Supplier Giants 2004: Rocky Year For Top 5

Don Hogsett, Staff Staff, January 10, 2005

New York — Over a year marked by uncertainty and intensifying competition, it may come as little surprise that the ranking of the Top 5 U.S. suppliers turned out a mixed bag of results.

While 46 percent of those that registered 2004 sales gains did so in double-digits, 44 percent of companies posting declines had double-digit fall-offs. Overall, 69 percent of the companies either eked out single-digit sales increases or came in flat over 2003.

Within individual product categories, results were equally mixed with one big exception: foam pillows/toppers. In that category, each supplier was a double-digit winner. The lowest sales gainer, Hudson Industries, posted a 22 percent jump in revenue. The biggest gainer, Sleep Innovations, boosted sales by 75 percent.

The only other category that came within reach was mattress pads, where three out of five vendors posted double-digit gains, one recorded a single-digit gain and one was flat.

Suppliers in the comforter category were hardest hit overall, with one posting a tiny sales increase and the other four showing sales declines of 9 to 24 percent.

Leading decorative pillow suppliers also experienced difficulty. Three out of five were flat and No. 3 Mohawk Home saw sales slide 10 percent. Only No. 1 Brentwood Originals added sales in the category during 2004, up a whopping 30 percent to $157 million.

The biggest winner in last year’s Top 50 survey — Springs Industries — gave back some of its gains. Allure, pushed out of the No. 1 spot in bath accessories a year ago, reclaimed the flag — and knocked Springs out of the No. 1 perch in shower curtains to boot.

Elsewhere, Springs held its previous year’s ranking, despite sales declines in eight of the 11 categories it charts on the survey. It took its biggest knock in the rug category, where sales declined 15 percentto $102 million, putting the size of the business at $23 million less than it was before Springs acquired it from Beaulieu in early 2002. Springs posted its biggest gain in the bath towel category, where sales grew 6.4 percent to $330 million, keeping it solidly in second position behind WestPoint Stevens.

Reverberations from Pillowtex’s demise in late summer 2003 continued to ripple out across the results, especially in the categories of bath rugs, bath towels and mattress pads.

In bath rugs, two players picked up significant pieces of business: Maples Industries, up 25 percent to $100 million, and Shaw Living, up 67 percent to $50 million.

There was only one new company to enter the Top 5 rankings this year: Town and Country, which grew its kitchen textiles sales by 75 percent to $35 million. It entered the ranking at No. 4 as previous No. 5 Charles Craft dropped off the ranking altogether. (Charles Craft recently announced it is exiting the category.)

Also in kitchen textiles, former No. 3 Cecil Saydah slid to No. 5 as sales tumbled 42 percent, allowing The John Ritzenthaler Co. to ascend to the No. 3 spot. Cecil Saydah last fall sold its kitchen textiles business to Glenoit.

The down comforter category also shuffled the deck as previous No. 2 Hollander Home Fashions dropped to No. 4 with a 12 percent sales decline. Previous No. 4 Phoenix Down leap-frogged over No. 3 Down Lite International to claim Hollander’s former position.

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