New Park B. Smith comes together as one
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 4/8/2002 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
After 18 months as a combined company, Park B. Smith and Smith & Johnson are moving toward a unified theme across all product categories.
The company, under the Park B. Smith banner, has been trying to identify which pieces of each unit's business will lead the product categories. "We're all about comfort, the relaxed resort look," explained Park B. Smith, Jr., president and ceo of the company. "It's what people are talking about today and what each of our companies has been all about from the start," he said, referring to his father Park B. Smith Sr.'s company that focuses on eco-fabrics and constructions developed in India.
Both companies approach product in a similar way, said Linda Johnson, coo. "We're about listening and discernment and gut reactions to things. We also look at markdowns and needs from our customers and the rest of the market, which tells us what consumers want and don't want."
"We also do a tremendous amount of reading, and we listen to the industry's mom-and-pop retailers that hear what consumers want every day," Smith Jr. said. In addition, he noted, "there are more business studies available, retailers are sharing more information and we identify people who know what's happening."
Bringing the two companies together forced an analysis of which was what and what would prevail. "Smith & Johnson definitely was bedding and it didn't compete," said Smith Jr. The look was more boutique "and PBS is definitely Eco [-ordinates]. Now Eco will be the core PBS statement, and all other bedding will move to the S&J brand," he noted. S&J is known for pushing the envelope in better bedding, he added.
Overall, Johnson said, "we cater to a multi-generational consumer from the new apartment dweller to the older consumer." But the Spa collection approach for S&J and Eco-ordinates with vegetable dyes travel parallel paths, "and the whole thought process evolves around quality."
As the home textiles marketplace has changed, "we've become more of a custom house," Smith Jr. said. "We've had to adapt to the trend of retail exclusivity." Underlying everything, he said "is we have to say no to certain things. There has to be a level of parity when it comes to business today, like rebates, guarantee sales, allowances and all the rest. We're in the fashion business, and we approach retailers on a fashion basis and then pick up on the basics."
The most important thing, Smith Jr. said, "is that we don't want to be in the commodity business — even when it comes to exclusives."
As the two product lines evolve, this season's entries will see charcoal and amethyst as key fashion colors moving through bedding, windows, bath, kitchen and rugs, Johnson said. Other important colors are sage, linen, taupe and rust as well as a brilliant red.
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