Home Mart

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Case Study

A Case Study of Home Mart


Home Mart, located in the north of Colombia, started as an import company to serve the mining industry. It later became a retail hardware store. As market opportunities presented themselves, it became a chain of stores to meet household needs. In 1990, they opened a total of five stores and the company grew at an accelerated rate.  The accelerated growth brought its own problems and the company had to be reorganized and recapitalized in 2003. The reorganization got the company on the right track, but so many changes were made that it was difficult to grow and obtain positive results. In addition to the internal problems, competition had arrived which started to take away market share. 

A New Beginning

In September of 2005 I was hired to lead the company, I felt the challenge was enormous and I knew I needed help. I contacted Carlos Sabbagh to get his input to organize all my ideas and identify where to begin. 

Home Mart has been one the most transformational experiences that I have ever lived; the ugly duckling became a beautiful swan.

Creation of a New Context

The first thing Carlos did at Home Mart, (which was much different than other consultants who start with sales seminars and business charts and graphs,) was to create a new context...a new way of thinking.  So we began with the essence of our business: Our People. 

Through this different approach we were able to get our leaders to truly understand that the most important thing to get ahead was to treat each other, as well as customers, as human beings. 

Carlos then created daily experiences in the office and in the stores. Each experience was charted by the leaders in their Home Mart learning book. Through these experiences we would explore who we are and what obstacles we had. However, after overcoming our barriers and discomfort, we discovered that the obstacles were indeed just that, and that together we could do things that the team never imagined. 

This experience to create context is not easy. It requires patience and perseverance. In the beginning no one believes it, but when each person discovers that they can do more than they imagined, the mystery starts to yield fruits and power begins to work. We now have a common North, a shared purpose we can easily accomplish our goals.

So, little by little the “Geese Pack*” was created which was in charge of transforming the Ugly Duckling into a wonderful Swan. 

How did we do it?

* Lessons from Geese


The Strategy

We started by re-inventing the meaning of Home Mart and home mart . . . your home was born. To create this new image, it required more than public relations and creative people, it required a different way of seeing the business from several aspects: 

  • We changed from selling products to selling emotions
  • Categories became solutions
  • Home Mart’s warehouse of imports became “you’re the customers’ home”
  • Salespeople became more than consultants, they were hosts and hostesses
  • The customers became more than customers; they became guests in our home who had emotional needs
  • And the traditional promotions became Evenings for the Stars.

And a thousand more ideas sprung up. The objective was to support a strategy to create an intimate and emotional relationship with our guests. As Carlos used to say in a fun way . . . create “emotional orgasms.”  


Home Mart - Before-After 1
Home Mart - Before-After 2
Home Mart - Before-After 3

Strategy Components

To achieve the strategy we rethought the well known categories and created solutions parallel to household needs. The following groups evolved: 

  • Household Complements: To offer solutions for each segment of the home — The living room, the kitchen, the dining room, the bathroom, the closets, the backyard and the laundry room. 
  • Household Support: To offer solutions to the areas of the home such as lighting, ventilation, painting, blinds and small repairs.  
  • Seasonal Solutions: A theme was created in each store for Christmas, Easter, Halloween and Mardi Gras along with the solutions for each season. 

We rethought the groupings and their definitions as well as the products that we would like to carry. We wanted to be specialized in the level of stock offered and very selective in choosing each article. Everything had to represent exclusivity, good taste and innovation to meet the expectation of our guests. 

Parallel to the Solutions re-design, the store was designed to offer a warm and friendly environment that imitated an actual home. We created “Solution Worlds” in which you could enter into “your” living room, “your” dining room, etc. Sales consultant’s had more formal attire to further the image of host and hostess in a home while assisting guests. To reflect the home in a community we designed the traffic flow in the store with a “ring road” or bypass on the periphery of the store floor, a diagonal street, streets and alley ways to make it easy for our guests to navigate and find their solutions.  The metallic shelves were replaced with beautiful wooden furnishings for the exhibition of the solutions. In addition, a lighting analysis was done to create a warm environment and highlight our home mart home. Good taste was to be found in every corner of the store.

The Geese Pack, flying in formation, created a new culture. People’s strengths were highlighted and positive feedback exchanged. The new North gave us room to fall in love with home mart. Every member of the company knew the meaning of a clean parking lot and thousands of details were identified by the team over the course of several months for everyone’s benefit, including our guests.  Our special events, called The Evening for the Stars, began to take shape.  Etiquette and cooking classes were offered and during the holidays the store came alive with the Christmas tree decorations just as in a true home. 

This different culture created a new way of thinking which can be contrasted as follows: 

Old way of thinking

  • Find fault
  • Justifying "Why Not"
  • Staying out of trouble
  • Taking orders
  • Doing what is asked
  • Life is a struggle
  • Working with others
  • What’s necessary
  • What I can get
  • The future is uncertain

Contemporary way of thinking

  • Find solutions
  • Discovering "Why"
  • Taking a stand
  • Discovering needs
  • Adding value
  • Life is an adventure
  • Working with teammates
  • What’s possible
  • What I can give
  • The future is unlimited

Strategy Outcomes

Finally, all these elements began to yield results with our guests. In May of 2006 we opened our newly remodeled store in Barranquilla, Colombia and the outcome was immediately evident. Sales grew, but most importantly the store contribution grew over 45%, reaching levels of earnings that would be an investor’s dream. 

The employees and guests were able to live and feel our new home mart  . . . your home image and to link to positive traits just as shown in the February of 2007 market study.

February 2007 market study

In this same study, we saw with great satisfaction how well the guests perceived this change: the transformation of the Ugly Duckling to the Beautiful Swan.


The history of home mart is divided in two parts: Before and after the remodeling. With the change, the perception of the store evolved favorably.

  • It had the feel of a hardware store.
  • It looked like a warehouse.
  • The environment and the distribution were unpleasant.
  • The store had few products for the home.
  • It is a decoration store.
  • Lots of variety.
  • Pleasant environment and distribution.
  • The entire line reflected good taste.
  • It is clean and organized.
  • It is elegant and exclusive.


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