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Arrow shifts direction with better-quality focus

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, December 2, 2002

Keeping pace with a rapidly changing marketplace, Arrow Home Fashions is expanding the range of products it offers with a line of higher-end, better-quality goods and accessories.

Already established as a provider of polyester/cotton bedding in thread counts topping out at 200, Arrow, a division of Arrow Industries, has broadened its design sense over the course of the last two Home Textiles Markets. Chenilles, piece-dyed and yarn-dyed jacquards, embroidered denims and sateen sheets have all been added, as has a fully reversible micro-fiber ensemble, targeting consumers who are interested in high-end luxury looks. Arrow also offers a selection of juvenile and tweener patterns.

"We have developed a new strategy," Rich Sperber, vp of sales and marketing, told HTT. "We want to develop products that allow the moderate consumer to enjoy high-quality fashionable bedding at a price point that they can afford. There are high-end suppliers offering beautiful products in which the comforter alone retails at $249.99. We will offer products of equal quality. Our difference is that we can give the consumer the whole bed-in-a-bag with a 100 percent cotton, 250-count, deep pocket sheet for the same retail. Our [retail] customer can provide that value and realize great margin."

Arrow primarily had targeted the $49.99 to $79.99 retail price points for a bed-in-a-bag. Its new focus is the $199 to $249 range, which includes both oversized and jumbo specs. Coordinating soft window treatments, decorative pillows, comforter covers, mini comforter sets, comforter sets, bedspreads and sheet sets have all joined what was for many years primarily a bed-in-a-bag business.

Keeping in line with the luxury looks many consumers desire, large cording and braiding, overfilled comforters with sateen backing, padded shams and bedskirts with 15-inch drops and split corners have all been added.

A generic sheet has also been created for the new bed-in-a-bags. Constructed from 100 percent cotton sateen, the 250-count sheeting coordinates with the individual pattern and features a flat sheet with an attached hem with hemstitching and a fitted sheet able to fit up to a 17-inch mattress. Higher thread-count constructions are also possible, but Sperber said Arrow would only go after that business if it fits within the new model.

Arrow's facilities also enable it to manufacture and blow its own fill, so the amount and loft may be regulated according to the price point the company is aiming to hit.

Sperber is hoping to add specialty stores to its current roster of department stores and catalogues.

Despite the changes in design and offering, Sperber emphasized that Arrow will not abandon its poly/cotton business, which he said is still generating sales. Instead, he said, Arrow was only utilizing its manufacturing capabilities, which include a 200,000-square-foot main office/cut-and-sew operation, to make "better stuff."

Sperber credited Monica Graves, Arrow's designer who also has experience in apparel design, with much of the change in design direction.

The reaction to Arrow's change, Sperber related, was initially tentative, as the company first had to explain to retailers that its accessory-driven approach would result in better margins. Secondly, Arrow had to prove that its new design direction was consistent with the looks consumers wanted. After the most recent home textiles market, its second with the new styles and constructions, Sperber said, "They've embraced us very quickly."

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