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  • Cecile Corral

Kay Dee to enter table linens, scatter rugs

HOPE VALLEY, RI -Amid the celebration this year of its 50th anniversary in the kitchen textile industry, Kay Dee Designs is breaking into two new product categories: table linens and scatter rugs.

"Tabletop is a bigger business than kitchen textiles," said Robyn Tracy, manager of marketing and new product development. "In kitchen textiles, you can't reinvent the wheel, you can only come out with patterns. But with tabletop and rugs, we can expand."

She added that it also helps to already have a retail partner committing to new collections, which Kay Dee had before the new programs were in place.

Through a long-standing contract Kay Dee holds with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the manufacturer was encouraged to expand its offerings, partner and co-owner Chuck Donnell said. Kay Dee supplies kitchen textiles to the government agency's commissary globally.

"They came to us and asked us to expand our offerings to them, so we are doing just that," Donnell said. "We've had a very successful partnership with them, so when they needed more from us we felt we should and could do it. And now we know we can in fact do it."

With that new buoyancy, Kay Dee has expanded its offerings not only to the government agency's stores but also hopes to sell into other retail distributors nationwide with new introductions at April market.

New tabletop products, which are stand-alone lines rather than coordinates of the existing kitchen textile collection, include place mats, napkins and napkin rings. The place mats are all made of 100 percent cotton and come in five designs: quilted, reversible fabric, laminated fabric, screen printed and woven. All are made domestically, except the woven place mat, which is imported from India.

"We even have merchandise displays now for the new tabletop line for April market," Tracy said.

The new scatter rug line comprises an anti-fatigue rug made of cushion foam and printed with a heat transfer. The rugs come in only one size. The initial debut includes seven patterns that tie into kitchen lines.

The seven designs include five Kay Dee patterns-Barnyard Rooster, Vintage Grapes, Vintage Teapots, Bella Cucina and Country Birdhouse-as well as two designs from Kay Dee's licensing agreement with The Coca-Cola Co.-Coke Nostalgia and Coke Red Disc. Kay Dee, which originally formed a licensing partnership with The Coca-Cola Co. in 1998, just renewed the agreement for another two years.

"For us, the new rug program was a customer-driven request," Tracy said. "The rugs are more of an extension of our existing lines. The same customers will carry them. We just have to come up with the fixtures and attachments to accommodate them in stores."

Wholesale rug manufacturer Holt Sublimation & Products, based in Burlington, North Carolina, makes the rugs and Kay Dee distributes them to its customers.

Price points for tabletop products and rugs have not been determined yet.

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