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Guilford lifts shower curtain profile

From a collection offering only 10 different styles, Guilford Home Fashions' shower curtain line has developed into a solid and steadily growing part of the company's overall business.

Guilford, the New York-based home textiles arm of Guilford Mills, introduced its small collection of shower curtains three years ago, with the majority of the line centering around lace and the company's expertise in lace window fashions. The line has since blossomed to represent approximately 8 percent of Guilford's business, with a sales growth rate of 40 percent to 50 percent each year.

"It has really just spiked for us, and the growth has been phenomenal," said Herb Briggs, president of Guilford Home Fashions. "It's been very gratifying."

From the original lace offerings, Guilford now showcases between 30 and 40 different new looks every market. From plain woven goods to novelties such as embroideries, appliques and air brushing as well as knits and, of course, lace, the company offers the curtains as either private label or under its own Blueprints line. Guilford will also continue to explore other constructions at the suggestion of retailers, such as all-cotton curtains.

Briggs credited Guilford's designers for the line's success, saying the collection is right on in look with well-chosen color palettes and with a designer feel to them. Guilford's pricing for the line, which centers around a promotional strategy and ranges in retail price point from $9.99 to $29.99.

Lace continues to be the cornerstone, but appliques, embroideries and solid textural fabrics lead the way in looks.

What may mark Guilford's shower curtains as unique is that the line is completely free-standing and does not include bathroom accessories or towels. And while Guilford has no plans to get into ceramics, the company is exploring tying in its Jockey Home and Karen Neuburger Home licensed collections to a line of shower curtains and towels and subsequently a line of rugs, which Briggs said "is in a very embryonic stage right now."

"Shower curtains went from zero to 8 percent of the business in only two years," Briggs said, "so obviously we intend to continue to expand."

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