Breuners provides opportunity

Carole Sloan, March 26, 2001

LANCASTER, PA -With 50 stores boasting 45 to 50 bedrooms, Breuners Home Furnishings Corp. is faced with some 1,500 beds that need to be dressed twice a year.

This, and the other non-furniture segments of the business for the East Coast-based Huffman-Koos and the West Coast-based Breuners, offer an enormous opportunity, said John Solimine, senior vp, general merchandise manager for the chain that recorded total sales of $400.8 million in 1999.

For Lynn Koesling, who buys all but the third-party leased custom window, bed covering and drapery piece, "it is important for us to do a whole lot of business with a few vendors to get both service and exclusivity."

A key challenge, she said, "is that it is scary for furniture sales people to sell custom bed coverings. It's complicated in terms of the number of pieces, but we're not going to be selling bed in a bag."

Decorative pillows, Koesling explained, are selected on the basis of the style and color of the furniture on the floors. "But we also have some pillow walls, or spread the pillows around the store."

As for replenishment, "We don't have an automatic system yet, but we're almost ready."

Under her responsibility is the selection and allocation of dressing all the beds, plus throws and decorative pillows that are offered throughout the stores.

Key bedding sources for Breuners are Wild Cat Territory, which offers a lot of proprietary, very fashion-forward styles; Mystic Valley Traders, with a strong customized program and quick ship, and Brown Sugar, which features very dressy tapestries, Koesling explained.

In kids, "California Kids offers affordable product."

In other textiles, Koesling picks Eastern Accents, Tapestries Ltd. for imports and Susan Sargeant throws for color, as well as throws from Textillery and DJC Designs.

But what Breuners needs, Koesling added, "is more bedding at more moderate prices [that's] easier to sell." The goal for bedding, she related, is to have 50 percent customer/special order bedding and 50 percent buy as shown. The company's working with Southern Textiles in the latter segment, she said. "But at the same time we are looking to dress up our premium bedrooms."

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