With a sagging national housing market, many retailers are experiencing tough times, from department stores to home improvement giants. Some specialized chains such as Wickes Furniture and Bombay Co. have even gone out of business. For the time being, Crate and Barrel is weathering the economic storm, and its newly minted CEO hopes to capitalize on going green.
The current president of Crate and Barrel, Barbara Turf, is scheduled to take over as CEO of the home goods and furniture retailer in May, reports the Chicago Tribune. Gordon Segal, the founder and current CEO, will remain as chair and an advisor.
What's exciting for greens is that Turf says she is committed to expanding the company's lighter footstep. As the Tribune reports, "Walk through the reception area and you will discover Crate's interpretation of what is happening in American culture today: a bamboo nightstand, cotton organic towels, eco-friendly upholstered chairs."
The retailer stopped using packing peanuts in 2006 and has been moving to eco-friendly catalog practices. Last year, it touted more sustainable furniture.
Turf says the company will be introducing more sustainable upholstery and chair frames, using soy- and corn-based foam for cushions, offering recycled glass items and launching many products made from renewable bamboo.
Naturally, Crate and Barrel isn't the only large company going green (or talking about going green) these days, from IBM to Google, UPS, Bank of America and even Wal-Mart. But it is exciting news that a new CEO clearly has the environment on her mind and on her agenda.
It is perhaps telling that despite the slackening economy, Crate and Barrel's sales reportedly rose about 8.5 percent for the fiscal year that ended in January. As is likely the case in the real estate market, it seems going green is indeed good for business. Hopefully, this will result in significant, lasting changes in the way business is done, and not get diluted to the level of window dressing.
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