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CHF ready to spread its wings

Marvin Lazaro, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, September 30, 2002

CHF is broadening its reach beyond its core soft window coverings and juvenile ensembles. And for October market it is ratcheting up new licensed programs, deepening its bath coordinates assortment, recategorizing its youth-oriented bedding lines, inaugurating a joint merchandising venture with a hard window coverings powerhouse and launching its first line of beach product.

"The big story here is that we are fulfilling our goal of becoming a complete coordinate supplier and extending our identity as a much more important player in the marketplace," said Joan Karron, executive vp.

In licensing initiatives, CHF is resurrecting the venerable Vera archive in bed, beefing up the surfing lifestyle Ocean Pacific license it quietly unveiled during April market and selectively previewing the recently announced upscale collection of giftable bathware from rising British tabletop designer Nick Munro.

The Vera products all incorporate original designs by the designer and feature natural subjects such as butterflies and flowers. "We're finding that there's an attraction in things that [consumers] knew and enjoyed when they were younger," Karron said.

The Vera lineup consists of fully coordinated bed and bath items, including a bath rug for the first time. Butterfly and Fernery are available in bed and bath, while Daffodil is offered as bed products only. Also part of the line are free-standing shower curtains, two matte prints and one EVA vinyl construction, as well as eight free-standing bathroom accessory collections. The bedding will be offered as bed-in-a-bag with 200-count blend construction that is "priced competitively," said Bob Gehm, executive vp for bed and bath.

"This is for the new consumer who is touched by nostalgia," Karron said.

The fruits of the Ocean Pacific license are also brought to bear this market as CHF will unveil a fully coordinated bed and bath assortment. Tahiti Tattoo, Tiki Adventure and Moonlight Hula feature stylized surfboards, a popular shirt pattern and a retro postcard look, respectively. Bedding will be offered as bed-in-a-bag in twin and full/queen. Thread count, still to be finalized, is likely to be 200- or 180-count. Struck from the Ocean Pacific apparel patterns that are headed into stores for spring/summer 2003, the license also layers a more cutting-edge brand into CHF's portfolio for young consumers.

"It's definitely an alternative to anything out there," said president and ceo Frank Foley, "and it's inexpensive."

And for the first time CHF is introducing a beach towel line, also under the OP license. OP Surf Camp, Classic Stripe, Hula School, Tattoo Hula, Tiki Adventure, Bar Code, Surf Board and Flame Boardriding offer a variety of sculpted, jacquard and printed looks.

In the Nick Munro line, announced in late summer, CHF has been previewing only to a "narrow base" of retailers, Foley said.

"This isn't the sort of thing that should be picked apart as individual items and tossed on a shelf with the regular stuff," Foley said.

The line is notable for the materials it uses — nickel, plexiglass and bone china, among them — as well as the non-traditional items it encompasses: individual toothbrush holders resembling the dressy chopstick holders that characterize the height of zen chic, stacking nickel trays that potentially hold anything from a bar of soap to potpourri to hand towels, and wastebaskets with rounded collars that obscure trash from open view.

Meanwhile, CHF's juvenile bedding line has undergone a transformation to a three-tiered approach: opening price point, moderate and higher end. The My Room label (a conflation of the previous MyRoom for tweeners and My Room Too for kids) answers to the first; the newly named www.MyRoom.tv (an update of MyRoom.com that reflects the hot new URL in Internet-land) is under the second; and Reflections represents the third.

My Room lines include Starbrite, a celestial look with a glow-in-the-dark comforter; Howdy Partner, a Western look; Sports Explosion, a comic book athlete look; Peace & Love, a retro, hippie look; and Lemon Drop, an edgy floral. Howdy Partner has been supplemented with the Prairie Girl quilt to also give consumers a female option.

Sparkle Denim, with appliqued butterflies and sparkles; Capri, a Palm Beach look with ruffles; and Laugh In, a 3-D flower paired with a stripe, all fall under MyRoom.TV.

For Reflections, which uses cotton-based sheeting and "highly differentiated" top-of-bed constructions, fleece, chenille, vinyl and crochet serve as adornments.

Said Foley, "Our objective is to become more of a balanced supplier." Asked how long it would be before that objective is fulfilled, Foley replied, "Soon. Very soon."

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