|Berean sets goal of 'doubling the size' of chain|
|Written by Eric Tiansay|
|Thursday, 17 January 2013 11:00 PM EST|
Berean Christian Stores has announced ambitious growth plans, which calls for doubling the size of the chain by the end of 2014.
"We had a very successful fourth quarter in 2012 and are off to a very encouraging start in the new year," said Bill Nielsen, chief operating officer of Berean. "Starting as early as summer of 2013, we will be looking to aggressively increase our store count. While we are developing our new store model that will result in new stores over the next 18 months, we are also very open to possible acquisitions.
"We are in the middle of multiple cordial discussions with several owners to see if acquiring their stores would be a good fit for both parties," he added. "The owners of Berean have set a goal of doubling the size of our company over the next 18 months. Our vision for growth is firmly planted on a commitment to help our customers be Christ to the world as they give hope to those who are hurting and in need."
Based in Cincinnati, the 18-outlet chain—which dates back to 1934—joined Covenant Group last June, increasing the country's second-largest independent Christian chain's membership by approximately 50%.
Berean also recently contracted for a chain-wide operating systems upgrade for improved business performance and store growth.
Nielsen told Christian Retailing that the Christmas season was "strong overall" for Berean stores.
"This was the result in large part due to strong Thanksgiving results and the last half of December, which was very strong as well," he said. "We achieved this with less price-discounting than in prior years. Instead, we focused on increasing the number of customers we reached out to overall and then increased the frequency we touched them with a direct mail, emails and mass media.
Christmas season sales were up about 7% compared to 2011, with books, Bibles, videos and gifts the "strongest categories" for Berean, Nielsen added.
"As importantly, we increased our stock levels exponentially to ensure that we maximimzed the customer traffic we had with a greater breadth and depth of product than we had ever had," he said. "As a result, we saw more traffic converted into transaction while also seeing about a 10% increase in the average sales per transactions."