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ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The former St. John’s home of Bed Bath & Beyond will be part of a Canadian businessman’s push to establish a new home décor brand.
This week, it was announced that Doug Putman of Putman Investments Inc. is taking over 21 former Bed Bath & Beyond and buybuy BABY locations in Canada. There, he’ll be launching rooms + spaces, a new retailer specializing in home décor.
“I think you’re going to see a lot fuller store with a lot more assortment (of products),” Putman told SaltWire. “Similar product to Bed Bath, no doubt. But I think our outlook is you need to have more stock in the stores, and you need to have the right stock at the right price. There was a lot of reliance of Bed Bath Canada on Bed Bath U.S. I think as the U.S. (operations) deteriorated, it got worse and worse on inventory (in Canada).”
The move follows Bed Bath & Beyond’s decision earlier this year to close its Canadian stores amid mounting financial troubles for the company, which also had stores in Mexico. In April, the company went bankrupt and initiated the liquidation process.
Putman already has business interests in St. John’s as the owner of Toys”R”Us and Sunrise Records. He told SaltWire that T.Kettle, a retail tea store brand he also owns, will return to the Avalon Mall before the end of this year. Bed Bath & Beyond’s financial struggles certainly caught Putman’s attention.
“We obviously liked the space a lot and the categories they sell,” he said. “It picked up a lot of steam in the new year as you saw more and more of those financial results and problems. Once we saw the writing on the wall, we definitely ramped up.”
rooms + spaces will carry a wide array of items meant to enhance the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and other parts of the home environment. The business already has a number of noteworthy brands lined up, including oxo, Homedics, Cuisinart and Martex, amongst others. Putman said there’s a lot of vendor interest brewing for rooms + spaces, adding merchants working for the company will be keeping an eye out for hot new items.
“I think we’re in a great position, from a brand standpoint, but you can never say you’re done adding, because customer taste changes,” he said. “It’s up to us as the retailer to make sure we’ve got our finger on the pulse.”
Bed Bath & Beyond had stores in all four Atlantic provinces. In addition to Newfoundland and Labrador, the launch of rooms + spaces will occur in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. Putman said he does not intend to stop there, with plans to have close to 30 stores open in Canada by the end of 2023.
“We know that we are clearly not servicing Atlantic Canada to the level we want to and need to,” he said. “For the next six-to-12 months, we’re actively looking for more locations, working with the landlord community to see if we can get a few more stores open there.”
rooms + spaces are presently hiring for more than 500 positions. Putman said the St. John’s store will have more than 20 employees, with staffing levels ramping up in the lead up to Christmas.
Canadian Tire also acquired 10 former Bed Bath & Beyond locations in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, announcing plans this week to use those spaces to open additional Mark’s and Pro Hockey Life stores.