléments de qualité, la marque met tout en œuvre pour conserver sa traditionnelle perfection. Avec plus de 300 Centres de Décoration, Ethan Allen offre à ses clients un artisanat d’exception, de la qualité, du style et un service personnalisé. En outre, la marque offre le luxe à un prix abordable !

Une marque, Cinq styles de vie

Si la maison offre des produits classiques, elle offre aussi du design contemporain, romantique et vintage. Mais sa particularité est surtout qu’elle offre un service unique et personnalisé à ses clients. Les designers d’Ethan Allen sont des professionnels du design talentueux qui conseillent les clients de A à Z. Les relations uniques que ces Designers établissent avec les clients constituent une des nombreuses raisons qui font des clients d’Ethan Allen des habitués.
Les 5 ‘Signatures Lifestyle’, ou styles de vie, d’Ethan Allen – Moderne, Vintage, Romance, Exploreur et Élégance – ont pour but d’amener un véritable style personnalisé dans les maisons. Chaque style est différent et chacun d’eux peut s’adapter à chaque individu.
Les clients qui ont envie de connaitre leur style peuvent se rendre en magasin et effectuer un petit quiz . Ils peuvent ensuite découvrir comment adapter leur personnalité à leur maison… et à leur budget.

Premier Centre de Décoration européen !

Ce qu’Ethan Allen souhaite apporter en Europe, c’est le luxe abordable. Établie aux Etats-Unis depuis 80 ans, la marque américaine a aujourd’hui décidé d’installer son premier « flagship store » européen à Bruxelles, ville internationale par excellence. C’est dans le magnifique quartier du Sablon qu’Ethan Allen a décidé de s’installer et de commencer sa future expansion européenne.

a view of the collection



After 28 years, of traveling, working and tasting around the world, I believe it is time to tell you my story and share with you, some of my experiences. My first international experience started in New York, when I was 18 years old, ready to discover the world.  My notebook full of plans and a concrete project.  I left for New York... I was going to launch the Belgian Waffles in the Big Apple.  It was a great and tough experience...starting from the distribution of flyers in the Grand Central Terminal station, housekeeping in Staten Island and serving in a restaurant in the Tribeca area. The waffle concept, however, I realized a couple of years later, across the Atlantic in Portugal.
Back in  Belgium, I started my professional career at giant American sportswear company, the VF group.  I was appointed as Product Manager Lee Jeans Europe.  After 2 years, I moved to the leading worldwide sports retailer 'Intersport International Group' in Bern, Switzerland, to start as Brand Manager Europe, developing, managing and launching their textile collections with their European affiliates.  
3 years later, I was sent to Portugal as Country Sourcing and Quality Manager, controlling all production and sourcing of their products.  
The set up of new concepts has always been my cup of tea, after all these years, I dare call it my 'retail instinct'...In Portugal and next to my existing job, I created and launched 4 years later, my first own retail concept...'Carciofi'.  A new Italian fast food concept.  I opened a first take away store in a shopping mall in Oporto, 6 months later a first franchise store opened its doors (complete franchise concept) in Braga and 1 year later, the 'street restaurant concept' in Vila do Conde (an exclusive seaside resort next to Oporto).  
The success of the concept, was mainly due to the fact that we offered a different way of eating Italian pizza, offering, instead of the typical pan pizza with an excess of ingredients.  We offered a thin crusty taste full masa with just enough less but much better quality.
This, presented in a nice original concept, combined with an excellent service, were considered as different and new and became very popular.
In line with our pizza concept, we launched our very successful homemade ice cream and the famous Belgian waffles ( they are..).. under the name 'Babette', but integrated into our 'Carciofi' concept.  The results were in line with the success of Carciofi and very soon we opened 3 ice cream parlors in the north of Portugal.
As the pizza from Carciofi became the talk of the town, we also started our pizza corner in the main disco of Oporto, the 'Pacha' with an tremendous success.

CARCIOFI...THE WHOLE STORY... some impressions.

our company marketing

our franchise leaflet

a magazine publicity


   our first store in the shopping mall in Oporto

our first franchise store in Braga

our first street store in Vila do Conde

our company warehouse

our production unit

our company fleet

the crowd, waiting for an 'Babette' ice cream

and more people...

a view inside the ice cream parlor 'Babette'

two young 'Babette' ice cream fans

the 'Pacha' disco pizza corner

After 10 years of Portugal, it was time for a change.  Especially as we got a very interesting offer to take over the company.  
Carciofi,.. was probably, one of the most exciting projects in my life.
Next stop....SPAIN


The idea of Sofa deco, started about 11 years ago in Barcelona.  At that time,... it was not even called Sofa deco and the concept was more a kind sell-out warehouse, painted in flashy yellow and cobalt blue colours, packed with furniture, this kind of cheap factory outlets.  We catch up the idea in Portugal and decided to launch a similar project in Spain.  At that time, Spain was one the leading economical countries in Europe and the big boom in the real estate provide a tremendous market for the furniture business.  Everything was possible and could be sold.  After the tremendous success of our first store in Barcelona, we opened our first store in Madrid.  The stores, were mainly warehouses, situated on very commercial highways.
Mid 1997, together with the Lehman Brother crisis,...everything changed.  Suddenly, the Spanish market received the first reactions of this global economical bubble and in very short time the crisis hit the market, with the current situation as result.
After analyzing the situation, we decided to upgrading our product and image by creating a new concept, Sofa deco.  Where in a difficult market situation, mayor businesses intent to reduce selling prices (with less profit ) and try to operate into to lower segment of the market (the famous Maslow pyramid), in order to survive, we decided to upgrade and operate into the middle level, by offering better products, at the right price.  This level, was and is still a quiet abandon segment, but allowed us to position the company to what we are today.  By upgrading and creating the right concept, offering products with added value at very competitive prices, presented into a different more modern and actual concept, where quick response and service are very important (all our products, can be ordered in various sizes, fabrics and colors and are produced in Spain, with a delivery lead time from 3 to max 6 weeks), allowed us to stand out of the crowd and be still into the market today.
By reducing our product group into a more narrow, but more depth product offer, specializing it, into 2 main areas, upholstery and bedding, we managed to be more exclusive and better than others.
The upgrading into the middle segment, allowed us not only, to catch the upper level consumer, used to buy more expensive brands, but always looking for similar quality products, but at more competitive prices, but also the more lower level looking consumer, who originally first was seduced for the prices of lower level and mostly, less quality products, but finally turnover to buy a more quality product for a small price difference.
So, definitely, by offering an upgraded product, with an added value at a competitive price, so not necessary the lowest price.  
Just being different.  
Today, we operate 2 successful stores in Madrid and are preparing, after more than 10 years of experiences, to launch our first franchise store.  Our strong longtime experience with our local suppliers, allows us to look the future with optimism and start with the expansion of Sofa deco.
To be followed...

Some product images

How we convert a store into a Sofa deco store