• Jennifer Marks

Anna's Linens Makes Plans for Expansion

Upgrades Marketing, Staff for Growth

In a sign of growing clout, Anna's Linens hosted its first vendor summit, drawing approximately 45 suppliers to the Hyatt Regency Hotel here in conjunction with the retailer's annual managers meeting.

Anna's currently operates 246 stores in 20 states and will cross the 300-store mark in early 2008. At the recent managers meeting, executives talked of one day running 1,000 stores.

HTT research pegged Anna's 2005 home textiles sales volume at $250 million, a 16.8% increase over the prior year. When the 2006 results are tallied this summer for HTT's annual Top 50 Retailers report, chairman Alan Gladstone predicts Anna's will land within striking distance of the top 10.

"We've come a long way," Gladstone told the crowd during the company awards banquet. (For the list of vendor award winners, see page 14.) "We've got further to go. But I like our chances."

It isn't just Anna's store count that's getting beefier. The company has begun stepping up its marketing profile, which previously was circular-based. Last November, Anna's debuted its first television ads in southern California; the chain has 80 stores in the Golden State. Anna's expanded the programming to five additional markets in December, with more to come.

The impact was "absolutely beyond what we expected," Gladstone said. "On TV, we attracted more of our own demographic customer as well as a new profile."

To support growth, the company last year began making significant capital investments in IT systems, supply chain upgrades and staff. Anna's brought in new executives in finance, store operations and human resources, each with experience at Fortune 500 companies. Anna's also expanded its buying and allocations teams.

Anna's growth today is self-funded. The company in 2005 began doing the legwork to go public, but postponed the plan following damage to its Gulf Coast stores by Hurricane Katrina. The IPO plan was tabled last year.

An IPO is not out of the question, Gladstone said, but it is not a goal in itself. At the earliest, it wouldn't happen until 2008, he added.

"Wall Street by its nature grades you on short-term results. It's an issue we have been wrestling with," Gladstone said. "Our desire and goal is to be a great company. Whether that's public or private is another matter."

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HTT Cover October 2017

See the October 2017 issue of Home & Textiles Today. In this issue, we look at the Top 25 Online Retailers.  H&TT's exclusive annual ranking of the biggest online sellers of home textiles finds that while pure play etailers continue to fly, bricks & clicks are digging into omnichannel. See details!