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Waverly a'buzz with cross-pollination

Waverly is pushing ahead with its channel-specific initiatives, working to expand placements and boost productivity in its various retail homes.

"The businesses all cross-pollinate one another," said Dale Williams, president and general manager, Waverly Lifestyle Group. "A good idea has no parents."

In the specialty retail channel, where Waverly is aligned with Linens 'n Things, "Business is growing very nicely," he said. "The great thing is that discriminating customers will pay for good product in that channel whether it costs $2.99 or $99.99."

At Lowe's, Waverly's home center channel venue, discussions are under way to add more product categories. The Waverly footprint has grown from 12 feet to 15, and expanded from an inaugural placement of basic window treatments into kitchen textiles, placements, napkins and a Waverly-branded paint program.

"It's an environment that's still evolving," Williams said.

In the mass market channel, the Waverly Garden Room program has finally come off the back wall of Target's domestics department, where its multiple product categories had been merchandised in unison. The product, which is produced under license by Springs Industries (and Ellery for window), has now moved back into its classifications.

"As a branding statement, it's wonderful to be splashed across the back wall," Williams said. "But customers don't shop lifestyle. If you aren't in the native department, your product isn't going to be found — period."

He added that the relocation of merchandise into Target's category presentations should improve productivity.

At fabric retail chains — including Hancock, JoAnn and Rag Shops — Waverly is selling not only fabric, but in some locations bedding and pillows as well.

"The retail fabric business is one of the best places where we can show the Waverly story," Williams said. "It's something that sets us apart from other home décor companies."

The department store sector is one channel in which Waverly could be considered under-represented. Although JCPenney carries the brand, it is primarily a window program, and Waverly has not pursued broad placements in other department stores.

The company pays greater attention to ferreting out emerging retail channels, Williams said.

"We don't know where consumers are going to be going next year. They weren't in Lowe's five years ago. Who knows where they'll be five years from now?"

Waverly's larger strategy is to position itself as a brand that is aspirational but attainable, he said. In a segment of retailing that seems to spawn a new brand each month, the company stresses its longevity.

"There's always a lot of buzz around new brands. We've been around 70 years; we have roots in all these categories, and we have the equity of being in millions of homes," he said.

The next wave of Waverly product destined for American homes draws upon the company's Sonoma Valley fabric collections and its new Williamsburg collection.

Sonoma Valley combines a lifestyle rooted in tradition with a contemporary Northern California edge to the design, a lifestyle Waverly calls "The American Tuscany."

Edgewood Estate is one of three ensemble groups Waverly will present under the line during the New York Home Textiles Market. It offers a cut-and-sew custom look that combines prints and chenilles.

The Williamsburg collection is inspired by Colonial Williamsburg's flower and herbal gardens, particularly the botanical illustrations from the estate's restored homes and museums.

Somerset Botanical, one of the ensemble introductions, features Waverly's new Napa basecloth, which mimics linen and will also be offered as a solid color program.

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