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NRF attendees tout sales of home category

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, January 21, 2002

Though talk at the NRF centered on the sluggish economy and when it will turn around, some retailers had positive feedback on the strong performance of home.

At Sears, home is outperforming the entire store overall, said Alan Lacy, chairman and ceo. "Home is better than the whole house overall." People still want to make their homes more enjoyable, he said, "and any category that feeds that will do well."

Lacy also felt that the first half of the year will be difficult but the second half will improve, making for an "okay year" overall. "This year will not be much different from last year," he said.

Federated Department Stores is not competing on price, but quality, said Terry Lundgren, president and chief merchandising officer. "The customer understands value — that's not our problem. It's to simplify our message. We don't want them to realize they got a great value after the sale is rung up, but before."

The message of discounters such as Wal-Mart and Target is pretty clear, Lundgren said, but "I don't want to compete in that area. I want to stand for fashion." Federated's Charter Club label "gets better and better," he said, including a top-of-the-line hotel bedding collection with a high thread count. He hopes that its private label program, now about 16 percent storewide, will grow to 20 percent.

Pier 1 Imports differentiates itself from other retailers with its unique merchandise, most of it from overseas, said Marvin Girouard, chairman and ceo. Pier 1 does well with such home textiles categories as placemats and napkins, decorative pillows and rugs and is still testing the waters with other categories such as bath towels and top-of-the-bed. "We're trying to figure how broad and deep we ought to go. There are already so many other players that do those categories well," he said. The chain recently had bath towels from Israel and Brazil, available in three colors, that did well in some locations and not in others.

Crate & Barrel, hot off of its Marimekko launch last week, is going bright and colorful this year, said Gordon Segal, founder and ceo.

Delia's, which has been going through growth spurts recently, finds its young female-targeted bedding category does very well because there are not many retailers that offer the product assortment, design and quality for that demographic, said Stephen Kahn, chairman and ceo.

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