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Heritage Plans Some Tweaking for ITC

Plans in Place to Streamline High-End Fabric Importer's Supplier Base

Retail Editor 4, Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 6, 2004

While following the original approach of limited distribution formulated by Bernie Sunshine, founder of International Textile Corp. (ITC), there will be some streamlining at the company under its new owner.

Tom Hilb, principal of Heritage House Fabrics, which bought ITC, a converter and importer of high-end fabrics in October, noted that he will keep the distribution approaches of the two companies separate. Heritage House, he explained, sells to everyone with little confinement. “I will continue the ITC game plan of limited distribution, but I also plan to maximize distribution on a few things like solids and basics.” ITC will continue to focus on the high-end fabric jobbers and manufacturers, he said.

In addition, Hilb plans to streamline the supplier base. “Bernie had more than 30 vendors; over time, I plan to try to limit the supplier base to eight or 10 majors.”

As for new product introductions from ITC, Hilb commented, “Bernie had quite a lot of new fabrics in the pipeline, I'm just beginning to look further ahead.”

Comparing the two businesses, Hilb related, “Heritage House is a relatively simple business by comparison — 80 percent of the line is piece dyed and the pieces all fit together easily. ITC is very complicated.”

The inventory of ITC has been moved to the corporate distribution center in Concord, N.C. ITC will be in its same show space at Showtime in January in the Suites at Market Square. It currently has moved its showroom here to the Heritage House space, “but we are looking for a new showroom facility,” Hilb said.

Anna Gehrken has joined the company from ITC as furniture sales specialist for North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. Joe Lehrer, ITC's sales rep for all distribution channels, will continue as the West Coast rep. All other territories with reps now carrying the Heritage House line also will carry the ITC line.

Despite the complexity of the integration, Hilb said, “I'm happy with the purchase.” He is planning to recruit product development people in prints and wovens as well as a merchandiser for both businesses.

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