NexCen Brands Ready to Expand Blass, Waverly

D'Loren Offers Strategy Details

Joan Gunin, Carole Sloan, May 21, 2007

NexCen Brands is a design-driven company with a strong retail relevance, factors that will be the core of how the Waverly and Bill Blass brands grow in the home furnishings market.

Both brands "are American icons across many demographics," Robert D'Loren, president and ceo pointed out in his first public discussion of his plans for each. While specifics are still to be determined, he noted that in today's merchandising world, "There has to be merchandising, marketing, a design team, great product and celebrities — an entire package," as the company is doing with its Athlete's Foot brand.

With finalization of the Waverly brand acquisition barely two weeks old, D'Loren noted that meeting with the licensees would be one of the first orders of business. As part of this program, Rick Platt, newly named president of the Waverly brand and the home division, "started a dialogue" with Ellery Lifestyles, the Waverly home fashions licensee, to make sure everyone is working together, discussing the partnership, the level of support, and what is expected from the licensees, Platt commented. [See related Platt story this issue, page 20.]

Defining Waverly, D'Loren offered, "It is a brand that clearly stands for classic, traditional American style. Blass, on the other hand, "represents timeless style, and will be relaunched as a contemporary brand."

In the short term, D'Loren said, "We will look at how the licensee portfolio is being administered. Let's see what we have, and then perhaps we will expand the licensees and distribution." Also in the works for Waverly is a franchised retail concept, D'Loren remarked.

As for retail distribution, D'Loren emphasized, "We are very successful in multi-channels, with great design for each."

Currently, Waverly has 15 licensees including one with Target for bed, bath, window, table linens, and slipcovers; and another with Lowe's for paint and lighting products.

As the Waverly brand is enhanced, it will follow the company's strategy "of making the right hires, being a design-driven company and giving the design team the freedom to make things," D'Loren said.

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