At Home is a leading home décor superstore focused on providing the broadest assortment of everyday and seasonal products for any room, in any style, for any budget. The company utilizes its larger store footprint to offer over 50,000 unique items across product categories that include furniture, garden, home textiles, housewares, tabletop and wall décor. At Home’s merchandising team works to identify popular product and style trends and creates similar products at attractive price points for its customers. The global pandemic has been a benefit for all home-based retailers, but At Home had a 21% revenue CAGR and a 17% EBITDA CAGR in the 5 years before 2020. The strong revenue and EBITDA growth CAGR is the result of the company’s everyday low-price strategy, which was further demonstrated by a like-for-like basket of nine popular home décor items from At Home being priced 30% lower than Amazon.
The company is in the early stages of its formal sustainability journey, but its corporate culture has always been defined by doing the right thing. At Home’s mission is to enable everyone to affordably make their house a home, and a key component of its price leadership is the company’s retail strategy. When looking to add new retail locations, the company often aims to repurpose existing retail properties, which allows for faster and more efficient store openings. Beyond a lower cost of acquisition, this strategy also reduces the environmental impact through reduced demolition waste, carbon emissions and air and water pollution. The repurposing of retail real estate also helps improve the social fabric and economic development of the communities in which At Home operates. Over the last 3 years, over 80% of new store openings were existing retail locations, resulting in a total of 7 million square feet of recycled retail space.
Energy efficiency has been identified as a key opportunity for At Home along its ESG journey, and the company has committed to upgrading the energy management systems in all retail stores. The new systems will allow the company to manage energy use across the organization in real time, resulting in cost savings and resource conservation. At Home has also focused on replacing the lighting used in its parking lots with LED lights, which results in a 50% reduction in energy use. Diversity, equity and inclusion have been a focus of the company for some time and starts at the top with women making up 44% of the board of directors and 49% of store directors and managers. Over the last year, the company has expanded its efforts in this area through training and listening sessions that allow employees to provide management feedback on the strengths and opportunities within the corporate culture around diversity, inclusivity, and equality. The company has also recently hired a new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion dedicated to developing and supporting DE&I initiatives and culture.
Consistent with the company’s focus on the home and affordability, At Home partners with Habitat for Humanity to promote self-reliance through home ownership. The company has donated a total of $1.6 million to the organization since 2016 and runs periodic campaigns that call for the company to make donations related to certain product purchases and for customers to make donations at checkout. Pre-pandemic, At Home coordinated Habitat for Humanity home build opportunities for both team members and Insider Perks loyalty members. The company promotes additional community involvement by providing paid time off to all team members, regardless of salaried or hourly status, to volunteer in their communities. At Home also partners with other community organizations that include Step Up, Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, Sunshine Spaces, and PISD Adult Translation Center. Despite being early in its ESG journey, At Home is an excellent example of how sustainability can have a positive impact on its communities and its bottom line.
By Marcus Moore
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Zeo Capital Advisors is a fundamental investment manager with a short-duration credit mutual fund, a sustainable high yield mutual fund and separately managed accounts. Marcus Moore authored this piece and is the Assistant Portfolio Manager and Senior Credit Analyst at Zeo Capital Advisors. For more information contact Zeo directly at 415-875-5604 or visit www.zeo.com.
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