Waverly Lifestyles Seeks Partner

Carole Sloan, December 20, 2004

New York — Waverly Lifestyles Group is seeking a strategic partner to aid in the expansion of its rapidly growing home fashions business segment.

Waverly started its home fashions business more than a decade ago, primarily as an in-house custom bedding and window coverings business, said Dale Williams, Waverly president. About four years ago, he added, “We got more aggressive,” and the business has grown. The product mix is produced with domestic contractors as well as direct offshore sourcing.

The move is the result of the success of the home fashions strategy “which has created numerous additional opportunities for us in this business,” stated Gerald Puschel, president and CEO of F. Schumacher & Co., Waverly's parent.

The home fashions business now is distributed to a wide range of retail channels from the Waverly dealer Waverly Place shops, retail fabric stores, department stores like Belk's and JCPenney, Target, Linens 'n Things, Lowe's, The Great Indoors and Expo Design Centers.

The key issue in seeking a partner is production and distribution, Williams said. The logistical complexities, both from a sourcing perspective and at the retail level, have led to this move, he explained. “Our strength — and we will retain this — is in design and marketing,” he emphasized.

The company has retained the services of an investment bank to explore a possible sale and long-term licensing partnership with a range of domestic and foreign firms. “This is not simply the sale of a division,” said Raymond Chevallier, executive vice president, chief financial officer of Schumacher. “By converting this business to a license, we are looking for strong viable firms with whom we will be working for many years to come.”

Williams, president of the Waverly Lifestyle Group, said, “As we evaluate potential partners, we will be placing a high value on those firms that will be able to execute this transition without disrupting our current flow of business.”

A firm objective is to ally with a single partner “that may or may not make more than one of the products we currently produce in the home fashions business — bed coverings, window coverings and decorative pillows. We're not sure exactly what shape this will take,” Williams related.

While there is no set timetable for signing on a licensed partner, “It is safe to say that it will be a number of months or perhaps mid-year. We are being very deliberate. We are looking for someone who shares our vision of the brand and with whom we will have a good chemistry,” Williams said.

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