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Jo-Ann and Liz find success together

Sales of the Liz Claiborne Home decorative fabric collection at Jo-Ann Stores have exceeded expectations.

"We're very happy with the results so far," said Charles Domingue, vice president and general merchandise manager for home décor at the specialty chain, based here. The collection was kicked off in early April.

Jo-Ann has the launch exclusive at retail for the collection, which was produced by Richloom. "It just proves our initial thinking that Liz Claiborne apparel is very mainstream, and parallels our customer profile," Domingue added.

From the initial concept to in-store presentation, the collection took about nine months "and it truly was a collaborative effort between us, Richloom and the Liz Claiborne people. Initially, we had conversations with Richloom about the level of participation. Richloom is a very big strategic partner of ours, and they did lots of due diligence. And with that seed planted and having had past experience with Liz Claiborne in my past life, we went ahead," Domingue explained.

Jo-Ann is featuring the 100 sku collection on 54-inch bolts on outrigger frames that hold 10 rolls to a side. The five design statements are shown, each in color-coordinated arrangements, that include sheers to upholstery weight fabrics.

The collection is being featured in 600 of the company's more than 850 stores. Marketing support, besides in-store displays, includes circulars — with the first two inside pages featuring the fabrics in use and in-store flyers. In-store, there are "just arrived" signs highlighting the collection.

Customers can get one of two gifts with purchase items: a home decorating tool kit with a $150 Liz Claiborne purchase, or a Liz Claiborne measuring tape with a $50 purchase.

Fabric prices start at $12.99 and go up to $29.99 per yard.

The initial collection is pegged for a year's run, "but we're already working on the next collection," Domingue said.

He expects that there will be some sellers carried over from the first collection, as well as items that are dropped during the year.

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