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Keeco raises stakes, profile

SAN FRANCISCO — Traditionally a low-profile company — at least as far as brand presence is concerned — Keeco has hired a chief marketing exec to both raise its profile and to develop house brands for sale at multiple retail nameplates.

Keeco's core business is the development of proprietary home textiles programs for specific retail customers, leveraging its overseas sourcing expertise. The Keeco name itself most often appears in the small print on the back of someone else's product, such as Metro Living sheets at Wal-Mart, Martha Stewart Everyday quilts at Kmart and the new B. Smith bedding line at Bed Bath & Beyond.

The company now is looking to build fashion-oriented lines around its stable of replenishment businesses, according to Vince Travani, Keeco's new executive vp, sales and marketing, a new position at the company.

"Keeco makes terrific value-added products and has a very strong price/value position," Travani said. "I would like to develop a brand in- house that we can sell across a few different retailers."

Travani will oversee product development, design, sales and marketing. He was most recently president of Blue Marlin, the upscale sportswear company. Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Levi Strauss in a variety of positions, his final posting as vp of the $1 billion Docker's brand.

Also new to the company is Kim Bronson, formerly of WebVan, who is director of product management. She reports to Greg Wyman, vp, marketing.

Travani's immediate priorities are to sharpen execution and beef up the design department.

"I would like a higher design sensibility," he said. "I think there's a bit of room to get a little more contemporary, to be closer to the cutting edge. I would like us to have the best look in the category."

Keeco will simultaneously focus on building a foundation of licensed goods, he said. To that end, the company has just signed a license with Tracy Porter for product that will roll out in spring 2002.

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