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Bows initiatives for 4Q

Though textiles continues to be a soft area for Linens 'N Things, the retailer last week discussed its strategies to improve within the category as it heads into the fourth quarter.

Linens has "initiatives aimed at driving customer traffic and increasing the average transaction for the very important holiday season," said Steve Silverstein, president, during a conference call with analysts.

Despite the economy, Norman Axelrod, chairman and ceo, felt that the fourth quarter has an "upside potential for sales," and said he believes people will travel less this holiday season and spend more time at home, translating into more spending on the home.

One successful area for the retailer has been the Nautica Home bed, bath and table program that bowed in May. "This fashion brand has exceeded our plans and has been well received by our guests," said Silverstein, and has now been expanded from 80 stores to all 329 stores.

In addition, the retailer has enjoyed positive results with new introductions in quilts and bedding accessories. The fashion business will also be positively augmented with new introductions in quilts and accessories, as well as new introductions in duvets, warm products, and a new coordinate bedding and sheet program that complements its largest solid-color sheet program.

Silverstein also mentioned that inventories have been reduced on seasonal goods and upped on its core basics. "We'll achieve sell-through rates and lower markdowns on seasonal goods, and we'll be in a better position to support everyday businesses."

Gross margin has held up, Silverstein said, and LNT will take advantage of that strength by sharpening prices throughout the store on key items.

Several other initiatives include increasing marketing efforts for the holiday season, Axelrod said, and tight control of discretionary spending.

Regarding the subject of sourcing, Silverstein said that "though the industry overall has been weakened financially, we are aligned with the strongest suppliers." The company also has an in-house resource dedicated to global sourcing to provide flexibility in procuring product. "We do not anticipate a disruption in product flow for any important programs," he said.

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