Focus Key to Bedding Biz
By Cecile B. Corral -- Home Textiles Today, 7/11/2005 12:00:00 AM
New York — —
New York — A number of home textiles suppliers whose primary business is concentrated in non-bedding areas have come to see that category as one that can improve their bottom lines, if pursued with a very narrow focus.
Over the past few years, more than a few suppliers have branched out from their core offerings to include coordinate bedding collections, many at the request of their retail customers.
Most recently, Natco Home — which was first established as a rug company and over the years has added curtains, throws and decorative pillows to its offerings — launched a bedding division in June.
Mail order catalogs and online retailers have become a more important customer base to Arlee Home Fashions, thanks to its recent addition of bedspread-and-sham sets to its line. It comprises twin-through-king sizes in faux fur and faux leather in solid and animal skin patterns.
Last fall, bath and beach towel and kitchen textiles importer Revere Mills showed a small collection of sheets and top-of-bed products for a group of its customers.
In the spring of 2005, rug and carpet supplier Shaw acquired Georgia Tufters, a move that shoed it into the top-of-bed category.
And looking farther back, area rug powerhouse Mohawk Home, longtime decorative pillow company Newport/Layton and family-operated bath and beach towel J.R. United entered bedding as an add-on business, and have seen it grow rapidly, respectively.
“Bedding is our fastest growing category,” said Salo Grosfeld, president, Miami-based J.R. United. His company, founded by his father, Julio, in 1967, has offered sheets it bought as closeout items from the then-many mills. The company sold them to discount stores. With demand quickly rising, the company began importing these coordinate sheet sets “because we couldn't get enough here (from the mills),” Grosfeld said.
But not until five years ago did the company tack on top-of-bed goods to its roster, and three years ago it partnered with Izod for a fashion bedding collection that has helped spur a 40 percent sales gain in the category for the company.
“We've carved a niche through branding and through putting together programs quickly and delivering quickly, as opposed to having to go through some of what these retailers experience with direct importing,” Grosfeld said.
Niche carving is the way for suppliers to go in the bedding business, which has long been a competitive category with many suppliers vying for placement, and in these post-quota days has become a directly sourced product by retailers.
“Design has more and more become the way we can differentiate ourselves and succeed in this business,” explained Corey Faul, president, Newport/Layton, the country's fourth largest decorative pillows supplier with $25 million in 2004 category sales. “It becomes more important as more business goes offshore. Design is really the only way we can separate ourselves.”
Newport has long been a player, albeit to a limited degree, offering category goods to a small group of retailers since the late 1960s. “We dabbled in it in the early days,” Faul explained. Then in the '90s when the company's Newport division for decorative pillows was founded, it integrated duvet covers and some bedding products to its line. In 1999, with the hiring of industry veteran George Whyte, the company got more serious about the bedding category.
“We recognized back then an opportunity and we aligned ourselves with a person that could style, source and sell bedding for us,” he continued. “We put the people in place and gave the financial commitment, and it has paid off. Now bedding makes up about 40 to 45 percent of our business.”
Expanding on its experience, Newport will soon be adding sheets to its bedding offerings, Faul said.
Mohawk Home has called bedding part of its “total home package” since it acquired Crown Crafts' woven products business in 2000. As the category continues to grow for the company, Mohawk is enhancing its offerings. This fall, new products will include new styles of woven bedspreads and new rayon constructions and an updated palette on its matelasse offerings, said Bart Hill, general manager of textiles.
“In top-of-bed, we've had success with our fashion collections,” he continued. “We want to maintain our bedding business because it's a nice addition and a great complement to our business.”
While it sees its new — and narrow — collections of sheets and top-of-bed as “an accommodation for customers,” Revere Mills has nonetheless yielded to the category.
“We're not aggressively pursuing it, but we are doing it now for some customers who have asked us for it,” said Dan Harris, vice president, marketing and product development. “They've asked us because we are honest and do what we say, we ship on time and we have the sourcing capabilities.”
Revere's bedding programs are private label sheet and comforter sets that are made in Pakistan. They serve middle-tier customers.
We would love your feedback!