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03/15/2018 | 12:48pm CET

The addition of the Chef Central at the Fashion Center store is creating sights not usually found in a mega retailer.

What happens when you combine a beloved independent cooking store, Chef Central, with Bed Bath & Beyond, the country's largest housewares chain? Bed Bath & Beyond is hoping it's a recipe for a new kind of retail, and it is using one of its two Paramus stores as a test kitchen.

Chef Central and Bed Bath & Beyond began building a 9,000-square-foot Chef Central space inside the home goods store in the Fashion Center, on Route 17 north, last fall. Now they are ready for the full launch of the new concept, with a kitchen ready for cooking demonstrations, and celebrity chefs lined up to make appearances.

The addition of the Chef Central at the Fashion Center store is creating sights not usually found in a mega retailer. Customers can be seen hugging employees like they were long lost friends, and the top Chef Central executive can be spotted scurrying around to help a shopper find a can opener. That same executive has his desk and office on the sales floor.

The executive, Chef Central founder Ron Eisenberg, describes Chef Central as "a cooking enthusiast's dream" and said the Paramus test is part of an experiment by Bed Bath & Beyond to gauge how a specialty cookware store does within the larger store.

Chef Central opened as an independent store in the Paramus Towne Square strip mall in 1999 and closed 18 years later, at the end of 2016. In February of last year, Bed Bath & Beyond purchased the Chef Central brand for $1 million and announced it planned to open Chef Central departments in its stores.

Stan Erhlich of Fair Lawn, a fan of the former Chef Central who was shopping at the new store-within-a-store on Tuesday, called it a home cook's dream store. "I go crazy here," he said, showing off his find of the day, a $5.99 combination lemon squeezer and lemon half storage container.

"I love to cook," Ehrlich said. "I probably shouldn't be allowed in here, because I can't walk out without spending money."

While it was operated independently for 18 years, Chef Central has always had a family tie to Bed Bath & Beyond. Eisenberg is the son of Bed Bath & Beyond co-founder Warren Eisenberg. Ron Eisenberg also worked as a district manager for Bed Bath & Beyond before opening Chef Central.

In addition to the family connection, Bed Bath & Beyond had a strategic reason to acquire Chef Central.

"They've been trying to find new ways to engage their customers on more occasions, and through more life stages," said Mike Duff, senior editor of the trade publication HomeWorld Business.

Bed Bath & Beyond has been slowly incorporating a number of its acquisitions into its stores, including the Harmon cosmetic chain, which operates departments within Bed Bath stores, and Cost Plus World Markets, which has led to the addition of specialty food departments in Bed Bath stores.

The Chef Central addition gives Bed Bath an opportunity to appeal to what Duff calls the "conspicuous cook" niche -- people who spend thousands on their kitchens and like to entertain there. "That person may be looking for a more professional type of cookware," he said.

In the Fashion Center store, the former kitchen department has been replaced by the Chef Central space. Chef Central was given control of the merchandise selection, but it made sure it kept favorite Bed Bath & Beyond kitchen items as it added Chef Central products, Ron Eisenberg said.

'Like seeing old friends'

The initial response to the Chef Central test has been positive, he said. Particularly rewarding, he said, has been the reaction from former customers who have discovered the reborn Chef Central.

"It's like we're seeing old friends every day," Eisenberg said. Some customers know about the new store and are seeking it out, he said, while others discover it by chance.

Chef Central has hired an in-house chef, Jenna Eden Leder, who has worked for the Waldorf Astoria and other landmark locations in Manhattan. The first store event, scheduled for March 24, is a book signing by Jennifer Clair. On May 2, Steven Raichlen, star of the PBS TV shows "Primal Grill" and "Barbecue University," will be at the store.

Cooking demonstrations, food tastings and other events will all be free and are designed to draw more shoppers to the store, and to the Chef Central department, Eisenberg said.

The store is also offering a service that was very popular in its original location - knife sharpening. The store charges $8 per blade and does the sharpening on site. Knives can be dropped off and are ready for pickup within three days.

The Fashion Center location will help Bed Bath & Beyond learn how, and if, the Chef Central concept can be expanded to more stores.

Part of his learning process involves a strategy Eisenberg used at the former Chef Central. His desk and computer are on the sales floor, surrounded by merchandise.

Shoppers, most of whom don't know he is the Chef Central founder, often marvel at how helpful that man with the glasses and blue denim apron was. And Eisenberg says the customers are equally helpful.

"You'd be amazed at what you can learn and pick up from what the customers are saying to each other, or what they ask for," he said.

Email: [email protected]

The addition of the Chef Central at the Fashion Center store is creating sights not usually found in a mega retailer.

© (c) 2018 Town News, North Jersey Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved., source Newspapers

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Financials ($)
Sales 2018 12 293 M
EBIT 2018 745 M
Net income 2018 421 M
Debt 2018 1 010 M
Yield 2018 2,38%
P/E ratio 2018 7,41
P/E ratio 2019 7,99
EV / Sales 2018 0,34x
EV / Sales 2019 0,35x
Capitalization 3 187 M
Duration : Period :
Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Technical Analysis Chart | BBBY | US0758961009 | 4-Traders
Technical analysis trends BED BATH & BEYOND INC.
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 23
Average target price 22,6 $
Spread / Average Target 1,8%
EPS Revisions
Steven H. Temares Chief Executive Officer & Director
Arthur Stark President & Chief Merchandising Officer
Leonard Feinstein Co-Chairman
Warren Eisenberg Co-Chairman
Eugene A. Castagna Chief Operating Officer
Sector and Competitors
1st jan.Capitalization (M$)
BED BATH & BEYOND INC.-0.55%3 187
MAISONS DU MONDE-20.16%1 723
AT HOME GROUP INC-4.41%1 704
RH-9.02%1 631