Michaels wanted to move its HQ in the middle of a pandemic: here’s what happened next

Dallas Business Journal

Jun 28, 2021

By Catherine Leffert 

One night at 10 p.m. in one of his first weeks leading a major arts and crafts company, Michaels CEO Ashley Buchanan called a real estate representative for the company and said he wanted to move headquarters.

“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” they said.

“That’s the perfect time,” he responded.

From initial conversations to a signed agreement in June 2020, the whole leasing process took about three weeks, said Abbey Rowsey, director of asset management and special projects for Accesso, the company’s new landlord. She said in an interview with the Dallas Business Journal when the deal was announced that the timeline was expedited compared to most normal large office leases, which usually take several months.

Buchanan said he originally hoped to get it all settled in two weeks.

The company’s new home base, a 123,740-square-foot building in Las Colinas, is less than two miles from its previous headquarters, and will officially open to staff in August.

Buchanan said he wanted the headquarters to represent where the company was going, which he had outlined with a four-pillar strategy. Key to his vision is creativity and openness, which he said the former office didn’t represent. He added it was also important the company stayed in Irving, so as not to disrupt employees and its history in the city.

The new offices offer an open floor plan, a full cafeteria and three floors of desks, conference rooms and art installations of customer work.

Michaels’ headquarters is a downsize from its previous space, with about 40 percent less square footage. About 1,000 employees will work in the office space when it officially opens at the end of the summer. In a statement to the Business Journal last June, Michaels said consolidation, modernization and collaboration were major factors in its decision to move.

The new headquarters, which the company calls its store support center, is also an early step in a massive physical renovation for the brand, as it revamps all 1,250 stores over the next two to three years. As the company edits product supply and organization systems, Michaels will also offer stations for customers to test materials, redesign its store layout and add in-store classes and experiences — all with a new modern and clean aesthetic.

Michaels CEO, Ashley Buchanan, in front of the headquarters main foyer, featuring art installations.

Buchanan said he wants to build an “ecosystem of arts and crafts,” and that the store and office have to both reflect that idea.

“I needed the home office to inspire people. I wanted the home office to reflect where we were taking the company from a brand perspective,” Buchanan said “I wanted it to reflect where I wanted the marketing to go.”

The new headquarters is one of many major changes the retail company has weathered over the past year. Since Buchanan took the reins last spring, he’s made executive leadership shifts with a new CFO, COO of stores and chief human resources officer, among others. Michaels was also bought by Apollo Global Management in a $5 billion deal that took the company private in April.