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Home Textiles Today totes up the Top 5 vendors

NEW YORK -The textiles industry has finished its race for the first year of the millennium, and the results are in.

For the seventh consecutive year, Home Textiles Today has tallied the numbers for the Top 5. The listing, an exclusive to Home Textiles Today, covers 16 product categories and ranks top vendors by sales for 2000.

The Top 5 reflects estimates of calendar 2000 sales-unlike the Top 15 ranking (see story on page 8, listings on pages 8 and 9), which does not always coincide with the same time frame.

Home Textiles Today's editorial staff conducted interviews with manufacturers in all of the product categories (including some that didn't make the Top 5 in their products). They gained estimates of calendar 2000 sales for their own companies and some of their competitors.

Where it applied, the vendors combined sales data from various divisions within their companies.

The figures here reflect the staff's best estimate of sales in these products. They may not reflect the specific sales data provided by manufacturers.

This year HTT added a new category with a listing of the Top 5 bath accessories vendors. The biggest changes occurred in down comforters, in which four of the Top 5 vendors experienced double-digit increases.

These listings continue on page 10.

AREA RUGS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Mohawk Rug & Textiles, Sugar Valley, GA

$252

$237

6%

Successfully launched new chromajet-printed rug collection, gaining placement in nation's largest retailers.

2.

Beaulieu Home, Dalton, GA

125

120

4

Combined U.S. and Canadian operations. Signed alliance with Rainbow Rugs to contract all of its equipment. New product categories include chromajet-printed rugs.

2.

Maples Industries, Scottsboro, AL

125

115

9

Added new printing capability and new rug categories of kitchen, seasonal and novelty.

4.

Burlington House Floor Accents, Greensboro, NC

75

70

7

Closed tufting facility, affecting mostly accent though some bath. Area rug division added 12-frame rug collection, and accent division had continued success with Elegant Dimensions.

5.

Oriental Weavers, Dalton, GA

70

60

17

Introduced Bob Mackie licensed collection of area rugs.


WRAP-UP

Though it will affect next year's list more than this year's, the November announcement of Burlington House Floor Accents closing its tufting facility and exiting the business changed this arena slightly. In general, however, manufacturers find continued success in area and accent rugs, as consumers are willing to spend more on them and demand more fashionable looks in turn. Expanding areas of opportunity include printed rugs, especially the higher-end chromajet-printed rugs, higher-framed looms for greater definition and color, as well as new fiber systems.

BATH ACCESSORIES1


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Springs Industries, Fort Mill, SC

$70

N/A

N/A

Continued success with Palace collection, which added Palace Satin, brushed finishes in nickel and gold, and Wamsutta coordinate collection.

2.

Allure Home Creation, Boonton, NJ

60

N/A

N/A

Home of wildly successful scenic lotion pump, continues to add related items, like sound pumps.

3.

Creative Bath Products, Central Islip, NY

45

N/A

N/A

The clear leader in injection-molded plastic accessories, also has lines of ceramic, glass, resin and wood in open line and licensed collections.

4.

Croscill Home, New York

35

N/A

N/A

Focusing on department and specialty stores, fashion-forward looks come in glass, metal, resin, and more. Collection has coordinates to bedding patterns as well as freestanding lines.

5.

Ex-Cell Home Fashions, New York

8

N/A

N/A

Offers many collections, including coordinating groups to Fieldcrest and Claire Murray licenses.


1This category is new for 2000, and so sales figures for 1999 were unavailable.

WRAP-UP

Though a new Top 5 category, bath accessories has grown tremendously, and has truly traded up from the basic plastic. Now both functional and fashionable, accessories command a solid presence in bath shop, as both coordinates or freestanding, from the mass on up. Both novel, well-priced lines and higher-end collections find room. Though the lotion pump, tumbler, soap dish, wastebasket, tissue box holder and toothbrush holder are the basic six items, manufacturers are finding consumers are open to buying additional pieces, like trays, carafes and potpourri dishes.

BATH RUGS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Mohawk Rug & Textiles, Sugar Valley, GA

$200

$190

5%

Completed the expansion of the Newmark/ Townhouse line with upscale retailers, and penetrated high end of the market with Karastan for the Bath collection.

2.

Springs Industries, Fort Mill, SC

150

150

0

Though solid color is still strong part of this business, the company finds more fashionable shaped rugs are picking up.

