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Night moves in the jungle

Watch out all you folks in the wild and woolly world of home textiles.

There's a quiet and very important thing happening in furnitureland.

What's happening is that both suppliers and retailers finally are realizing the importance of putting the whole home furnishings thing together. And they're beginning to to do it at what probably will be the expense of the home textiles marketplace.

It began in earnest when the likes of Robb & Stucky at the upper end of the furniture retailing world made its foray a year or so back into a full hometextiles/tabletop/accessories mode — well beyond the point of having accessories in the room vignettes or bed coverings and pillows on the beds.

What has happened is that many of the home furnishings programs that are licensed efforts are moving more and more into a total home mode. Furniture stores are picking up the likes of home textiles along with the Tuscany program at Drexel Heritage, Tommy Bahama at Lexington and the upcoming Woolrich home again at Lexington as well as Oscar de la Renta at Century, to name just a few.

And for the '04 launch of Liz Claiborne, total home discipline will be even more evident, with the supplier players all working with one another to make the program truly evocative of the powerful Liz franchise.

It seems that those involved in managing these marquee licenses now also are managing how they are being handled at retail — and furniture stores are an increasing part of the equation.

As the traditional home textiles retail base becomes more and more preoccupied with "how low can you go", the marketplace is moving on.

There undoubtedly will be competition coming from this emerging home textiles player arena.

It's fairly clear that customers buying a special new bed will gravitate to the bedding designed to go with it — without worrying that the sheets are whatever count and the whole package is whatever as well. They're seeing the full bedroom right there as they buy it.

It's a real and immediate challenge. And it doesn't matter whether you're a department store, a specialty store or even a Wal-Mart. This trend is stealing sales — unit by unit.

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