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Bedding takes on more importance at Newport

Dec pillow biz continues to grow despite new lines

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

Newport Home Fashions isn't slowing down its hallmark business of decorative pillows, ending 2002 with a reported $25 million — about 9 percent better than last year's numbers.

But creeping up in importance is its growing bedding business — so much so that the company recently expanded its manufacturing and distribution facility here at headquarters to 50,000 square feet.

Based on this continued growth from both sides, Newport is looking to try its hand at several new home textiles categories, with some launches slated for next fall's New York Home Textiles Market.

"It's all about passion," George Whyte, vp and director of Newport's bedding division, told HTT. "I've been doing this for 30 years, and to be successful you've got to either love it or be crazy — and I'm both."

Whyte said Newport's bedding business has doubled in sales over the past year. Whyte went on to say Newport obtained placements with seven new and major national accounts, as well as several independent retailers. And it has created product using "600,000 yards of wide fabric over the past 14 months."

As business continues to thrive, so do the demands of Newport's retail partners, leading the company to delve into uncharted territory. In time for the next fall's market and for subsequent markets, Newport is hoping to launch new lines of goods for the first time, including table linens, sheets, throws and bath accessories and shower curtains.

"What I try to do is create designs based on what customers tell me that they want," Whyte explained. "I do more business in dollars on designs I've specifically been asked for by customers than on patterns I bring to market thinking customers might like. And customers have continued to ask me to make more and more goods, so that's what I plan to do."

Whyte said he will design these new goods but will import them from China. Newport, which manufacturers most of its lines here at headquarters, has stepped up its importing efforts progressively over the past year. To date, 30 percent of all of the company's product lines are imported from India, China and Pakistan as well as some other countries.

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