3.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

50

55

-9

Continued its business in bath rug programs.

4.

Maples Industries, Scottsboro, AL

49

45

9

Picked up a number of private label programs.

5.

Georgia Tufters, Calhoun, GA

35

35

0

This year the company secured a branded program at the mass level as well as a private label at a specialty store chain.


WRAP-UP

The bath rug category experienced no major shifts this year-though this area was affected a bit by Burlington's exit from the tufted business. It continues to be driven solely by towel colors, an overwhelmingly majority being solid color. However, fashionable looks are making inroads, as consumers are willing to place shaped rugs and other accent rugs in the room as well. And as bathrooms become larger, larger rugs grow in demand as well.

BATH TOWELS1


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Pillowtex, Dallas

$630

$660

-5%

A year marked by difficult review of brand performance with an eye toward sku reduction and jettisoning less-profitable lines.

2.

WestPoint Stevens, New York

620

650

-5

Expansion of Grand Patrician proved a bright spot, but business was hampered by increasing competition from imports and retail slowdown.

3.

Springs Industries, Fort Mill, SC

225

215

5

Invested $66 million to modernize facilities that produce towels, and consolidated plants.

4.

Santens, Anderson, SC

44

45

-2

Growth has shifted to the two-year-old embroidered towel business, which Santens produces on its own jacquard woven blanks.

5.

1888 Mills2, Griffin, GA

27

26

4

Expanding sales in the upper tier segment has driven business in 2000 for this niche player.


1. Includes retail and institutional channels

2. Formerly 1888 Group-Southern Terry.

WRAP-UP

The domestic towel market was increasingly hard hit by import programs. It also is threatened by retailers focusing on building their own house brands as well as sourcing directly overseas. The effects of plant slowdowns, consolidation and erosion of share to importers is reflected in the fact that three of the Top 5 manufacturers had declining sales for 2000. The biggest signs of the times were shifts of department store labels to the mass market: Springs decision to offer its Springmaid brand at Wal-Mart and WestPoint Stevens's deal to create an exclusive Martex offering for Target.

BLANKETS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Sunbeam Corp., Boca Raton, FL

$110

$120

-8%

Facing fresh competition from two new suppliers of automatic blankets, sales dropped off. But leap-frogged troubled Pillowtex into No. 1 spot.

2.

WestPoint Stevens, New York

108

97

11

Vellux continues to grab market share, and a new Vellux plant opens in Greenville, AL. Cuts deal to buy Chatham.

3.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

105

121

-13

Blanket sales continue long slide as distracted company focuses on financial woes.

4.

Charles D. Owen Mfg., Swananoa, NC

94

90

4

Aggressively expanding capacity as it builds platform for substantial growth. Licensed business booming.

5.

Chatham Consumer Products, Elkin, NC

28

20

40

Sales surge, driven by Springs and Wamsutta licenses. Later, switching sides, company agrees to be bought by WestPoint Stevens.


WRAP-UP

In a year of sudden and dramatic shifts in this normally placid industry, Pillowtex sales continue to erode as the company deals with rapidly escalating financial problems, creating opportunities for its rivals. Quick to capitalize, WestPoint Stevens cut a deal to buy Chatham, adding a full array of conventional blankets to its best-selling Vellux line. Owen continues to ramp up production and makes big gains in its rapidly growing cotton bedspread business. In automatics, Sunbeam, which once had the field to itself, is challenged by two newcomers, Biddeford Mills and PerfectFit.

COMFORTERS/BEDSPREADS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Springs, Fort Mill, SC

$400

$350

12.5%

Two strong quarters in the beginning of the year helped Springs post a healthy gain.

2.

Dan River, New York

195

185

5

Dan River's Martha Stewart program helped fuel its rise in sales and keep it at number-two.

3.

WestPoint Stevens, New York

195

180

7

A bigger share of the market gave WPS a boost and a share of the number-two spot.

4.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

145

150

-3

Until Pillowtex regains its feet, Croscill will probably pull even closer as time passes.

5.

Croscill, New York

134

129

3

Better decorative fabrics and better management of sourced, imported textiles helped Croscill gain ground.


WRAP-UP

Nothing much, in terms of the ranking, has changed in this category but there are plenty of possibilities down the road. Pillowtex faced the biggest upheaval this past year due to its bankruptcy filing and faces the challenge of digging itself out of Chapter 11 for 2001 and beyond. WPS is hoping it continues to grab more market share from its competitors and post even stronger numbers. Springs' Wamsutta Bedroom Solutions, Wamsutta Honeycomb comforters and Egyptian cotton comforters continue to more than hold their own in the marketplace.

