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Cecile Corral

J.R. United to N.Y. Market: No Thanks

Miami — As part of a larger initiative to create more customer-specific programs and do away with broader presentations of new lines, bath and beach towel and bedding company J.R. United has opted out of the New York Home Textiles Market, starting with next month's event.

It marks the first time since 1978 that the company will not participate in the market.

“It's been bothering me since last market (in October),” Salo Grosfeld, president, said.

“We had 65 to 70 appointments and, in the end, we found these retailers were just window shopping. The customers come in, there are 50 people just standing around and not really talking about anything. We had to see them at their offices before market to give them market previews and then again after market to seal the deals — making market just a waste of time and money,” he said.

Its alternative: J.R. United is opening in May a virtual showroom, open year-round to retail customers — by appointment only.

“We'll update it weekly or monthly, depending on how we're developing our new products,” Grosfeld said. “It saves money and time not just for us but for our customers as well, which is what we're looking to do. We just want to focus on business and service the customer.”

Grosfeld estimated a savings of about $500,000 annually by not participating in the bi-annual textiles market. “And we'll be able to pass that on to our customers,” he added.

Grosfeld's larger plan, which he calls the company's “New World Strategy,” was developed as a way for J.R. United to remain competitive as retailer count shrinks and direct importing increases.

“We are macro-marketing and micro-merchandising — we put together different lines for different customers, all specific to them individually,” he explained.

Rather than introducing new lines twice a year at the markets, the company is monthly creating new product for its customers — which range from the discount department stores to upper-end department stores.

“This is the way of the future,” he said.

Unlike many of its competitors that have overseas operations and offer direct import programs to retailers, Grosfeld said J.R. United does not, nor will it ever, offer direct importing services to its customers.

“We don't do direct importing, and we won't even consider it,” he said. “People who do direct importing for retailers are just handling logistics, and we aren't a logistics company. What we do is design and develop great looking product at great prices, and we manage our own brands and licensed brands to create differentiation.”

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