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Mohawk, B. Smith ink deal

Mohawk Home has struck a licensing deal with restaurateur and model B. Smith that is designed to help it further penetrate the specialty market, namely Bed Bath & Beyond, where Smith sells her line of coordinate bedding goods and window treatments exclusively.

For Smith, the partnership marks just one of "numerous," imminent home textile licensing partnerships with other suppliers to help her build her home design and lifestyle approach to "casual elegance, affordable luxury" goods for the home, Greg Wyman, executive vp, New York-based B. Smith Group Licensing, told Home Textiles Today.

"We're currently looking to expand throughout the home with more soft and hard goods," Wyman said. "We look for people with passion for work and expertise and Mohawk has both."

Jeff Jacobs, Mohawk Home's vp of marketing, told HTT that, based on the sell-through Mohawk has had with its other major designer license for the home, home guru Chris Casson Madden, the supplier pursued a partnership with Smith.

"We have recognized, given the success of Chris Madden, that there's a market out there for personalities with distinctive style, and B. Smith is a perfect example of that," Jacobs said. "We've gone after her because it enables us to grow in a different direction. She's unusual in that she's exclusive to Bed Bath & Beyond, representing a means for us to grow our business with key customers, and she fits in nicely with our whole approach of finding more upstairs distribution for throws and pillows."

Under the partnership, Mohawk will triple the size of Smith's home textiles line with four new categories — area rugs, bath rugs, decorative pillows and throws. San Francisco-based Keeco currently is B. Smith's supplier for her line of sheets, comforter sets, duvet sets and quilts and window treatment coordinates.

All of the goods will be sold exclusively at Bed Bath & Beyond and will be made to coordinate or complement Smith's existing bedding products and window treatments. Jacobs said Mohawk's line of products — the majority of which will be imported — are expected to hit store shelves by early this fall.

Jacobs said that, while Mohawk's line of Smith goods is still under development, the plan is to offer varied constructions in each category: woven polypropylene and printed nylon area rugs; synthetic and cotton bath rugs; and silk, velvet and embellished decorative pillows and throws.

Keeping in line with Smith's current home textiles offerings, the product made by Mohawk will don mid- to upstairs-tier price tags. Area rugs are estimated to retail for $250 to $300, decorative pillows for $15 to $25, and throws for $40 to $60. Bath rugs prices are still not set, Jacobs said.

Mohawk Home already offers some of its area rugs bearing the brands of Cheri Blum and other licensed artists at Bed Bath & Beyond. But because the retailer has only recently begun building on the category at the store level, Jacobs said that he expects the other three categories of B. Smith products to receive the most consumer interest at first.

"We think that bath rugs will initially be substantial business for us, and so will the decorative pillows and throws," Jacobs said. "Bed Bath & Beyond is still growing its rugs business — it's really a developing category for them. But these rugs will definitely be there in their stores, and we're hopeful that with B. Smith's distinctive and multi-cultural style we can help Bed Bath & Beyond grow the area rug category."

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