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Ritzenthaler inks Susan Sargent deal

Making a break from its traditional solid-color business, kitchen textiles and table linens supplier The John Ritzenthaler Co. recently entered into a licensing partnership with Susan Sargent Designs Inc. to produce a collection depicting the designer's brightly colored and whimsical patterns.

"For us, this is a huge departure from our strong, core solid basic business," Debby Stirner, director of design and product development, told Home Textiles Today. "Partnering with Susan Sargent is a very dynamic move for us, and we are very excited about it."

Sargent said the partnership represents the Pawlet, VT-based company's new focus on expanding its brand into more home textiles categories through outside suppliers to acquire a broader distribution at the national retail level.

"Ritzenthaler is a really great company with a great reputation. And because of their traditionally conservative style I felt they have a real commitment to my line, and that I'd be important to them in developing a whole new line with a new approach," Sargent told HTT. "Kitchen and table are such fun categories and I think that through Ritzenthaler we can reach new customers at the specialty and department store levels."

For the launch, scheduled for October at the New York Home Textiles Market, Ritzenthaler will introduce close to 400 skus, which Stirner described as "a full-blown line which represents a much larger collection [for launch] than usual for us. We're really going ahead with a tremendous amount of product for this line."

Ritzenthaler's Susan Sargent Collection will include a full line of kitchen textiles — chair pads, oven mitts, pocket mitts, pot holders, aprons and kitchen towels in printed, flat and embroidered constructions — as well as a complete offering of table linens — table cloths, place mats, napkins and runners.

Ritzenthaler will start out using a variety of Susan Sargent designs from two- and three-toned solid-color patterns to at least five prints featuring florals, fruit and geometric designs, Stirner said.

Most of the line will coordinate across the two categories, but Stirner said it is likely that some pieces will stand alone. One example is three-piece packs of embroidered towels, she noted.

Constructions include woven jacquards, yarn-dyed plaids and viscose/cotton blends with textured chenille yarns, and several other constructions are still under development.

Like Susan Sargent's other products — most notably its bedding and bath collection by Springs Industries — Ritzenthaler's kitchen textiles and table linens are geared for the specialty and department stores.

Price points average $9.99 to $14.99 for printed fabric table cloths and $14.99-plus for woven varieties; $3.99 to $4.99 for all place mats; and $3.99 to $4.99 for each kitchen towel with the exception of specially priced three-pack sets.

Ritzenthaler's licensing deal with Susan Sargent represents the company's third on its current roster, which also includes Cuisinart and Weber-Stephen Product Co. — both for kitchen textiles and table linens products.

For Sargent, the partnership is just one of many more she hopes to soon forge with other major home textiles suppliers.

"I am aggressively looking for more partners to produce rugs, decorative pillows. And I'd love to have a beach towel partner," she said. "I'm open to all home textiles categories right now."

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