|Traded as||NASDAQ: LECH|
|Founded||1975Rockaway, New Jerseyin|
|Headquarters||Harrison, New Jersey|
Number of locations
Famous Brands Housewares Outlet|
Costless Home Store
|Website||Lechters website at the Wayback Machine (archived November 4, 1999)|
Lechters Housewares was a national chain of kitchen-supply stores in the United States, based in Harrison, New Jersey. Many of its stores were in malls. Its store-brand products used the name Cooks Club. It owned the Costless Home Store and Famous Brands Housewares Outlet chains.
In 1975, the firm was started by Albert Lechter as a company that ran housewares departments located in leased space within New Jersey discount stores. Two years later, Lechter teamed up with Donald Jonas to change the business by opening a single stand-alone kitchenware speciality store in a Rockaway, New Jersey shopping mall. By 1988, the firm had 234 stores. The company went public in 1989. In 1992, the firm grew to 455 stores in 37 states and finally 490 stores in 41 states by the end of 2000. In later years, the company tried to compete with houseware superstores such as Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things by expanding rapidly beyond its original kitchenware specialty, a move which created a cash flow problem and contributed to company's downfall.
- "Where Impulse Buying Hasn't Died". New York Times. 1992-09-26.
- "Lechters to Close 166 Stores, Cut 725 Jobs". Los Angeles Times. 2001-02-10.
- Williams, Monte (2001-02-10). "Citing a Failed Bid to Change, Lechters Will Close 166 Stores". New York Times.
- Lasseter, Diana G. (February 7, 1996). "A rescue plan goes bad". Business News New Jersey. p. 1.
Lechters has long been a name synonymous with housewares, particularly kitchen gadgets like fancy pasta forks and paring knives. The company was founded by Al Lechter in 1975 to operate leased houseware and giftware departments in discount department stores. Two years later, with the help of Jonas, the business began operating specialty houseware stores in malls, the first one opening in Rockaway. Throughout the 1980s, Jonas and Lechter continued to open stores, and by 1989, when they took the company public, they had more than 200. Wall Street welcomed Lechters enthusiastically. "At the beginning of Lechters' big business expansion in 1990," explains analyst Otto Grote of Derby Securities in New York City, "this stock was really hot." After Lechters went public, expansion became a priority. In January 1990, the company operated 297 stores. By the end of fiscal 1993, the number had grown to 567. As Lechters branched out, revenues skyrocketed but profit margins were thin. Same-store sales from one year to the next were growing by only small percentages, and the merchandise mix was not evolving. Sales began to stagnate during 1992, and the stock price weakened. As a result, management began to make changes. Lechters departed from its exclusively kitchen concept to an all-encompassing home store that included merchandise like silk flowers and picture frames. It also opened superstores to compete with big guys like Springfield's Bed, Bath & Beyond. In doing so, Lechters lost its focus. At the end of its 1993 fiscal year, the company posted earnings of $11.1 million, down from $15.4 million the year before. Jonas was frustrated by the results. On Jan. 10, 1994 he introduced Kanter as Lechters' new CEO.Link via ProQuest.
- "Lechters Is Seeking Buyer or Liquidation". Los Angeles Times. 2001-09-28.
- "Lechters to Shut Stores, Liquidate". Los Angeles Times. 2001-10-13.
- Duff, Mike (2001-11-05). "Lechters to go OOB; 315 prime locations hang in the balance". DSN Retailing Today. Retrieved 2008-07-24.[dead link]
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