Retail

Executive Perspectives: Lee Bird

For retailers, now is the time to reexamine how business is done, says At Home Group’s chief executive.

Since taking the helm as CEO in 2012, Lee Bird has transformed At Home Group, the home goods retailer formerly known as Garden Ridge. A former top executive with big brands like Nike, Gap, and Old Navy, he has led an expansion that has taken Plano-based At Home from about 60 to more than 200 stores across the country.  

How are you coping amid the COVID-19 crisis?   

This pandemic is challenging us to think differently, reexamine how we do business, and, most importantly, come together to rally our greatest strength, the human spirit. Through all of this, we are re-emphasizing what is most importantour customers, our team members, and our communitiesand continue to make informed decisions in the best interest of all.  

I’ve always known we are a company with a soul, and I am so honored to be working with a team that has remained calm and resilient during this extremely unusual time while still taking care of each other and our customers. Although we have had to make difficult decisions, we remain optimistic and focused on the long term. 

What will things look like for your company and industry in another six months?  

The retail industry will likely be contracting over the next few months, which may cause a lot of unhealthy players to fall out of the marketplace. Value players that are focused on keeping their prices low, like At Home, typically do well in difficult economic times, because we stay focused on customers and their needs. We’ve taken some swift and bold steps to protect and preserve our business and are well-positioned to emerge stronger than ever once this is behind us. 

Have you found silver linings in these difficult times?   

These challenging times have revealed how nimble and responsive our team is and how well we all work together to accomplish big goals, even while working from afar. For example, because of COVID-19, we quickly pivoted and applied an entrepreneurial mindset to our multiyear rollout of omnichannel services by executing a three-phase plan within 90 days. We can now service our customers with buy-online-pickup-in-store, curbside pickup, and contactless, next-day local delivery at a majority of our locations, as allowed by local and state mandates. 

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