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S. Lichtenberg Adds Styles, Production Capacity

James Mammarella -- Home Textiles Today, March 9, 2010

Leading with its usual offering of high fashion at value-driven prices, window treatments resource S. Lichtenberg opens for business this market with considerable momentum, both in sales and in product development.

“Our business is fair,” Carl Goldstein, senior vp, told HTT. “Last year was flat to the year before – but keep in mind, two years ago was our second-best year ever.”

Not content to rest in its current comfortable position, S. Lichtenberg is building up its design and manufacturing assets. A factory under construction in the Chinese port city of Qingdao will open this year, he said. This will be the second production plant in China for S. Lichtenberg. Elsewhere, a new photo studio in Shanghai is providing total control over package inserts and related merchandising materials.

Meanwhile in the U.S., Goldstein remarked that he does not see a “strong” consumer retail market this year, “but it will get stronger as the housing market opens up and the recession eases,” with full strength returning by “the third quarter of 2011.”

“I think the home business will continue to be a strong part of the retail business” this year, he said. “In a recessionary period more people will stay home – and the easiest way to re-decorate a room is on the windows.”

“I expect this year to be flat or see maybe a slight increase,” he said of his company's business.

Pricing as a component of the window treatments business has already changed from last year, he said. “We're starting to feel the effects of the higher prices of cotton; some of our offshore suppliers are now asking for increases. In some cases, retailers will have to accept the increases.”

Goldstein emphasized, “Our retail partners know what the marketplace is going through; they understand…if anything, over the last 10 years we've had deflation. If prices go up from China 5%, it's still probably 40% less than it was 10 yrs ago.”

“The values that the consumers have today, they've never had before; they're getting custom goods at readymade prices,” Goldstein observed.

In new product developments for this market, S. Lichtenberg is expanding its energy-conserving blackout program, and also offering new casual looks.

“Energy saving and room darkening window coverings continue to grow in our marketplace,” said Amy Hanlon, vp design. “Lichtenberg has an updated assortment of microfiber thermal options. The microfiber fabric offers consumers a soft hand while the foam-backing provides added benefits of insulation from the heat and cold, reduction of noise, and blocks unwanted light.”

In debuts, S. Lichtenberg is showing two different fashion treatments in the microfiber insulated program: a richly dyed solid program, represented by the Landon style, and textured geometric prints, highlighted by Blake.

“Both styles offer a contemporary option for the consumer who wants the benefits of energy efficient curtains without forgoing style,” Hanlon said.

On the casual/contemporary end of the spectrum, Montego is a menswear-inspired grommet panel. “The solid textured fabric has a soft hand and attractive drape,” said Hanlon. “Grommets have become a staple in the market and offer the consumer an easy way to hang while providing a modern, functional window option.”

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