Dan River on plan with upstairs biz

Marvin Lazaro, September 30, 2002

Despite a difficult economic climate, Dan River Home Fashions says its specialty and department store business is doing relatively well.

The Danville, VA-based major mill's upstairs business is "right on the plan that we put in place a year ago, and our plans weren't flat plans," said Lou Casali, vp of sales, during Dan River's preview of its line for October market.

The preview featured a multitude of new products, many of which drew patterns from the mill's extensive library of prints, which it's able to carry out with relative ease due to high-tech machinery already in place.

According to Casali, Dan River's core competency is still bed-in-a-bag, and its business is growing in better portions of that category. The $80 opening price point bed-in-a-bag and the $200 cotton-enhanced bed-in-a-bag are the twin engines propelling sales this year, Casali said, adding that "there's a business developing underneath that $200 queen/king business." Dan River is "making great strikes" in the top-end Marquis Interiors bed-in-a-bag business — which offers woven and embellished comforters and 250-count Egyptian cotton sheets at a $279 to $299 retail. The collection of $150 and $299 comforter sets has gotten "off the ground running" since their introduction one market ago, he said.

"We must make sure the core business is sound, and we have the right strategies in place for that," Casali told HTT. "We have very good positioning. But, he added, "we don't have a climate that's conducive to accelerated retail sales."

Leading off the preview are the Marquis Estates ensembles, which are marketed as comforter sets with coordinate sheet sets. Rialto features a needlepoint woven technique in shades of adobe and neutral sage tones with plenty of details. Positano has a matelasse look with a dramatic yet soft design in blue and white.

Next are the three bed-in-a-bag ensembles of the Marquis Interiors line. Charlemagne is an engineered needlepoint jacquard in soft neutral tones, while Montage is a very masculine look in gold, black and sable accents with a foulard reverse and filigree detailing. Canterbury is a silk damask stripe in blue with brown accents.

Next up is the Marquis Specialty line of ensembles with four introductions, Logan, Mirelle, Bliss and Coquette. Bliss offer hand trapanto simplistic flowers in tone-on-tone colors.

For its Studio Embellished with 250-count blend sheets, Dan River presented Aubrey, Carolina, Kate's Bouquet Blush and Contessa. Bouquet Blush features double ruffles and eyelet detailing with a floral motif in shades of peachy rose. Aubrey, in blue, features colored embroidery, while Contessa is a documentary floral with a wallpaper stripe reverse. Carolina is an all-over large scale floral on a teal ground.

Jasmine, Prelude, Jefferson, Evening Mist and Lillia are all part of the Studio collection with 220-count cotton sheeting. Jasmine features a hyacinth/iris pattern on a seafoamy gray ground, while an ethereal lily adorns Lillia. Amethyst and lilac tones decorate Evening Mist, while Jefferson is a printed jacquard look in gold with teal accents. Prelude is a floral in smoke blue with all-over geometric coordinates.

The Studio line with 250-count blended sheets offers Alanis, Villeroy, Sonnet, Barrymore and Cassidy. The standout here is Alanis, with a textured solid look in sand and adobe with olive accents.

Studio with 210-count blended sheets offers Opera, Monroe, Phoebe, Romantic Garden and Bellagio. Romantic Garden is an all-over rich floral on a maroon ground, while the masculine Monroe achieves its look thanks to a Bohemian-flavored medallion combined with a distinct paisley. Texture, neutral tones and a simplistic floral adorn the rest of the line.

The Studio 180-count blend presents Henderson, Lucinda, Corsica and Ashford.

The Alexander Julian Home line sheets have been repositioned from a $9.99 opening price point for a twin down to $7.99. According to Casali, the Julian business is very strong and the demand has been better than expected. New for the focus on the top-of-bed are two woven yarn-dyes, Vista and Brookline, and a woven jacquard called Astor. Each coordinates with several of the solid-color sheets currently offered.

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