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Dan River Readies New Products

Positions for Innovation, Brand-Building

Jennifer Marks, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, November 26, 2007

Dan River, now a division of Delhi-based GHCL, is working toward a series of new product launches for February that will help position the reconstituted company as an innovation leader.

After its acquisition by GHCL, Dan River's physical mill structure was literally torn down, the equipment relocated to India. The offshore operation has since expanded with the construction of a new sheeting factory and is supplemented with sourcing offices in Pakistan, China, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Supply chain functions have been integrated and streamlined between Dan River, GHCL and the company's other U.S. acquisitions: Best and Baker, suppliers to the restaurant and hospitality industries, respectively.

The goal is to make Dan River Global the production, sourcing and distribution leader in home décor fashion, home décor basics, hospitality, healthcare and restaurant, according to Michael Flatow, newly named president and ceo (see more on Flatow in this issue, page 16).

"We want to stand for something in this industry," he added. "People who want to be me-too compete on price. We have to bring things that are more unique that customers can't do themselves."

Brand-building is also part of the strategy, both through licensing and "polishing" the Dan River nameplate, according to Herb Briggs, president, retail sales and marketing. Un-aided consumer focus group testing has determined "Dan River is a brand," he said. The plan now is to build that brand in the better-best realm and leverage it through sub-branding.

Dan River also sees the cross-pollination possibilities with GHCL's U.K. retail acquisition, Roseby's — for which it's doing some designing — as well as the parent company's plan to expand retailing in India. An American retailer acquisition, much discussed a year ago, is not off the table, but also not a priority, said Flatow.

While the division may roll into other product categories eventually, Dan River is focused on its base. "Leverage the core of what you're really good at — for us, that's global supply chain, brands and licensing," Flatow said.

Looking ahead to the February showroom market (Feb. 11-15), Dan River is readying an organic line, as well as a new sheet technology. Dan River is also in discussion with "a number of brands that should have high interest at retail," Briggs said.

After more than a year in transition, the company clearly sees February's "new" Dan River as a different entity from the 20th century mill operation that preceded it.

"It's a noble name in the industry," said Briggs. "It's 125 years old, but it's a new Dan River."