CURTAINS/DRAPERIES


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Burlington, New York

$125

$120

4%

Pinch pleats continue to drive Burlington's window business, but that market may dry up soon.

1.

S. Lichtenberg, New York

125

115

8

Strong prints, and excellent distribution, have catapulted Lichtenberg to a share of the top spot.

3.

CHF Industries, New York

97

97

0

Numbers from its hookless program will give CHF a boost in 2001.

4.

Miller Curtain, San Antonio

75

93

-24

Miller was especially hurt by slow retail sales and a change in its systems software.

5.

Croscill, New York

70

67

4

Croscill continues its slow but steady rise and could overtake Miller soon.


WRAP-UP

S. Lichtenberg was the big winner, while Miller Curtain took the largest hit in 2000. If Lichtenberg's sales continue to grow at this rate, Burlington may find itself dethroned and playing catch-up. Given time, New York-based Guilford Home Fashions ($57 million in sales) could find itself in the Top 5, while Croscill narrowed the gap between the fourth spot. Many manufacturers are placing more and more emphasis on stronger patterns and better fabrics, which will ultimately leave the less innovative and design-conscious struggling to stay alive.

DECORATIVE PILLOWS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Brentwood Originals, Carson, CA

$107

$103

4%

Began year down 1 to 2 points; made a comeback with animal prints and had its "biggest months ever" Aug. to Nov., vp, Loren Sweet said.

2.

Arlee, New York

53

50

6

Reduced novelty from half to less than one-third of entire business and increased basic solids to 70 percent.

3.

Mohawk, Sugar Valley, GA

24

16

50

Hired new stylists and established licenses, including Wild Wings; also created new vinyl zipper bag sets of a decorative pillow with matching throw.

4.

Newport, Portland, OR

21

21

0

Key customer base did a little better this year and did not suffer financially.

4.

Fashion Pillows, Griffin, GA

21

21

0

Opened new accounts with catalog companies; also provided on-trend product and turned it over quickly.


WRAP-UP

The decorative pillow category last year boomed for some and remained flat for others. Consumers reduced spending, "separating their 'gotta haves' from their 'nice to haves'," said Pat Moyer, vp of marketing at Mohawk, the only newcomer to this year's list, at the expense of New York-based Ex-Cell Home Fashions. Also, novelty shrank and basics increased. "Basic solids allow consumers to get more life out of their pillows. Instead of every three months, they can change them every six months," Arlee ceo and president Bud Frankel said. Stores are giving decorative pillows less shelf space.

DOWN COMFORTERS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Pacific Coast Feather, Seattle

$105

$74

30%

PCF continues its strong growth, vaulting this year to the top spot.

2.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

76

76

0

Down comforters is the only category in which Pillowtex held its ground.

2.

Hollander, Boca Raton, FL

52

40

24

Continual recognition of evolving market segments has fueled Hollander's success rate.

4.

Down Lite International, Loveland, Ohio

32

26

21

After a relatively poor 1999, Down Lite comes back strong and into the Top 5 for the first time.

5.

Phoenix Down, Totowa, NJ

31

24

23

Phoenix Down continues to quietly grow and post strong gains.

5.

United Feather & Down, Des Plaines, IL

31

21

32

Recognition of UF & D's color program has helped it post the largest percentage gain in the category.


WRAP-UP

Higher oil and down costs, not to mention colder temperatures, have led to higher retail price points and have helped this category's numbers grow despite an overall weak retail picture. The average gain was 22 percent, with only Pillowtex failing to post a better number than last year. "I think the industry is trying to focus on producing better product because the marketplace demands it," said United Feather & Down's Brandon Palmer, executive vp, about the caliber of goods now being made.

KITCHEN TEXTILES


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Barth & Dreyfuss, Los Angeles

$59

$59

0%

President/ceo Tom Healy left in Sept. after 12 years. Buddy Munday promoted to chairman, but no replacement for Healy named yet.

2.

Franco Mfg., Metuchen, NJ

48

45

7

Added Hanes license in all of its categories and signed agreement for Laura Ashley license in kitchen textiles.

2.

