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Ritzenthaler dives into terry bath products

Cecile Corral, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, July 29, 2002

The John Ritzenthaler Co. is broadening its product category mix further beyond kitchen textiles and delving further into terry goods with the expansion of its bath line.

The company originally launched a small bath line about two years ago with limited offerings.

"We have a bath line — but more like dabbling in it," Debby Stirner, director of design and product development, told Home Textiles Today. "Now is when we are very, very serious about getting deeper into it. We've become pretty serious about being in the bath business from here forward."

And the numbers prove it. For the New York Home Textiles Market in October, the company will more than triple the size of its fashion bath towel business with an additional 200 skus within five design collections.

"Our October launch for bath will represent the most significant introduction we've ever had," Stirner said.

The reason, she explained, is mainly because the bath category poses the best route for the company to significantly grow its terry business outside the long-established kitchen textiles category.

"Our customer base is shrinking because we have less and less customers due to so many store closings, plus kitchen is already an established business so we won't be selling twice as many kitchen products this year," Stirner said. "To grow our business we found that the best way to go is by adding categories that make sense to us; so that's what bath represents. And it means working with the same stores that we already work with for kitchen and table. So it made perfect sense to us."

Those stores include mid-tier, specialty and department stores. Price points for bath towels average $12.99, depending on the collection. Some price points have yet to be determined.

All of the bath towels — available as bath, hand and tip ensembles — are constructed of Turkish wring-spun combed cotton, made slightly larger in size than standard bath towels at a 30" x 54" dimension (standard bath towels are 30" x 52"), imported from Turkey and produced at a facility that Ritzenthaler already works with to produce kitchen textiles.

"It's a mill with tremendous production capabilities," Stirner explained.

The initial five collections are composed of the following constructions and styles:

  • A sculpted textured solid-color jacquard, available in eight colors and four designs—including Greek key, chevron, swirl and puzzle.

  • A two-color jacquard, available in five different tonal colorations and four contemporary designs, including bamboo, ombre stripe and tropical leaf.

  • A jacquard-based towel that utilizes a unique weaving technique to give the illusion of a 3-D embroidered design, available in nine designs, all on an ivory base and featuring the inset design in two colors.

  • A mercerized cotton towel with a jacquard border and embroidery, available in three designs, each on a white base with colored icons.

  • And a two-tone terry towel, available in four bright colors that each feature a white bottom border with embroidered floral designs.

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