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The Northwest Co. Wins Award for Sports Program

Throw, quilt, bedding, decorative pillow and rug source The Northwest Co. earned an award during the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association's Licensing International Expo 2009 event in Las Vegas last month.

The company, a home textiles supplier for more than 20 years, took home the "Best Sports & Sports-Themed Entertainment Brand Licensed — Soft Goods" award for its program with Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC).

Northwest's Ross Auerbach, president and ceo, and Stanley Mieszkowski, evp of sales and marketing, together accepted the award, which was presented by Robert Strand, a member of the board of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association (LIMA).

"Northwest's winning this time was well deserved — they do outstanding work," Strand told HTT. "Of those people activating sports licensing products, The Northwest Company was the best."

Mieszkowski explained that Northwest's Collegiate Sports program for the back-to-school 2008 season was a 20-foot presentation at Wal-Mart, and it comprised a variety of back-to-school home furnishings.

Northwest has been the brand's licensee for the past 14 years — which happens to also be as long as the company has been a member of LIMA.

But what made the program for 2008's back-to-school Wal-Mart line more impactful than in years past was an expanded product assortment.

The program's anchor products include: 50-inch-by-60-inch microfiber throws; comforter sets; poly-cotton blended sheet sets; embroidered bath towels; trash cans; assorted decorative pillows; and 2-by-3 polypropylene accent rugs.

The new categories added to the mix for the 2008 program included: pop-up hampers; new decorative pillow styles; shower curtains; and shower curtain rings.

Northwest creates collections for 80 colleges nationwide, and Walmart carries them at units with proximity to those schools, making it a localized effort.

"It's a very large program, both in number of stores and in assortment of products," Mieszkowski said.

Northwest has been nominated twice in the past for similar LIMA awards. "But this is our first win," he added.

Northwest's award was one of 16 "International Licensing Excellence" awards that LIMA presented at this year's event. Aside from the Sports category, there are six other categories of awards — Art, Character, Corporate, Film/Television/Entertainment, Promotion and Retail — as well as Best Overall Program award.

Nominations for these awards were solicited from across the licensing industry and winners were chosen by a vote of the LIMA membership. Each winner received an etched-glass trophy donning the LIMA logo.

The Collegiate Licensing Company is one of many licensing partners for Northwest. Others include: the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, Nascar, Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Bros., and Mattel.

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