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Newport sees growth in bedding business

Newport Layton Home Fashions, based here, historically known as a decorative pillow manufacturer, introuduced twice as much new product at the recent market than it had eight months ago. With the introduction, the company increased the bedding portion of its entire business to 30 percent.

And as big as bedding is for Newport, the company's aspirations for the category are just as lofty.

"Within the three years, I'd like our business equally split between decorative pillows and bedding, 50/50," said Cory Faul, president.

With George Whyte at the helm, Faul said, that goal is attainable.

Whyte, vp, who in November celebrates his 30th anniversary in the home textile industry, joined Newport in December 1999 to expand the company's then-limited bedding business of strictly high-end luxury bedding into a large business targeting a broader range of retailers.

"When I started, Newport had about 15 to 20 bedding collections, with a few exclusives," Whyte said. "Today we have 26 plus because I've also developed at least 26 more exclusive patterns for special customers. In fact, I'm already working on two dozen more exclusive patterns for next spring's market. But that's what we always try to do. We pride ourselves in giving customers what they want and not what we want to sell."

To lead Newport into more competitive price points, Whyte has developed new fabrics and constructions with fashionable looks.

"I work with woven product mills on constructing fabrics that will achieve price points I want," he said.

Whyte explained that importing also is increasingly becoming an important facet of the bedding business. "We are importing some things directly from India and China, and we'll continue doing that," he said. "The greater portion is still done by domestic mills, but our importing business is growing."

Added Faul: "In general our importing business is about 15percent of our entire business. But 85 percent of what we do is still domestic cut and sew. In our Portland facility, a 150,000-square-foot plant, we cut and sew and manufacture all of our products with the exception of our imports."

Among Newport's newest offerings this past market were wide-width fabrics for duvets, comforters, coverlets and bed caps — the latter a new offering at this past market.

Whyte said Newport also is now offering for the first time new luxury sizes in bedding — "much larger than industry standards, considering all the tall mattresses out there these days." Whyte would not disclose dimensions for the new luxury size products.

Price points for duvets and comforters range from $40 tomore than $200, Whyte said.

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