Bloomies trades up with Provence

Carole Sloan, August 26, 2002

Home textiles are among the driving forces for the home furnishings promotion based on Provence that Bloomingdale's will launch in mid-September, part of the strategy to move its merchandise mix up several notches in fashion and quality.

"The look of Provence came up so much in shows in Paris and Frankfurt earlier this year," Joe Laneve, senior vp, home at Bloomingdale's related. "And Lester [Gribetz, vp, home fashion] said 'we have so much in home textiles and furniture, we could create the theme with what we have, expand on it and begin programs in tabletop, gifts and housewares' and so we did."

"It's part of a campaign Lester and I have had since he joined us to head our home fashions efforts in 2000. We're working very hard to bring synergy and congruence to our merchandise across all home lines. We're emphasizing fashion and quality of merchandise, and of course, value."

The Provence promotion follows the successful Everything is Coming Up Roses theme that the home division launched for spring. "We're using these and other activities to separate us from the normal department store and bring us closer to the better specialty stores. We've been redirecting our efforts over the past 18 months with conscious decisions to move from moderate and better to more bridge in Only@Bloomingdales or brand situations," Laneve added.

For Provence, the store has created a country French shop of about 4,000 square feet on the furniture floor that will house a cross-section of home merchandise. The adjacent gift area for Provence will showcase a collection of pillows, bedding, draperies, table linens and a chaise created just for the Provence event by Traditional by Pamela Kline. The fabrics are typical Provence themes — paisleys and stripes of different scale — in khaki, red, red and yellow.

On the home textiles floor, Gribetz said there are three exclusive top of the bed designs, as well as three quilt designs. Table linens tie-in with the expanded tabletop collections and are all jacquard designs. Overall, in tabletop, Laneve said, there is a push to create an assortment that is more gift and collectibles driven. "And we're looking to expand the whole world of casual in a different way, but not at the expense of Lenox, Wedgwood and Orrefors."

Housewares also is relooking the "gift piece of the business," Laneve said, "and we're bringing in a whole open-stock assortment in dinnerware and stemware and looking hard at editing sku's in electrics."

Through the home areas Provence will be evident with its fragrances and flowers. "Lavender, an early arrival already is blowing out in flowers," Gribetz said. Others will include sunflowers and poppies.

The promotion breaks with a multi-page catalog in mid-September and all stores will tie-in with the event. "There will be a plethora of visual excitement through the store" including promotional signage on all ready to wear floors, Laneve added.

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