Restructuring for the Better

After more than 50 years of fabric retail, wholesale, and distribution, Larry’s Curtain and Upholstery Supply, Inc. experienced a ground-breaking change. With the family business booming and each member of the new generation wanting to try something different, the logical solution was to divide the branches and completely restructure them under new management – thus, Spectrum by Larry’s was born.

Established in October 2014 by Herbert and Belina Ong, the concept came about after they decided that Larry’s Curtain needed a “facelift.” The process entailed a new brand name, different logo and products that would cater to a bigger market. Their goal was to increase and diversify their items so they could offer not just curtain and upholstery fabrics, but everything from quality furniture to home accessories as well.

Only Restructure, Rebrand, and Expand If It's for the Better

Naturally, there were ups and downs that came with the process. We sat down with Belina Ong, Chief Operating Officer of Spectrum’s BGC branch, and discussed the before, during and after of the rebranding of Larry's Curtain to Spectrum by Larry's.

Larry’s Curtain and Upholstery Supply, Inc. was established by Herbert’s father Larry. The company began with fabrics and various window treatments before adding furniture pieces to their line about ten years ago. They had branches across Metro Manila and Cebu, all under the one name, but the next generation – Herbert and his brothers – wanted to take the business to different directions.

“What happened before is [for example,] you want to sell this, but the others are not agreeable because they have a different market … so we could not come up with a majority wherein, ‘Everyone wants this,’ because every branch has its own market,” Belina describes. Thus, the existing branches were divided among the siblings and restructured under new names and management. This was beneficial for everyone, since each branch now has its own market, management, and merchandising freedom.

In the case of Spectrum, they started with the name. They knew that if they wanted to expand their products, the words curtains and upholstery weren’t enough to fit the line and might mislead their customers. The new brand had to connect to the business’ products, which is why they decided to use spectrum – a word which means an array of entities, much like the various products Spectrum by Larry’s offers. She also adds, “We had to come up with a name that is easy to remember, easy to pronounce, and if it’s put into a font, it’s going to look attractive.”

In regard to styling the logo, they went for a more modern look, seeing that their market was embracing a more updated style for home furnishings and accessories. The modern design also helps separate them from the original Larry’s Curtain brand, alerting their customers to the new development.

They’ve modernized the brand further by finding a niche in the digital world, with their brand website, Facebook page and Instagram account informing the market about their restructure, showcasing their new products, and promoting everything else they have in store. This is a far cry from where Larry’s Curtains was, and a big step towards embracing the highly technological new generation.

But speaking of informing the market, Belina shares that that might have been the biggest challenge they faced throughout the rebrand. She describes how some clients, especially older patrons, confuse Spectrum with other Larry’s Curtains spin-off brands, not understanding that they are all under separate managements.

“It’s a difficult process for us to let people know that we’re not Larry’s anymore, we’re Spectrum now,” she admits. “I think more than a year after Spectrum started, people still say that [our products are] from Larry’s. So we really have to make the effort to say that, ‘No, we changed our name; it’s already Spectrum by Larry’s.’”

To counter this, she tries to accustom people to the idea of separate brands by sponsoring events, reaching out to customers via advertising, and informing them of the brand change. This way, the company is also able to manage expectations and better cater to its market.

Nowadays, Herbert and Belina (and occasionally even their kids) meet with local and international merchants for fabrics, furniture and accessories, test the products themselves and resell them in their Makati, BGC and Ortigas branches. They enjoy having different products that mix and match, and offer many renowned brands. That’s a big step forward from what they used to do, and they couldn’t be more proud of it. Belina shares that this is what makes them unique not just from other Larry’s spin-offs, but even from various brands in the furniture industry.

“You have to make it better, or else what’s the use of the expansion and the changing of the brand? People will say, ‘It’s deteriorated, it’s not nice anymore,’” she shares. “So the challenge there would be giving the market more choices, better choices, and trying to adapt to what people want.”

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