As it continues to expand — recently opening its 12th Southern California store in Orange County — the family-run, San Diego-based Jerome’s Furniture is now also handling a significant transition in leadership.
President and CEO Lee Goodman recently announced that he was stepping down after 10 years with the privately held retail company. In a statement issued in early April, Goodman did not elaborate on the reasons for his planned exit, but said his departure was “necessary based on how I want to approach the next chapter of my life.”
Goodman, who joined the company as chief operating officer in December 2005, said he would be working over the next six months with the Navarra family to assure a smooth transition.
Senior Vice President Jim Navarra, who is part of a third generation of Navarras now involved in the company’s growing operations, said Goodman will continue to serve as president and CEO as Jerome’s conducts its search for his successor.
In late May, Jerome’s opened its latest store in Fountain Valley near Santa Ana, its third in Orange County and the seventh showroom location to open outside of its home base of San Diego County.
Navarra said the company is “very encouraged” so far with the Fountain Valley store’s performance and is expecting strong customer response for the long term as it continues to grow its market share in Orange, San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. All of its stores are in Southern California.
“Our growth strategy has not changed,” Navarra said in an email. “We will continue to expand in a pragmatic and deliberate way, looking for opportunities while ensuring we continue to provide the same excellent customer service and value to our customers, no matter our size.”
Navarra said consumer preferences have been trending in recent years toward lighter fabrics and finishes, and toward higher-ticket items. However, customers remain budget-conscious, and the company is seeing increasing demand for items such as its Jerome-branded mattresses.
Overall, he said the retailer’s consumer slant remains “laser-focused on value,” with its longtime strategy of daily regular competitive pricing rather than temporary promotional discounts.
A Top 100 Ranking
The strategy appears to be paying off. According to the industry news publication Furniture Today, Jerome’s finished 2015 with estimated sales of $196.9 million, ranking No. 43 on the publication’s recently released 2016 list of the nation’s Top 100 furniture retailers. It moved up six slots from its No. 49 ranking on last year’s list.
The 2016 list also included San Diego-based Mor Furniture for Less, placing at No. 30, down one notch from 29th in last year’s ranking, with estimated 2015 sales of $324 million. Furniture Today said the Top 100 retailers as a group saw sales rise 11 percent in 2015 over the prior year, topping $41.8 billion.
Jerome’s has ranked steadily among Furniture Today’s Top 100 since 2005, when it posted sales of $106.3 million. It ranked 18th among San Diego County’s largest private companies based on revenue in the San Diego Business Journal Book of Lists for 2013, the most recent year for which Jerome’s submitted financial data.
Jerome’s Furniture — now in business for 62 years and led by Chairman Jerome “Jerry” Navarra, Jim’s father — operates a central distribution center and corporate offices in Rancho Bernardo, along with five showroom stores throughout the San Diego region.
Tech Is Part of Sales Force
In addition to ubiquitous print and TV ads featuring Jerry Navarra as the friendly face of the company, Jerome’s Furniture has taken steps in recent years to boost its social media profile in venues including Facebook and Twitter, and it offers online and print versions of its own home design magazine.
It has also added a live chat feature to its website, among other efforts to enhance customer service. At its Rancho Bernardo distribution center, for instance, officials previously said the company invested significantly in system improvements allowing customers to track orders in real time and receive more precise delivery windows, as the company took in-house several functions that had been handled earlier by outside third parties.
In the past year, it has bolstered its digital and mobile advertising, including recent use of Google analytics programs to track store visits and adjust inventory to customer demand trends.
While Jerome’s no longer has an active presence in downtown San Diego, where the company was founded in 1954 by a group that included Jerry’s father, also named Jim Navarra, a multiblock area of former warehouse properties still owned by the Navarra family is now being developed as the mixed-use Makers Quarter in East Village.
Apartment, office and other commercial projects are in various planning and construction stages within Makers Quarter, under a development team chosen by the Navarras, known as L2HP.
Chairman: Jerome “Jerry” Navarra
Revenue: $196.9 million in 2015 (estimated)
No. of local employees: Approximately 300 (600 companywide)
Headquarters: San Diego (Rancho Bernardo)
Year founded: 1954
Company description: Furniture retailer with 12 Southern California stores