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Veratex slips into high-end sheets

Going hand in hand with its established reputation as a provider of luxury top-of-bed ensembles, Veratex is now looking to make a name for itself in the high-end sheeting arena.

Joining its Anniversary Sateen collection of solid-color, 350-count cotton jacquard sheets, Veratex will soon begin shipping a new Anniversary Stripe collection of the same thread count. The company has also upgraded it existing top-of-bed ensembles, adding more luxury by going to a new 330-count solid-color sateen coordinate sheet, labeled Supreme Sateen II, from its original offering of a 250-count sateen sheet.

What the company hopes will make the new Stripe collection more attractive to consumers is its retail price point of $79, which comes in $20 less than the jacquard construction. The Stripe will also be offered in a different color palette, one that is "bolder, brighter and fresher" than the original jacquard, said Dale Talbert, vp of sales. It will be woven in Israel and cut and sewn in China.

The Supreme II will also enjoy a fresh influx of color that is a departure from the soft pastel tones of Anniversary Sateen. "The Supreme will have the boldest, most cutting-edge color of the line," said Talbert. When sold as open stock, the Supreme II will range from $49 for a queen sheet. Like its predecessor, the Supreme II is also woven in Israel and cut and sewn in California. According to the company, one of the primary appeals of the Supreme II is that bedding ensembles that had been using the original 250-count sheet will be upgraded to Supreme II at no extra cost, adding substantially more value.

"The bar keeps getting raised higher and higher, and thread counts keep going up and up," Talbert said. "It's also a very competitive market out there in terms of the pricing. There's a lot better product out there nowadays," he added.

Both the Supreme II and the Stripe collections will begin shipping in February, as will the top-of-bed ensemble upgrades.

According to Talbert, Veratex expects to add several million dollars to its bottom line in 2002. The company is expecting sales for 2001 to be in the $45 million range but remains optimistic that the $50 million mark will be eclipsed in 2002 if retailers and consumers respond to the new programs the way they have responded to the Anniversary Sateen collection.

"More than getting new customers, we think we can expand placement with current customers," Talbert said. "The programs are more of an expansion with what we currently have out there. I think we're hoping for a present-to-new-customer mix of 70/30."

He added that the additions are part of the company's overall strategy of aggressively expanding its customer base, the beginnings of which were seen during fall market with the introduction of several new simplified top-of-bed ensembles, which were in sharp contrast to Veratex's signature opulence. Veratex has also aggressively expanded its bathroom accessory and soft window covering lines.

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