Home Economy Home improvement retailer gets ‘fresh paint’

Home improvement retailer gets ‘fresh paint’

Ring's End

New paint can do wonders for room – and apparently for a home improvement retailer’s net sales, too.

By focusing on paint sales, Darien-based Ring’s End has been able to survive and thrive in the current economic climate.

Like many retailers serving the construction industry, the company took a big hit during the recession. Selling lumber, millwork and building supplies, sales were down significantly as new construction projects in Connecticut became increasingly rare.

Compared to company revenue at the height of the building boom in 2007, revenue decreased 30 percent in the aftermath of the recession and 70 employees were laid off, said David Campbell, Ring’s End CEO.

But just like a homeowner tired of living in drab surroundings, the company decided it was time for a makeover. It began focusing on paint sales.

Twelve years ago, Ring’s End didn’t sell paint, but now it’s a driving force for the company, Campbell said. While customers may not be building new patios these days, they’re still making smaller home improvements, and painting a room is an inexpensive way to brighten a home. Capitalizing on that, the company now offers free color consulting.

“It’s a strategy to get people in stores to buy other products,” Campbell said. “It’s a way to get people in and keep them. Maybe they’ll buy paint this year and next year come back for a deck.”

Many of Ring End’s consultants have art or home design backgrounds and are able to educate customers on what color schemes work best in various scenarios.

“I’ve seen people come in and buy 10 different colors to paint one room and they can’t get it right,” Campbell said. “People have a hard time imagining what it will look like, so the consultants take the stress out of the process.”

By offering color consulting, the company has increased its paint sales by 50 percent this year and staff levels are the highest in the company’s 110-year history, Campbell said. New paint centers have recently opened in Stamford, Fairfield, Westport and West Haven. In total the company has 14 stores, primarily located within Fairfield County.

Next year Campbell anticipates another 25 percent increase in paint sales.

“We’re in a position that when business comes back, we’ll be in great shape,” he said. The company has a new distribution center and has actively been working on making its processing more efficient as well.

“We didn’t think (the recession) was going to last this long,” Campbell said. “But when it does start turning – and I think it is – we will be very well positioned.”

Editor’s note: Correction made to indicate the West Haven paint center already opened, in September.

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