After 45 years in business, Lombard The Paper People has undergone a retail brand refresh, naming its party stores as Love Lombard XO.
The chain's party business started in 1989, with the first store opening in Nunwading, Victoria. It now has 19 stores across Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA, along with an online store at lombard.com.au and a wholesale arm.
The business saw 12 per cent sales growth in 2014, with 75 per cent of sales coming from the wholesale arm and 25 per cent from retail.
Lombard's Managing Director Claude Lombard said the future direction for the company's party shops will be shopping strips.
"We've found that DFOs are all new buildings, so the landlord has to get a high rent to maintain borrowings, but shopping strips of main streets anywhere are usually old owners and they don't have the constraint of having mortgages; all they want is a steady income," he said.
The next 12 weeks will see a lot of changes for Love Lombard XO stores in Victoria. A new store will open at Bell St, Preston, existing stores at Moorabbin and Nunawading will be refitted, and the Geelong stores relocated from a DFO at Corio to Geelong CBD.
"We rented an old fully restored Victorian building and we're going to make it the most beautiful shop on the planet. At Christmas time it'll be the window to visit in Geelong," Lombard said.
"Since we've had our eyes opened to shopping strips, we would suggest we will open but will play it by ear. But the gods smile on us and things just happen."
Love Lombard XO party stores range in size from 175 sqms to 100 sqms and stock Lombard's full range of products, including 400 new lines.
"The range is massive, and I think that's part of the secret," Lombard said.
Products include balloons, costumes, tableware, decorations and other party needs under the one roof.
"Our brand refresh is all about a new look, new range and a new shopping experience. With over 400 new lines added will have the largest party range under one roof," he said.
"The party market has changed significantly, but we sincerely believe that we will be the last man standing because it's a very tough market.
"Without huge administration behind the scenes, an independent party shop can never succeed unfortunately because they need the research, the marketing, the product range and the capital.
"We make it look easy, but it's not easy to do."