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Thanks, in a time of need

Jennifer Negley -- Home Textiles Today, November 20, 2000

Given the news lately, it's hard to get excited about this weekend's kick-off to what's shaping up to be a highly promotional holiday season.

But as the industry limps into the battle for critical fourth quarter dollars, there are nonetheless a few things for which to be thankful. And so, in keeping with the holiday, here are 10 of them ...

The Twins:Bed Bath & Beyond and Linens 'n Things may be looking more fraternal than identical these days, but their growth remains monumentally important to home textiles manufacturers. BB & B is looking to become a $5 billion company over the next four to five years, of which home textiles sales should constitute somewhere from $2.3 billion to $2.8 billion. And should LNT stick with its strategy of opening 50 to 60 new stores this year and next, annual home textiles sales should break the billion dollar mark by the end of 2001.

New leadership at JCPenney, Kmart and Sears:Between them, these three companies generate just shy of $5 billion in home textiles sales annually. If their new captains come up with a formula to revitalize their year-over-year sales increases, it will be very happy news for a lot of companies.

The Great Indoors:Sears will devote roughly 25 percent of its capital spending next year to expanding the concept, with a longer range goal of operating 150 units. It's a hopeful sign to an industry in need of a fresh and compelling retail concept in which to showcase its wares. And-will wonders never cease-it offers a fair margin, too.

The over-storing of America:Although this only seems to become an issue at times when the economy gets really cruddy, few would deny that this country has far more storefronts than it needs-by some estimates, as much as 50 percent more. If retailers started slashing their store bases, the textiles industry would be in an even more difficult position than it finds itself today.

More retail consolidation:While not likely to occur on the scale that it did in the 1990s, there remains potential for a few more retail companies to be absorbed into larger entities. And that could potentially make some struggling retailers at least more solid financially and better able to compete against the Wal-Mart factor. This would be especially likely were one of the consolidators an international company that can give U.S. manufacturers entry into European or other global markets.

Martha Stewart Everyday:Forget about the fact that the universe of manufacturers producing goods for the line is finite. There's no denying that Martha Stewart Everyday both raises the consumer's awareness about goods for the home and raises the standard for how such product should be executed, especially in a mass market environment.

Hot-shots:Companies such as Mohawk, Waverly, Croscil and Veratex demonstrate that it is possible to grow a home textiles business in the United States, even in a less-than-ideal climate.

Niches:Not every company needs to cover every base in the textile world. Establishing a leadership position within a niche can still provide a steady business for smaller companies, even if the growth prospects may be less spectacular.

Technology:From the electronic jacquard machine to CAD to e-mail, technological advances have made it possible for the textiles industry to respond to trends and turn around product at what would have been considered unimaginable speed not so long ago.

Alan Greenspan:He madeth the boom, he guideth the soft landing, and he remaineth in office until 2004.

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