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Jia Li steps up U.S. retail push

Quilt manufacturer and importer Jia Li Textiles (USA) is entering the next phase of its marketplace expansion with a retail sales push supported with stronger product line presentations and a new expanded showroom.

Part of that effort involved recruiting Towner Lapp, who joined the company as national sales manager last month from his prior post at Tessile. At Jia Li, Lapp reports to Sheng Yi Zhong, president and general manager of the Chinese parent company based in Shanghai.

Lapp is overseeing major accounts as well as working with the company's independent sales reps around the country.

The new approximately 2,500-square-foot showroom, down the hall from its current space on the seventh floor of 261 Fifth Avenue, will nearly triple the company's current space. It will enable Jia Li to double the number of dressed beds as well as provide additional office and meeting room space, Lapp said. The showroom will open in time for the early fall market in September.

Jia Li established its presence selling directly to U.S. retailers as its own brand about three years ago after roughly 20 years as a sub-contractor to U.S. vendors.

"The company is really well-known for its quality work and [on-time] deliveries," Lapp said. "We have an extensive line of patchwork [quilts and bedspreads] and cover a broad range of price points — from $29.99, which is a huge part of the promotional business, to the better embroidered goods, a full/queen at $149.99. We cover the full gamut in those categories."

The company also has a diversified customer base ranging from mass merchants to department and specialty stores. "We're expanding in all channels," he said.

Jia Li's sales efforts are supported by the company's Piscataway, NJ, distribution center, which works in tandem with its direct shipments to retailers to ensure consistent in-stock positions.

"I think we're all trying to find the next product that retailers are going to jump at and say, 'I have to have that," Lapp said. "But our world is very narrow. The [challenge] is to find what you can do with a quilt that's going to be so much different. Quilts evolved around patchwork. Now an extension to that has become embroidery or appliqué, and now vendors and retailers are looking for different fabrications."

Design director Sharon Shields typically produces 70 to 100 new designs for market. Most of those — even if not immediately produced — remain active, rolling over into the company's design catalogs, she said

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