Sheridan USA takes tiered tact
By Michele SanFilippo -- Home Textiles Today, 9/8/2003 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
The challenge: redefine a well-known brand and make it stand for something. The plan: come out with competitive pricing on bed-in-a-bags, comforter sets and jacquards. Armed with these objectives, Sheridan USA has been feverishly developing a good/better/best strategy to help it redefine a brand that has lost its way over the last four to five years.
"Bringing value to the brand is our mission with a good/better/best strategy to make the brand more visible and more important to retailers," said Bob Gehm, who recently took the helm as president of Sheridan USA. He added that 60-year-old Sheridan Australia offers the U.S. operation a rich history and background as well as operations in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and a growing presence in Europe and Asia.
The license for Sheridan Australia in the United States, Canada and Mexico is owned by the Lajat Group, a vertical state-of-the-art textiles mill in Torreon, Mexico, that supplies private-label programs to major U.S. retailers. "Our connection to Lajat gives us a competitive advantage in terms of turnaround time and vertical operations that should assist our growth," Gehm told HTT.
Sheridan products at the "good" end of the spectrum, such as printed bed-in-a-bags, would retail for $89 to $129, while value-added jacquards and wovens in comforter sets in the "better" category would run $149 to $199. At the "best" end, high-end comforter sets would retail for $299 to $349.
Lajat will play a vital role in producing much of Sheridan's "good" bed-in-a-bags. Lajat gives Sheridan USA flexibility with printing, Gehm said. Lajat also has the capacity to cut and sew better jacquard fabrics and ship them out of Mexico with a maximum turnaround time of a week. "It's almost like having a U.S.-based manufacturing facility at more competitive pricing," he said.
Gehm explained that in the past Sheridan was primarily competing against the high end of the distribution chain at luxury price points, but its value proposition didn't successfully work within that very narrow niche. Gehm is hoping to launch Sheridan's products with retailers that have some cachet to help build demand for the brand again.
"In the 'good' part of our strategy, we are going to take [Sheridan's] top-10 selling print designs of all time and offer them as bed-in-a-bags," he said. "These are classic designs that are transitional over time and should be able to sell well at value price points." Some of the designs include Damascus, Blanche, Forest Walk, Provencal and Duomo.
To execute the "better" part of the strategy, Sheridan will be doing some work with its Australian design team but will primarily rely on its own development. The company expects to have some products to show in this category during this month's New York Home Textiles Market.
The "best" part of the strategy, which will consist of about 12 to 14 new designs such as Hojas, Marseilles and Safi, will be developed in conjunction with Australia in time for market. "We are looking to retain the quality standards that Sheridan is known for but to bring prices down to more competitive levels to better fit the designer brand business," said Gehm.
This component of the line will feature all the better fabrics and embellishments found at the $299 to $349 price point. Sheridan will also add 17-inch pockets to fit thicker mattresses, creating size-specific comforter set packaging and moving to 250-count cotton sateen sheets
In addition, the company is offering a solid color 230-cotton sateen sheet program in a palette of six to eight colors known as Limoges, as well as Classifications, its line of pillow shams, bedskirts and decorative pillows all coordinating with top-of-bed designs in this same palette.
"We want to compete at all levels with our brand and believe we can become a competitive force in the industry by spring," said Gehm.
To mirror its projected growth and brand development, the company will ramp up its New York sales and marketing force as well as its logistical staff in Greenville, SC, in the next few months.
Next on the agenda, Sheridan will move into solid-color and embellished towels, bath accessories, beach towels, window treatments and juvenile bedding, all in time for spring market.
"It's an exciting time in the industry because there are a lot of opportunities for suppliers who are nimble and quick and can bring good designs to the table at value-conscious prices," he said. "In a time when a lot of companies are struggling, we're going to have a focused brand that concentrates on good design, value and service and gives customers what they want."
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