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Waverly adds value to bedding

New York — Those attending the Sixth Annual Waverly Place Learning Conference late last week saw some major changes made to the Waverly Luxury bedding ensemble line as well as some heated discussion about Waverly's exclusive bed and bath program at Target.

Held in East Rutherford, NJ, and hosted by Waverly's parent company, FSC Wallcoverings, more than 110 independent retailers were also introduced to a plethora of new designs in wallcoverings and were given an in-depth look at Waverly Place.

Changes in the Waverly Luxury bedding ensemble collection will add greater value to the program at no added cost or changes to the retail structure, said Evan Melnick, vp, sales and merchandising for Waverly Home Fashions.

The biggest revision will be to sheets, which will now be offered in a 100 percent cotton, 240-count sateen. King-size sheets will now be sized at 110" x 96" from 105" x 95", while queen sheets will go up to 92" x 96" from 87" x 95". For top-of-bed items, retailers will have the option of original Waverly piece goods on the comforter face with wide printed sateen for the coordinate pattern or a 240-count sateen construction across all of the components.

Many new patterns will also be introduced for fall 2001. Alsace, Garden Lane, Northampton, Oriental Toile and Villa Carlotta will all debut.

Despite the good feelings that abounded throughout the crowd on the conference's opening day, some discontent arose during discussion of Target's Waverly Garden line, with attendees voicing concern about the quality of the mass market product and the potential impact on Waverly's up-market image.

"I feel very strongly about the Target program," said Christiane Michaels, Waverly Lifestyle Group's president/general manager. "It's all about giving consumers access to very good products and designs. Remember, there's always a point of difference between you — the independent, upper-scale retailers — and stores like Target."

Later, Michaels said she wasn't surprised by the dissention and, in fact, had expected it to some degree.

"Feathers sometimes get ruffled when a big retailer enters the picture," she said. "[The Target program] is good for Waverly. It's in the spirit of Waverly, and it's nothing to be ashamed of."

John Fitzgerald, president/ general manager of FSC Home Interiors Group, echoed Michaels' sentiments, adding, "The feedback has been positive from salespeople. That program is helping drive customers into independent stores."

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