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  • Jennifer Marks

WestPoint Home Aims for Return to Profitability

NEW YORK - Coming off a year with more than 16% in top-line growth, WestPoint Home is focusing on its brands and technological introductions in 2011 as it looks to restore profitability.
     "On an EBIDA [earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization] basis, we lost less last year than the year before," said president and ceo John Piazza, adding the kicker was higher raw material prices.
     He added, "The top line is growing not just because of price. The top line is growing because the product is good."
     Hanes, the company's most recent branded introduction, debuted in January in 2,000 Walmart hot spots and is rolling in to two other retailers, he said. The home textiles line, like the apparel accessories line, is designed to go into multiple retail channels.
     "Some retailers jump into the basic bedding products; some jump into the sheets, some the towels," Piazza said.
     As to the most high-profile brand in the stable - Lauren Ralph Lauren - the shift in West- Point's relationship with Ralph Lauren Home will have less impact on sales than many in the industry think, he said.
     Although WestPoint is now licensee only for the basic bedding portion of the brand, its mills in Pakistan and Bahrain still produce much of the bedding and towels as a contract manufacturer, he said. And through WestPoint's relationship with respected Italian printer Mascioni, bedding is sewn and packaged at WestPoint's plant in Chipley, Fla.
     "Our relationship has just changed; it hasn't ended," Piazza said.
     The company also continues to pursue international business. Results from its exhibition at Intertextil Shanghai a few months ago opened up a nice line of business in Asia, said Alan Kennedy, senior vp. The company has also made inroads into the United Kingdom and is beginning to see opportunity in South America.
     International business "nicely balances the U.S. business," Kennedy said. "They pay ore for the goods and you make more for the goods. They're strict about quality - but they'll pay for it."

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