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Picking up steam

Jennifer Marks, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, December 16, 2002

So much for 2002. What counts now is 2003, and following the upheavals, contractions and all-around bare-knuckled scrappiness of the year past, some suppliers are clearly heading into the next 12 months with the wind at their backs. In alphabetical order, they are:

American Pacific: The West Coast importer is quickly raising its brand visibility. Its powerful Nautica license is being joined by two more heavyweight labels: Docker's, which debuted during the October market, and Liz Claiborne, which will return to the home category next year after nearly a decade's absence.

CHF: Securing the Donna Karan Home license will catapult this comeback kid into the upstairs department store realm, but it was simply icing on the cake for the Park Avenue idea factory. CHF goes into 2003 with a unique stable of lifestyle brands from the apparel and home décor worlds, both cutting-edge and retro, targeting a broad range of consumer age groups as well as retail channels.

Divatex: This hard-charging importing house continues to go great guns with leading retailers, and an examination of its flannel program alone speaks volumes about the diversity of its global sourcing network. Its signature achievement in 2002 was landing the Joseph Abboud bedding license — and transporting it to a whole new level of construction.

Maples: The telephone lines were humming throughout the summer about this rug-maker's aggressive pursuit of market share, and the buzz reached a fever pitch when Maples snatched a $25 million mass-market bath rug program away from its leading rival. That move alone will propel Maples over the $200 million sales mark next year, and the company remains the only purely rug-producing supplier among the Top 15.

Springs: Asked during the October market which supplier had impressed him most, one of the top home retailers didn't skip a beat before giving his reply: Springs. Its acquisitions this year of Beaulieu's $125 million area rug business and Burlington House's $190 million window and bedding business have positioned Springs as the mill with the Big Mo going into 2003.

Sure Fit: This slipcover maker not only dominates its category like a colossus with placements ranging from the mass market to the upstairs market, it continues to post solid double-digit annual sales growth. If Sure Fit meets its sales target for this year, it could join the ranks of the Top 15 Home Textiles Suppliers. And its burgeoning catalog and Internet business might just land its consumer-direct business in the company of the Top 50 Home Textiles Retailers as well.

It's worth noting that the Class of 2003 includes both powerhouse players and those with a more modest scope of products. The moral: You don't always have to be the biggest to be among the brightest.

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