Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sur La Table Announces Expansion Plans for Web Site & Gift Registry, In-House Customer Service, New Stores and More

Set another place at the table, Seattle-based Sur La Table, the premier retailer for creative cooking and artful entertaining, is serving up new stores and relocations. Earlier this year the company opened in King of Prussia, PA and relocated its Freehold, NJ store. Six new retail locations have been selected and additional sites are under review.

“We have been able to secure amazing retail spaces,” said Chief Executive Officer, Jack Schwefel. “Our King of Prussia, CityCentre Houston, and Somerset Mall locations have cooking class programs. Consumers are hungry for culinary education; it’s very gratifying to see continuous increased interest in cooking and grilling at home.” The company currently operates 76 stores and 21 cooking class programs in 26 states plus the District of Columbia. The company’s new design showcases French-inspired exterior features including wrought iron gating, black and white striped awnings, copper finials and rolling pin door pulls.

New locations, opening dates subject to change:
· South Shore Plaza, Braintree, MA; opening September 2010
· Burlington Mall, Burlington, MA; opening September 2010
· Somerset Mall, Troy, MI; opening September 2010
· Upper East Side, New York City, NY; opening September 2010
· Aventura Mall, Aventura, FL; opening November/December 2010
· CityCentre Houston, Houston, TX; opening November/December 2010
Store relocation within existing shopping center:
· Tyson’s Galleria, McLean, VA; new space opening September 2010

With its reputation for providing helpful and knowledgeable customer service (many of its sales associates have professional culinary backgrounds) and an amazing assortment of high quality and exclusive products, Sur La Table is a natural draw for consumers throughout the country as they spend more time cooking and entertaining at home. To maintain its high level of customer service and helpful advice, all new stores will open with experienced Sur La Table managers. Developing personal growth within its workforce, Sur La Table provides individuals with new leadership positions as it grows.

The company is also investing in expansion of its web site and a new gift registry program. Harnessing the most innovative technology available the new site hosts industry leading features that are customer-focused, fast and smart. The new site will carry the full assortment of products available in stores as well as online-only extensions and special vendor partnerships. In addition, the new online gift registry is fully integrated with the stores and customer service division. Customers can customize their experience including weddings, commitment ceremonies, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, house-warming and much more. Full of helpful tips, advice and in-depth product buying guides, the site is designed to easily assist those just getting started and will delight even the most seasoned cook.

“Both our web and customer service division initiatives allow for seamless transition and consistent superior service,” says Schwefel. The customer service center is based in Sur La Table’s distribution center in Brownsburg, IN. In an era where most companies outsource their customer service departments Sur La Table is going against the grain. Starting September 2010 all customer service orders and inquiries will be handled entirely in-house by the company’s customer service department. Leading the team is Mary Jo Ranck, an established Sur La Table manager known for her strong leadership and exceptional customer relations skills. She plans on partnering with the neighboring Sur La Table store in Carmel, IN to promote hands-on and face-to-face associate training at multiple levels to enhance her team’s strength and provide synergy through all channels.

Fall is a time of newness and innovation for Sur La Table and this year is no different. Included in the exclusive lineup are Miyabi Birchwood cutlery; Le Creuset’s Revolution Tools, Dinnerware Collection and Cassis Stoneware; Jura Impressa Z7 One Touch super automatic coffee center; Breville’s Stainless Steel Juicer and Blender combo; Nespresso’s CitiZ cappuccino makers in Metal or Cream; Cuisinart Ice Cream Makers in assorted colors; USA-made Platinum Professional Bakeware; Schott Zwiesel’s Bar Collection and Sur La Table’s own European collection of bakers, dinnerware and serveware. Sur La Table’s library continues to grow with two new cookbooks—Gifts Cooks Love, Recipes for Giving and Simple Comforts available in September.

Hands-on cooking classes continue to be a customer favorite, Sur La Table’s cooking class program started in 1996. Today it is one of the largest nationwide, avocational cooking class programs in America. Class attendance is up throughout the country and corporate team building sessions continue to gain popularity. Companies such as Yahoo, eBay, Google, Apple, Genentech and HP, along with various financial institutions and universities, are seeking cooking lessons to improve team performance. According to Chay Blancett, Sur La Table’s Palo Alto Culinary Manager, who teaches a significant number of sessions, “Tech employees are usually more comfortable with a keyboard than a knife. At Sur La Table we start each popular team building session assessing each person’s cutlery skills. We’ll cover basic knife skills then move on to other cooking techniques. By the end of the session, not only are they working together effectively, they’re chopping and searing like the pros.” Sur La Table’s cooking class program continues to grow with three additional locations added this year: King of Prussia, PA opened May 2010; Troy, MI opening September 2010; Houston, TX opening November/December 2010. The cooking program will continue to be an integral part of the company’s growth.

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