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Federated formulates 'brand' new home plan

New York — Federated Merchandising Group (FMG) is refining its home business plan, citing a "rejuvenated energy in home" that will further emphasize brands and upper tier goods, according to Janet Grove, chairman and ceo.

Simultaneously, home is at least a partial beneficiary of FMG senior management's "four key strategies" to recast merchandising efforts across virtually all Federated divisions during 2002 and beyond. At the fulcrum of those efforts are dynamic changes in assortment strategies, improvements in the shopping experience, simplified pricing and alterations in marketing that will shift the balance between fashion and promotional advertising.

Grove offered those insights during a "Key Issues Seminar" earlier this week, an occasional series sponsored by the Fashion Institute of Technology.

About a dozen elements of those strategic initiatives are being rolled out to 42 stores during the fourth quarter and should be in place within the next month, Grove said.

First among them is an effort to make the merchant's assortments more compelling by dramatically editing and narrowing those selections.

While assortments are narrowed, Federated is investing in new technology that will help it micromanage assortments "right down to the door level," she explained. It will also help reduce markdowns, speed inventory turns and drive sales.

The assortment strategy also places emphasis on newness, with additional floor space realized from sharpened assortments. "Sameness at retail is boring the customer," she told the industry audience.

Finally, the assortment strategy calls for Federated to better differentiate its offerings, which Grove said is being accomplished through closer ties with vendors to develop new and exclusive products.

In other company news, Federated Department Stores will place a second Bloomingdale's unit in New York, this time in the SoHo neighborhood, with construction planned for spring and opening planned for fall.

The 124,000-square-foot location, on Broadway between Spring and Broome streets, will undergo extensive renovation, while retaining a SoHo feel, the company said. A selection of home merchandise, presented in lifestyle settings, will be on the fifth floor in the Home Studio.

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