Cecil Saydah, Los Angeles

48

44

9

At the end of last year, Harold Schierholt was appointed president, replacing Richard Saydah, who became chairman of the board.

4.

John Ritzenthaler/Standard Terry1, West Conshohocken, PA

30

18

67

Both long-time family-owned manufacturers, Ritzenthaler and Standard Terry merged this past May.

5.

Charles Craft, Laurinburg, NC

19

18

6

This year the company installed all new air jet looms and finishing equipment, so its greige plant is now entirely state-of-the-art.


1This year Ritzenthaler's sales include sales for Standard Terry.

WRAP-UP

Though several of the Top 5 companies in this category underwent some management changes, overall the category remained stable. Promotional goods are still big business, though some manufacturers are seeing a surge up to better-quality goods at some levels. This is another category that finds brand names beneficial, and includes licenses like Franco's Hanes and Laura Ashley, John Ritzenthaler's Weber and Standard Terry's Tabasco. The new company formed by the latter two was the biggest gainer this year, with a 67 percent increase over last year's sales.

MATTRESS PADS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Louisville Bedding, Louisville, KY

$99

$86

13%

Solid programs, trading up and higher prices kept Louisville in the top spot.

2.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

70

71

-1

With a million dollar drop here, it's the smallest of the hits Pillowtex has taken in the survey.

3.

Perfect Fit, New York

65

65

0

Fewer, but larger, programs didn't help this year, but an increase is possible for 2001.

4.

Pacific Coast Feather, Seattle

19

16

16

Consumer-driven innovation has helped PCF post the largest percentage gain of the Top 5.

5.

Hollander, Boca Raton, FL

11

14

-27

Hollander posts the only decline for the category among the Top 5.


WRAP-UP

The status quo remained this year, with Pacific Coast Feather posting the largest percentage gain and widening the gap between itself and Hollander, which lost some ground. Louisville's trade-up story has helped expand its sales. Innovation is another buzzword in the industry, with manufacturers trying to introduce newer and better products in a relatively quiet category. Although Pillowtex and Perfect Fit posted little or no gain, the gap between them and the bottom half is probably too big for Nos. 4 and 5 to overcome anytime soon.

SHEETS & PILLOW CASES1


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

WestPoint Stevens, New York

$670

$698

-4%

Positives: introduction of Polo sheet and extension of exclusive Martex line at Target. Negatives: Retailer inventory tightening.

2.

Springs Industries, Fort Mill, SC

650

650

0

The bold shift of Springmaid into mass market has had mixed results, but sales velocity has helped match last year's category volume.

3.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

245

260

-6

A year of tough choices, as company began to exit less profitable lines.

4.

Dan River, New York

220

210

5

The year's coup: landing Martha Stewart Everyday license at Kmart. Strong growth in the juvenile business also helped category.

5.

Thomaston Mills, Thomaston, GA

91

90

1

Private label helped bump business in general, while bed in the bag trend is tightening available space for open sheeting programs.


1. Includes retail and institutional research

WRAP-UP

The seeds of change for the sheet and pillowcase category began sprouting in 2000, with changes that were more revolutionary than evolutionary. Springmaid and WestPoint each shifted a venerable department store brand into the mass market (at Wal-Mart and Target, respectively); and Dan River nabbed the Martha Stewart Everyday program. WestPoint Stevens snapped up the Disney license that had been produced for a quarter of a century by Springs.

SHOWER CURTAINS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Springs Industries, Fort Mill, SC

$70

$70

0%

Among new designs, expanded sheers, using laser cut and appliques, and added new Pat Farrell designs and more tweener looks.

2.

Allure Home Creation, Boonton, NJ

67

65

3

Continued expansion in shower curtains, including a successful program of photo print curtains in both vinyl and fabric.

3.

Ex-Cell Home Fashions, New York

61

59

3

Expanded Fieldcrest, Royal Velvet and Cannon licensed product and added Claire Murray license.

4.

Creative Bath Products, Central Islip, NY

29

29

0

Added Joe Boxer license, targeting the youth market, as well as Pamela Ferrari, an Italian painter.

5.

Maytex Mills, Yonkers, NY

26

25

4

Increased capacity and added modern equipment and warehouse capacity.


