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Bedding is big at LNT

At Linens 'n Things, the textiles business, particularly fashion bedding, has gained momentum over the past three months, representing the company's strongest performing period for the category in some time, reported LNT in its first quarter conference call.

"We are encouraged by the solid comp-sales performance in our textiles' business," said William Giles, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Fashion bedding, Giles added, was the driving force of growth, resulting from LNT's efforts to offer "more balanced assortments of fashion and value" goods, as well as successes seen with some of the store's core bedding brands; most notably Nautica, Wamsutta and Waverly. As a result, LNT is moving forward with the continued rollout to the entire chain of its Liz Claiborne fashion bedding collection.

In bath, LNT is "finishing cycling through the transitions," Giles explained, of the Royal Velvet and Fieldcrest brands, which he said continue, to impact the store's bath businesses.

"During the second quarter, we expect our towel business to show steady improvement as we complete our assortment change," he said.

Going forward in its textiles arena, LNT expects to sustain these improvements as it continues clarifying assortments, expanding branded offerings and improving fashion and value-oriented offerings.

In related news, LNT noted that its performance for the quarter exceeded 100 percent, which the company attributes in part to the growth of in-store traffic.

"We were encouraged that the increase in our comparable net sales came from both an increase in traffic as well as average transaction, with traffic representing more than 80 percent of the increase in comparable sales for the quarter," Giles said. "This represents the third consecutive quarter of increased traffic, which we believe is a reflection of the momentum we are gaining from our initiatives."

Also, the company said it will continue to devote "significant resources" to its merchandise assortment planning initiative, which is directed at improving statistical editing of assortments, particularly among opening and mid-price point offerings.

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