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Jane Seymour in New Launch with Sommerset

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, August 5, 2006

Birmingham, Ala. — The new Jane Seymour Home Collection is being launched in a partnership with the Sommerset Group here in a three-pronged marketing/distribution strategy.

The original Jane Seymour Collection was an exclusive with Saks Department Store Group (SDSG); last year that retail division was split and sold off.

Sommerset is a joint venture headed by Howard Winkler, former senior vp, home at SDSG who spearheaded the original program; product designer Tom Lamberton, who worked at SDSG; actress, artist and designer Jane Seymour and her husband and business partner, James Keach.

The first collection focuses on the home textiles segment, with some decorative accessories. Design inspiration for the merchandise in the collection will be based on the “four pillars of her life,” Winkler noted. These are St. Catherine's Court in Bath, England and Winding Way, a cottage on the Bath property; Coral Canyon, her home in Malibu, Calif.; and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan, the site of one of her films.

In an unusual step, the collection will first be offered on a direct-to-consumer basis via the soon to be launched Web site, janeseymourhome.com, said Winkler, who noted a precedent: “When Jane did personal appearances that were out of range for the SDSG stores, consumers asked how they could get the merchandise. We had lots of those requests. We arranged for them to buy the products via their credit cards and the suppliers drop shipped the merchandise to them.”

The second phase will kick off in spring 2007 with four of five Jane Seymour Home stores that will be franchises. These will be based in the southern tier of the United States; more stores will open in the second half of 2007, Winkler explained.

The 3,500-square-foot stores will house the four lifestyles with three or four beds in each. “Emphasis will be on the presentation as well as the product,” he said.

The third distribution channel will be “limited to a select number of better retailers,” Winkler said. The retailers will be invited to a preview at the Carlton Hotel during Home Textiles Market Week.

The collection focuses “on trend-right, fashion forward merchandise with product enhancements — rather than an emphasis on pricing,” Winkler pointed out. Themes range from contemporary to English traditional.

Initial home textile merchandise includes comforter sets, duvet cover sets, 700 count and 1,000 count all-cotton sheet sets, window coverings, decorative pillows, down comforters, featherbeds, pillows and pads.

Typical prices are $300 to $500 for the queen comforter set; duvet cover sets are lower.

The decorative accessories include lamps, scented candles, fragrances, baskets, vases, and wall art. Towels and rugs are slated to be added next year, Winkler said.

Seymour will undertake a program of personal and TV appearances, as well as interviews in various media. “It's an unprecedented opportunity for public relations and marketing activities,” Winkler remarked.

The vendor base has been streamlined from the original roster, he noted, declining to identify any but Rose Tree Linens which continues to supply the top end of the bedding collection. All the suppliers will do the fulfillment for each of the three distribution channels, including drop shipping. “They all have done this before,” Winkler added.

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