• Jennifer Marks

Pillowtex Hires Platt as Managing Director

New York — Official Pillowtex LLC, owner of the now-defunct mill’s assets, has taken the first step in bringing management of the brands in-house by hiring Rick Platt as managing director.

Platt, who most recently was senior vice president of retail sales at Sure Fit Inc., will serve as liaison between the board members of Pillowtex LLC and the companies responsible for handling its brands.

“This is really a collaborative effort,” Platt said.

Initially, Platt will focus on the Cannon and Royal Velvet brands. His immediate task is prioritizing additional licensing agreements based on either the size or the seasonality of the product category, he said.

The Royal Velvet brand has been licensed to trading company Li & Fung USA for most home textiles categories and to Maples for bath rugs, but has other categories awaiting final licensing agreements — most notably pillows/pads and blankets. It will return to retail in spring 2005 as a bath program at Kohl’s and some as-yet-unnamed retailers and will expand into other categories thereafter.

Cannon, which will reappear at retail in 2006, has secured several licensees. Li & Fung holds the license for bedding, bath, kitchen and tabletop; Maples for bath rugs; Pacific Coast Feather for pillows, pads and natural fiber products; and Faribault for blankets.

Brand management firm Earthbound LLC oversees two of the brands: Fieldcrest, which will re-launch in early 2005 as an exclusive brand at Target; and Charisma, which has just been licensed to WestPoint Stevens for distribution in better department stores and catalogs (see Charisma story on Pg. 1). The brand will begin shipping in late 2005. Earthbound will continue to handle all aspects of both brands.

Eventually, Pillowtex LLC intends to build a brand management team, Platt said. However, it must first assess what needs have to be addressed.

The hiring of a brand manager was expected. In mid-October, Official Pillowtex retrieved the Royal Velvet and Cannon brand management responsibilities it had conferred on Group 3 Design, which had awarded the licenses to Li & Fung and Maples.

The multi-tiered management arrangement has caused some confusion in the marketplace about precisely which entity was responsible for which part of the brand development effort.

Several companies that pitched to be awarded one of the four licenses also said the structure slowed the pace of decision-making — which itself requires the approval of each constituent member of Official Pillowtex LLC. Official Pillowtex is actually a consortium of businesses that paid $121 million for Pillowtex’s assets. Among those members are SB Capital Group (Schottenstein) and home textiles manufacturer Franco Mfg.

Platt said his role will be to give Official Pillowtex more oversight of the brand development process, but also to bring some clarity to the proceedings for both the Pillowtex board and the licensees. He will be based in New York.

Platt has spent 25 years in the business, with a heavy emphasis on licensing. He was most recently senior vice president of retail sales at Sure Fit Inc. Prior to that he was senior director of retail sales and marketing for National Football League Properties. He also served as director of sales and marketing at Major League Baseball Properties.

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