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Kmart launches a Boxer rebellion

Andrea Lillo, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, August 2, 2002

New York — In case you missed Mr. Licky parading up Lafayette Street last week, Joe Boxer has officially launched its irreverently jolly brand for apparel and home in Kmarts nationwide.

Kmart officially launched the program with a parade and fashion show at its Astor Place store here. The program, which rolled out to other stores about three weeks ago, "shot through the plan before we even advertised it," chairman and ceo Jim Adamson told HTT.

The biggest surprise: the sales pace in home, which originally was intended only for the Back-to-School season. The No. 1 seller is a brightly colored, faux fur dec pillow with a dog head on one corner. Basic bedding runs a close second.

The "limited-edition" home collection focuses on the Back-to-School segment, with a range of product categories spanning soft and hard goods, all in "LOL (Laugh-Out-Loud) packaging." An ironing board is called a "Press Kit," for example; a bedding ensemble, a "Snooze Kit"; a blanket, a "Fleece Officer"; and a shower curtain, a "Shower Shield."

"The collection is a great complement to the Martha Stewart brand," said Paula Paquette, vp, home, who particularly liked the clever packaging. "It hits a different market, the tweener market, with its brights, sense of humor, uniqueness of product and packaging."

She estimated that the home program is around 100 linear feet in each store, which includes the Joe Boxer impact area and the endcaps in the domestics department.

"The early results are very good," she said, singling out sheet sets, bright bed rests, decorative dog pillows and body pillows as some of the more popular items.

Price points include Snooze Kit bedding sets retailing between $39.99 to $49.99, twin extra-long sheet sets for $14.99, decorative and body pillows and bed rests from $2.99 to $9.99, shower curtains for $9.99, and two-piece towel sets for $7.99. Bath accessories, fleece throws and blankets, doormats, kitchen towels and dishcloths are among the offerings.

While no decisions have been made, Kmart is seriously looking at expanding the Joe Boxer Home collection beyond its Back-to-School efforts.

"Based on the sales success so far, there are a number of skus that could be important for gift-giving in the fourth quarter," Paquette said. Looking into next year, she said the home division will be evaluated on a sku-by-sku basis to see what can be incorporated into the year-round assortment.

If the company decides to move ahead with the gift-giving element, there is still opportunity for reorders, and in fact, reorders already are in the pipeline, she noted.

As one would expect with Joe Boxer, the launch party was a high-spirited affair. The main event ended with Joe Boxer chief underpants Officer Nicholas Graham marrying Mr. Licky to a model wearing a wedding dress made of plastic Kmart shopping bags. "Go forward and sell," Graham proclaimed at the completion.

Graham later told HTT that he was pleased with the results so far, saying that the product is turning three times as much as anticipated.

"This is definitely good news for Kmart," said Adamson. Even with the troubles Kmart has faced over the past year, he added, "Joe Boxer never blinked or asked any questions ... You are heroes."

Graham responded with his own gift to Adamson, a new Joe Boxer tool kit. "Here's to building a new Kmart," Graham said.

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