By Carole Sloan, founding editor-in-chief -- Home Textiles Today, 3/26/2004 12:00:00 AM
As one major supplier said, this is probably the most exciting time to be in the home textiles business.
As market begins, the industry is confronted with an extraordinary proliferation of brands, so-called brands, deceased brands and then just plain names.
Simultaneously, the industry is facing all the factors that come with offshore sourcing. Beyond quality and delivery issues is the lack of understanding on the part of American customers — both retailers and suppliers — and their offshore suppliers about U.S.-mandated regulations.
These run the gamut from child labor laws, health and environmental laws, labor scenarios, anti-dumping claims, suspect quality and construction standards, and soon-to-happen flammability regs.
American labor and supplier bases across myriad business are becoming more aggressive about these issues and taking their claims to international forums.
As critical as these issues are, there's stuff closer to home for home textiles folks. The radical changes announced last month by Federated, and put in place this week with specific appointments to its newly formed corporate Macy Home Store, will reverberate for some time to come. Execution of the plan, rather than the plan itself will be key. The outcome is … ?
Then, we have the thorny issue of deflation. It's prevalent across virtually all consumer product segments. But a bath towel that was a best seller at $9.99 a couple of years back, now is pegged at $5.99 or lower. Sheet prices are remarkably and significantly lower — by as much as 30 to 40 percent compared with prices a decade ago.
What folks haven't really addressed is that there's little way of selling 20 to 30 percent more units to equal the dollar value of the deflation factor. But even more important is the cost factor at both the supplier and store levels. There's cost in delivery of more units, moving the units through the retail system, the cost of the people needed to move the stuff and on and on with more cost. The bottom line really has not been identified.
And these are just three of the major, critical issues. We haven't addressed replenishment, distribution channels and more.
Again, welcome to what should be a market with lots of "beyond color" discussions.
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