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Jennifer Marks

Royal Velvet Rises Again

New York — It’s back.

Royal Velvet has resurfaced at retail as a licensed program after months off the shelves in the wake of previous owner Pillowtex Inc.’s liquidation. Four retailers are taking part in the initial rollout — Kohl’s, Sears Canada, Belk and Gottschalks — which will put the RV brand in 1,259 doors by spring.

Kohl’s is first out of the box with the nascent program, which currently consists of a 40-color towel assortment, coordinating bath rugs and bath accessories. Kohl’s rolled out the program to all stores in mid-January.

Gottschalks is expecting to mount the program sometime in February, according to Donald Engelman, vice president, general merchandising manager, Home Stores Division.

Although RV won’t hit Sears Canada until March, the retailer is already featuring the bath towels in a two-page spread in its “Spring/Summer” catalog, which is on the streets now. Sears Canada also will feature RV in its “Spring Fashions Home Sale” catalog that goes out Feb. 7, according to Sandra Salter, national merchandise manager.

“This is a stunning presentation of color that will address every decor need, every palette and every taste level in the marketplace,” she added. “It is the widest selection of color under a single brand name in Canada, and we are thrilled to offer it to the Canadian consumer.”

Kohl’s was the first retailer to announce last year that it would pick up the brand, which is owned by Official Pillowtex LLC, a consortium that acquired the assets of the now-defunct Pillowtex mill.

The launch program includes bath towels and accessories supplied by licensee Li & Fung as well as bath rugs manufactured by licensee Maples Rugs.

As seen by HTT at a Kohl’s store in Brooklyn, the program was merchandised on four end-caps as well as occupying nearly half of the towel wall. The combed cotton towel is constructed of 100 percent Supima loops and sourced from both Turkey and India.

Pricing on the bath towel was previously set by Official Pillowtex at $9.99, and Kohl’s has complied with that pricing, albeit as a “sale” price off Kohl’s original pricing at $16. Hand towels were “saled” at $7.99, washcloths at $5.99 and 33-by-36-inch bath sheets at $17.99.

Similarly, bath rugs were signed at 30 percent off. “Sale” pricing was $13.30 for a 17-by-24-inch rug, $16.80 for both the contour and the 22-by-35-inch rugs, $26.60 for the 24-by-42-inch rug, and $10.50 for the lid cover.

HTT counted 36 colors on display. The palette ranges from pastels to brights, with the heaviest concentration appearing to favor more saturated colors.

Executives from Kohl’s were unavailable to comment on the program last week.

At Sears Canada, only the catalogs offer the full 40 colors; stores will carry up to 20 colors, depending upon store size.

“We don’t have the bath accessories or bath rugs as part of the assortment right now, only the towels,” Salter said, adding that the company expects to have the other components in June.

“In our stores, the Royal Velvet towels will have the back wall dominance. With that spectrum, you just can’t give it the back seat,” she said. “Pending consumer response to the brand and color assortment, we’ll consider the next levels of commitment (for bath accessories and bath rugs). We’re very excited about the brand because it has really been revamped and re-colored.”

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