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Things Outperform Linens

2Q Plan Calls for Emphasis on Seasonal Merchandise

Clifton, N.J. — Coming off a quarter when its fashion textiles suffered soft sales, Linens 'n Things said it is now finishing its assortment transitioning plan and expects to give soft home a boost by injecting new products and adding up to two new brands by early third quarter, the company said during its earning call last week.

“Our textiles business, which has a higher penetration of our overall business for the first quarter, remains challenging,” said Jack Moore, president and chief operating officer. “In particular, our fashion textiles business was soft as we continued to transition our assortment. Overall, we expect our transitioning of assortment to have less of an impact on our sales performance in the second quarter. By late second quarter to early third quarter, you should expect to see new content in our stores along with one to two new brands in this part of the business.”

During the first quarter, it was the retailer's “things” side of the business that performed best, with the most strength stemming from functional housewares businesses. Furniture also continues to be strong, as well as upgraded assortments in the bath category, Moore said.

During the second quarter, Moore added that Linens will build its seasonal merchandise, “including an expanded selection of seasonal furniture that, although early, has been well received by our guests.”

Looking ahead, improving the content of its merchandise offerings “continues to be a top priority,” Moore said, with several initiatives already in place to help the company achieve this, specifically with more “fresh and new” trend-right products. That includes new merchandise on a frequent basis, more brands, new businesses and expanded categories, increased promotional offerings on key value items, and an improved in-store experience with reduced clutter, better signage and enhanced customer service.

“As you walk into our stores, you should begin to see more focus, less clutter,” Moore said.

The company is “progressing” in its search for a new chief merchandising officer and expects to fill the post by the end of the second quarter.

Regarding real estate, Linens opened eight new stores, bringing its total store count to 499 units.

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