Rovit Grooming Sure Fit Brand

New Ceo Making an Effort to Zero in on What Consumers Want

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, August 8, 2006

At the New York Market — Sure Fit is making a major effort to talk with consumers about their views on slipcovers, from why they do or do not buy the product, to where they buy, and their expectations once the purchase is made.

Under the aegis of Hugh Rovit, the new ceo who joined the company about three months ago, “we're talking to consumers” via a multi-pronged research campaign using the New England Consulting Group to do empirically based research with current slipcover users as well as non-users and then via focus groups.

Rovit is using the experiences from his broad textiles background, as well as his affiliation with brand-driven companies like Oneida and Atkins Nutritionals, to reposition Sure Fit as the brand and the authority for the product.

“I've gone through similar experiences with companies that have gone from being manufacturers to importers and marketers, and I expect to reposition the company in a sector that is going through its own similar challenges.”

Rovit is sharing the preliminary results of the research this week with retailers during the market here. “We'll roll out responses to the studies in 2007.”

Sure Fit, which has gone through vast transformation in recent years, from changes in ownership to bankruptcy, “has a high brand awareness, even so,” he added. Rovit sees himself in the role “of helping to grow not just the business, but the category. We need to reestablish ourselves as a brand authority. That guidance over time has been lost.”

One of the challenges facing the company is improving the point of purchase experience, no matter what the sales channel, he noted. “We are having consumers identify the specific channels where they shop for these products. And we want to provide much more guidance at all channel levels. There has to be a clarity of purchase experience.”

Thus, part of the results of the research will be to determine where the products should be distributed, “as well as maximizing the use of the Sure Fit name.”

And beyond that, Rovit noted, “We have to better understand the expectations of what the consumer expects when she gets her purchase home, and then come up with remedies in packaging, pricing, styling.”

Rovit anticipates reinventing the catalog, which had been a significant direct-to-consumer sales vehicle. As far as growing Sure Fit business beyond its current footprint, that will depend upon identifying key brands, private labels, and store brands as opportunities.

Among past problems, Rovit explained “is that we were trying to be too many things to too many people. We're going to be much more targeted and refined. And it won't include an explosion of fabrications and skus.”

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