P'tex taps Tommy's 'basic' instincts

Heath E. Combs, Marvin Lazaro, February 11, 2002

Pillowtex's deal to produce Tommy Hilfiger basic bedding not only provides a much-needed boost to the mill's sagging pillow and pad business, but it also serves as the latest in a series of licensing extensions for Hilfiger home master licensee Revman Industries.

The sublicensing agreement signed last week between Revman and Kannapolis, NC-based Pillowtex Corporation for the production of a line of basic bedding may not initially make up for the Ralph Lauren Home basic bedding program Pillowtex lost in mid-2001, but it can certainly help.

Pillowtex lost nearly $19 million in sales last year after Lauren jumped to rival WestPoint Stevens according to a December filing with the SEC. Sales were further eroded by competition from imports and the economy's slide into recession last year. For the nine months ended September 2001, the latest period for which figures are available, sales in the division declined nearly 12 percent to $187.3 million, and gross profit plunged 41 percent to $21 million.

"We are excited to work with Tommy Hilfiger and Revman," said Matt Moses, vp, marketing, basic bedding for Pillowtex. "We believe Tommy Hilfiger to be the strongest designer in America today. Tommy's designs are the freshest and most innovative I have ever seen in basic bedding. Combined with our strength in distribution and quality, the Tommy Hilfiger product will create an exciting opportunity for both consumers and our retail partners."

Pillowtex will begin shipping the basic bedding line to department stores by April. The new sublicense authorizes Pillowtex to produce and market a line of synthetic and down pillows, pillow protectors, down comforters and throws, feather beds, bolsters and mattress pads.

Revman will work with Pillowtex to develop product and sales strategy, but Pillowtex will sell the line, according to Revman president and ceo Rich Roman. He also added that Revman will display some of the basic bedding line in its showroom during the spring market for reference.

"[Pillowtex's Hilfiger products] will help some of our products do better, and ours will help some of theirs," Roman said. "The new license will certainly reinforce the home business for Tommy Hilfiger."

For Revman, the deal is the latest in a series of brand extension deals it has shepherded. Last week, the company also launched a home collection for trendy apparel designer Nicole Miller, which encompasses bed, bath and home storage. In addition, it announced the creation of a silk flower program — Laura Ashley Flowers — to extend its Laura Ashley home license.

The signing of the sublicense with Pillowtex follows the statements made by Norm Savaria, senior vp and chief merchandising officer for Revman, last fall about his company's desire to broaden the collection's offerings.

"We want to intensify the consumer's relationship with the brand as a home brand as well as an apparel brand," Savaria told Home Textiles Today during fall market 2001. "I think the next step is expanding the brand into other home classifications."

Revman has been the producer, marketer and distributor of the Tommy Hilfiger Home bedding and bath line since 1997. In addition to the Hilfiger and Ashley licenses, Revman currently produces and markets home lines for Echo and Marimekko, as well as its own P.O.S.H. line.

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