For 14 years, Dunedin-based replace manufacturer Escea has been making and distributing replaces both locally and internationally. But feeling increasingly frustrated with a “missing link” in their business model, Escea knew it needed to take a risk and try something different.
Fireplaces are major purchase and, in the case of Escea gas fires, highly technical. They require specialist expertise and this level of knowledge is hard to sustain in independent retail operations. Short-term seasonal focus, staff changes, multiple products across many areas, and limited time in training meant that Escea was struggling to ensure the retail experience matched the Escea brand values.
What Escea needed was a sophisticated place to take clients to experience a range of fireplaces.
Teaming up with seasoned Auckland retailer Malcolm Burton, Escea launched a brand new retail franchise – Stoke Fireplace Studio.
Its purpose was to elevate the purchase of the home fireplace to the level of a key piece of art. The fireplace needed to be viewed as an aesthetic improvement to the home rather than as a mere functional warming device.
The specialist fireplace showroom offers an end-to-end service second to none, with expert staff and the best products on offer in an inspiring and design-driven space.
Escea developed a strong and consistent brand identity, driven by customer insights it had gained as a fireplace manufacturer. Escea’s fireplace designer, Alex Hodge, designed the retail space, which was introduced to the market at a successful launch party.
With a campaign that included digital, PR, print, social, direct mail and TV sponsorship activities, Escea launched the Stoke Fireplace Studio brand into the Auckland market.
In less than 12 months, Stoke has established itself as the go-to destination for architects and design enthusiasts.
Escea managed to do this with a modest marketing budget and no external marketing agency (other than for the initial brand development).
The result is an honest, authentic, retail brand hitting its strides in less than a year. The success exceeded first-year expectations and there are no signs of this growth slowing.