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  • Cecile Corral

Frenchtex extends marble line

New coordinate bath sets to debut in fall

MIAMI — Two years after adding Mexican marble bath accessories to its assortment of towels, bath rugs and terry shower curtains, Frenchtex Inc. is expanding its hand-made marble offerings into two new home categories: candleholders and desk accessories.

While terry cloth has limited Frenchtex, based here, to manufacturing soft goods for the bath for more than a decade, marble "has opened new opportunities in new categories with new customers," said Michael Waters, vp.

Like the bath accessories, the candleholders and desk accessories will come in two colors of marble — white onyx and black marble.

The candleholders will be available in 12 styles, each style available in the two colors. They will roll out into stores — specialty and department — in July.

The desk accessories line, scheduled for introduction this fall, includes the following pieces: legal tray; name plate; coasters; cardholder; paper clip holder; pencil holder; letter opener; book ends; clock; paper weight; and a boutique tissue box.

All marble-made accessories are hand-made and hand-polished in Mexico.

"We want our marble products to be the most expensive bath and desk accessories in stores," Waters said. "It's a very upscale line."

The marble wastebasket, for example, is $79. Price points for other products in the marble collections were not available.

Two years ago when Frenchtex decided to expand its business to include bath accessories, the company originally began using keystone, a natural type of coral rock abundant in Florida.

"But it was a mess for us," Waters explained. "So we went out and looked for other materials."

What they found was marble in Mexico.

"Our business is doing very well, and our customers are responding very favorably to the marble," Waters said. "It's the number-one bath accessory for some of our retail partners."

Two specialty stores are currently rolling out Frenchtex's new marble candleholder lines on a trial basis before the official launch later this summer.

Building on the success of its marble bath accessory business, Frenchtex will also introduce this fall — at the New York Home Textiles Show in October — new coordinate bath sets, which include a jacquard terry bath towel ensemble, a light-weight jacquard terry shower curtain, a bath rug and a nine-piece bath accessories set.

"Everyone currently carrying our bath accessory line has asked us to make coordinates," Waters said.

But, he added, unlike some of its bigger competitors, "who go out and make 10 different coordinate sets, we are going to stick to just the two colors."

For the past 14 years, since the company opened its doors, Frenchtex has been an importer of towels and bath rugs. In its primary line, Frenchtex's bath towels are mostly imported from Colombia and its beach towels from India and China. For the new coordinate sets, the towels and terry shower curtains will be imported from India and the bath rugs will come from China.

Towels continue to account for the bulk of Frenchtex's business — 95 percent. But the remaining 5 percent, Waters said, is reserved for growing the company's newer Mexican marble businesses.

Already Frenchtex's fledgling bath accessory business, which is barely two years old, grew by 400 percent since last year, Waters said. "And we expect to at least double that by next year," he added.

As for more marble products, the possibilities abound. Waters said Frenchtex has plans of possibly adding small marble pillboxes and decorative boxes to its line sometime next year.

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