( ): Denotes loss

WRAP-UP

Consumers spending money on the bedroom want their bathrooms to be up to par as well, and this year bed and bath coordination was stronger than ever. Patterns for the master bedroom migrated to the master bath as well (or, as was the case for a pattern at Croscill, it was the reverse). In addition, there was a surge in special-looking vinyl shower curtains, whether it was 3-D looks, photorealism or curtains with pockets. Fabric shower curtains also continue to do well, and include a variety of embroideries, sheer, cotton, rayon, suede and such.

SLEEP PILLOWS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Pillowtex, Kannapolis, NC

$160

$165

-3%

The 3 percent decline here was among the smaller hits Pillowtex took throughout the survey.

2.

Pacific Coast Feather, Seattle

119

106

11

PCF continues its strong growth and keeps Hollander at bay.

3.

Hollander, Boca Raton, FL

98

100

-2

Hollander may find itself fighting with AFI for the No. 3 spot in the near future.

4.

Springs/American Fiber Industries, Fort Mill, SC

93

71

24

The acquisition of AFI by Springs gave it a strong foothold in the category. The top 3 could undergo a shake-up soon.

5.

WestPoint Stevens/Liebhardt Mills, New York

55

51

7

The combination of LMI and WPS could result in more growth and bigger market share as time passes.


WRAP-UP

Pillowtex retains its rank, but its recent financial problems led to a slight loss for the year with the possibility of darker days looming if the Kannapolis, NC-based home textiles manufacturer cannot right itself. Competitors are giving it their best effort to catch up. Pacific Coast Feather and Springs/American Fiber Industries posted the largest gains in the category. PCF's gains may be more significant since it primarily uses natural fill for its products, but the breadth of the Springs/AFI product offering may prove to be the difference in the long run.

TABLE LINENS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Town & Country Living/Brownstone, Lakewood, NJ

$96

$90

7%

Expanded branded programs at several mass retailers as well as bowed Ralph Lauren line, under Brownstone division, at department stores.

2.

Bardwil Industries, New York

50

50

0

Continued to grow Pillowtex licensed program lines of Royal Velvet, Charisma and Fieldcrest.

3.

Elrene Mfg., New York

39

35

11

Continued to expand licensed programs, including Villeroy & Boch and Sunbeam.

4.

AvonHome, Braintree, MA

37

35

6

Changing name from Avon Home Fashions, signed a table linen licensing agreement with Croscill Home, as well as expanded into new product categories.

5.

Ex-Cell Home Fashions, New York

23

25

-8

Expanded Pfaltzgraff license and added the Claire Murray license.


WRAP-UP

A small part of the domestics business, the table linen category saw the entrance of major brand names this year. Collections such as Bardwil's Royal Velvet, Brownstone's Ralph Lauren, and Waterford from W-C Designs, which almost made this year's list, capitalize on consumers' awareness and acceptance of these brands, as well as increase the profile of the table linen category. Elrene Mfg. was the biggest gainer in the category this year, with an 11% increase over last year's sales.

THROWS


'00 sales ($mil.) '99 sales ($mil.) % Chg. Comments

1.

Crown Crafts, Atlanta

$90

$107

-16%

With sales still tumbling in cotton jacquards, Crown sold woven products business to Mohawk, keeping the $5 million Goodwin Weavers hand-woven throw unit.

2.

Manual Woodworkers & Weavers, Henderson, NC

75

71

6

Fast growing accessories segment spurs continued sales growth; designer Cheri Blum hits home run. Building 170,000 sq. ft. warehouse.

3.

Mohawk Rug and Textiles Division, Sugar Valley, GA

60

52

15

Rapidly building core acrylic throw business, Mohawk sales should explode next year as it adds about $85 million in Crown Crafts sales.

4.

Biederlack of America, Cumberland, MD

44

43

2

Beyond core throw business, debuted Timlin Hills decorative pillow group with much fanfare. Making a comeback: high-pile acrylics and big sports licensed business.

5.

The Northwest Company, New York

23

21

10

Giving a lift to sales, Northwest saw a rebound in big sports licensed business. In a trade-up move, installing tapestry looms.


WRAP-UP

In a move that changes the size and shape of the playing field, Mohawk Industries acquired the $85 million Crown Crafts woven products business. Still sticking with the business in a small way, Crown is holding on to its $5 million Goodwin Weavers hand-woven throw business. Accessories continue to boost the business for cotton jacquard throw producers, with ceramics starting to make a big impact. Printed raschel knits continue to make inroads, and high-pile acrylics start to stage a comeback, supported by fresh strength in big-time sports licensed looks.

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