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Franco inks deal with Crayola

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, December 23, 2002

Jay Franco & Sons has added a splash of color to its assortment with a new line of Crayola licensed juvenile bedding and bath products.

Nancy Bailey & Associates, the corporate licensing agent in the home area for Binney & Smith, owner of the Crayola brand, and Franco announced the new agreement last week. In addition to Franco, Hedstrom Corporation and Schroeder & Tremayne have also signed deals for slumber products and personal care products, respectively. Franco is designing and supplying complete bed ensembles, bath accessories and shower curtains.

According to Frances Alvarez, account executive for Bailey, sheets, comforters, bedskirts, decorative pillows, quilts, soft window coverings, bath towels, hooded towels, wash mitts, bath mats, beach towels, coordinating bathroom accessories and shower curtains are all encompassed in the deal with Franco. All of the products are designed to coordinate with each other and play off the name recognition of the Crayola brand.

Said Joe Franco, vp, sales for Franco, "It's a classic brand that just lends itself to the home." He added that Franco, in an effort to achieve a better balance, needed a branded license that isn't based on a character and that holds universal appeal across a variety of age groups.

In addition, Franco also retains exclusive licensing rights for the Dora the Explorer, SpongeBob Square Pants, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and Blue's Clues licenses, as well as many others.

Nell Roney, executive vp for Bailey, said Franco was selected because of its creativity and reputation in the licensing arena, as well as for its "real enthusiasm and excitement" for the brand. "They're able to provide the bed and bath products together, which gives us a total coordinated look," she told HTT. "Housing the Crayola brand in one home brings it all together."

Roney also said that several other licensing discussions were taking place between Bailey for the Crayola brand and several other suppliers "to fill in the blanks."

Initial designs include looks aimed at the 3-to-7-year-old age group. Plans for the open stock top-of-bed include various patterns that are centered around the Crayola name and so far consist of four different designs. Two looks, one more universal and the other younger in approach, are planned for the bath. A core solid-color sheet set program coordinating with all of the ensembles is also in the works. Although 64 different colors are offered in a large Crayola box of crayons, Franco said the initial offering of the line centers around "what we think will be the best color combinations that have the most appeal."

The launch date for the line is planned for March 2003 during the spring New York Home Textiles Market with a ship date to retailers set for the summer. Despite the more basic approach for the initial rollout, Franco said the company planned to get "a little funkier" in the colors used with the second incarnation of the license, thus keeping in step with Crayola's virtual rainbow.

While distribution has not yet been set, both Franco and Roney said they believed Crayola has a broad enough appeal to a variety of retail channels.

Construction has also not yet been set, but Franco said he expected most of the products to be sourced from offshore.

"It's a good time for Crayola to come into the home," Roney remarked. "The brand has been around for 100 years, has longevity and isn't as risky as some other licensed lines. It also has lots of flexibility and mom appeal, and she's the one who makes the final decision and makes the purchase."

"We're very excited," Franco said. "It's a great direction for us to take."

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