Sunham hopes STAR shines in bath

Marvin Lazaro, Staff Staff, November 4, 2002

Top-of-bed products and quilt producer Sunham Home Fashions is branching out into the bathroom with its new division, STAR Designs.

STAR, an acronym for Sunham Towel and Rugs, currently consists of a four-person staff all formerly from Springs Industries' Regal Rugs division: Joe Shafran, national sales manager; Jane Cooney, creative services director; Darlene Williams, product manager; and Michelle Sims, designer. Their experience adds up to more than 75 years in home textiles.

Four sales people have been contracted to rep the line and two more additions are planned.

"It's a high-energy company that's dedicated to developing this division and recognizes opportunities in the marketplace," Cooney told HTT. "They're putting their full resources behind this."

Sunham believes the contribution from the new division could add another 30 percent to sales over the next three years, according to sales manager Dean Davaros.

"We've had years of great growth, and we want to keep it going," he added. "We have unbelievable contacts and manufacturing capabilities overseas — combined with the experience these people bring to the table. It all fell into place perfectly for us."

STAR will focus initially on the rug side, more specifically bath and accent rugs, Cooney said. The plan eventually calls for STAR to expand into all categories of the bathroom, including shower curtains, bath accessories and towels. Since it is literally starting from scratch, Cooney said STAR plans to have Christmas introductions ready in time for the February mini-market and a complete line ready for viewing for the late March/early April market. The bath products are going to be sourced and play off the importing expertise already developed by the company's core top-of-bed division. "Presently, we're hard at work on developing the product line, and we are encouraged by the progress already made," she said.

Upstairs discounters to mid-tier department stores and up are the focus of the new division, Cooney added. "We're designing for a more select distribution channel, including upscale department stores and specialty stores that seek high-quality, valued-oriented products."

STAR is also hoping to develop bed and bath coordinates, thereby offering its potential customers, and Sunham's existing customer base, more of a lifestyle look and possibly opening up more doors for the entire Sunham product line. That being said, STAR is facing the challenge of taking a well-established company in an entirely different direction.

"It is a challenge," Cooney said. "But this opportunity is like an open book in that we get to write the story as we go. Based on the experience level we bring, we have a very clear outline to follow."

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