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CK Home sees quicker entries into newer lines

Expansion into new categories is on the horizon for Calvin Klein Home since the acquisition two months ago of Calvin Klein Inc. by apparel and footwear giant Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.

"PVH loves home," said Barbara Deichman, PVH senior vp/home. "I think we'll have an easier time and faster time pursing the development of new licenses."

In the meantime, Calvin Klein bed and bath continues a steady rollout in Europe, where it now has 25 doors, and the program has recently pushed farther east into Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. Ten more doors will open by fall, she told HTT.

In the United States, the focus remains upgrading and expanding doors, said Rudy Schmatz, chairman of the Calvin Klein Home division of Design Works, the label's bed and bath licensee.

The recent New York Home Textiles Market proved to be more robust than expected, he added, although "retailers are looking to spend their money wisely."

Despite the soft economy, retailers are still responding to newness, he said. So are consumers, he added, pointing to strong sales at Bloomingdale's recently opened Medina Store in Chicago.

"There's a customer relating to something that's not price," he said.

While Calvin Klein bed and bath products work toward deepening their penetration with existing customers, the rollout of more recent product introductions has not yet reached critical mass.

The Calvin Klein area rug program, produced under license by Nourison and launched at retail roughly a year ago, is now in 43 doors — not enough so far to make the line eligible for retailer advertising plans, Deichman said. In the meantime, Calvin Klein Home is advertising through direct mail in markets that carry rugs, she said, a strategy the company used when the bed and bath program was still building out a presence.

Calvin Klein table linens, furnished by licensee W-C Designs, are "not distributed widely, but are in our most important customers," she said. "Table is easier to get into more branches."

In bed and bath, Calvin Klein Home is moving forward with a strategy inaugurated a year ago to phase in product in a steady stream of rollouts extending over several months, Schmatz said. Introductions shown during the market earlier this month will begin shipping in June, with subsequent new ships slated for July, August and September.

"It gives us a fresh face at retail, and it fits much better with the stores' advertising events of the season," he said. "We're still adhering to our promotional schedule. We don't believe the answer is sale, sale, sale."

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