View from the castle
By Jennifer Marks, editor-in-chief -- Home Textiles Today, 7/26/2004 12:00:00 AM
It's that time of year — when we see to what extent the kings of the industry have consolidated their kingdoms, as well as which chieftains are losing their grip.
As always, the big have gotten bigger; the retailers with the most aggressive store opening programs tend to log bigger gains than those who add onesies and twosies; and retailers offering full-room concepts continue to grab home textiles share. Still, a few things leap out:
Even the leastest of the biggest are getting bigger. News that the Top 5 retailers own even more of the $23.1 billion home textiles universe than they did previously — 54 percent in 2003, up from 52 percent in 2002 — may make anyone who's not in that august body want to toss his lunch. But even those at the tail of the Top 50 are making gains. The No. 50 retailer in last year's survey — Restoration Hardware — made it onto the ranking with $66 million in home textiles sales. This year's smallest retail ranker — SureFit's direct-to-consumer division — bested that by $10 million. (Restoration Hardware, by the way, boosted its textiles sales by more than 33 percent and jumped four spots up the ladder.)
Anna's ascent: Two years ago, as Anna's Linens began turning up the heat on its expansion, founder Alan Gladstone predicted the company would leapfrog into a spot somewhere between No. 33 and No. 35 for this year's report. At the time, Anna's didn't rank at all. This year, it catapulted from No. 40 to No. 24 — the biggest bump in the listing. Even if its sales growth in home textiles is only half as much this year as the 40.9 percent it churned out last year, Anna's will spring forward again — into the Top 20.
JCPenney's rebound: Since Wal-Mart eked past JCPenney by $46 million in 2000 to capture the top spot, it has steadily lengthened its lead, and by the close of 2002, its home textiles sales outpaced Penney's by more than $500 million. That trend hit a wall last year. Penney ramped up its engines and finished behind Wal-Mart by just $110 million in this year's survey. Penney execs have said they're more interested in creating the strongest total home business in the country than in outpacing Wal-Mart sales in individual classifications. But when Penney finally starts opening more than a handful of new stores again, it may have the chance to do both.
To be sure, some wild card races will be brewing across the remainder of this year. The speculative Sears/Kmart merger would create a new Top 5 entity. The consolidation over the coming months of Macy's home into one operation will also shake up the roster. And No. 50 SureFit, which is reportedly in talks with a potential buyer, could finish the year as a completely different animal.
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