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Bloomingdale's Makes a Statement

New York — Bloomingdale’s home store is making a major statement with new product and innovative marketing concepts that will launch next week with Hotspot:Home, the department store’s fall catalog – a dramatic departure from typical retail home books.

New product launches as well as fashion- forward value products are highlighted in the 48-page book, which features a cover reminiscent of classic black and white movies and highlights six of the major statements inside. Designer interviews also are spotlighted among the introductions.

A key element of the marketing event is the debut of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams decorative bedding that will be cross-merchandised with the existing and expanded furniture collection from the duo, which has been a growing part of the store’s furniture assortment since late 2008.

In a radical departure from conventional retailing, where both home textiles and furniture product from the same designer are rarely cross-merchandised, the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams bedding from CHF Inds. is being featured on Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams beds on the furniture floor and the beds are a key element of the decorative bedding presentation on the home textiles floor.

Signage and cross-merchandising by sales personnel are a key part of the potential success of the program, said Joe Laneve, senior vp, home for the upscale department store chain. Sales, however, will be confined to their respective divisions.

The performance of the furniture after its introduction in the latter part of ’08 inspired Liz Bailey, vp for home textiles, to suggest the opportunity for a related program in decorative bedding. “We had a nice success with the furniture from the start. We thought it would fill a void on our floors, and it took off even more. It’s not traditional, not contemporary — and it’s not cheap,” Laneve remarked.

“The furniture piece is growing. We now have the full catalog available on special order, and we’re looking to expand. It’s an important part of our effort to communicate good/better/best with style,” explained Jim Coia, vp for furniture.

Ironically, Gold was reluctant at first to move into a department store environment, having grown the company largely through major specialty home furnishings retailers, select furniture specialty retailers and more recently, the company’s owned and related namesake stores. He began his career decades ago as a member of Bloomingdale’s home furnishings team.

When the concept of home textiles first was articulated, “we went to CHF and talked to [chairman, president and ceo] Frank Foley, and in less than six months they had product ready. It represents a lifestyle, a point of view we hadn’t had before. It’s versatile, has unique details like its reversibility and some very common sense approaches,” Laneve pointed out.

“The whole bedding concept began with the success of the furniture that happened almost immediately,” said Bailey. “There was the simplicity of design and colors, and it was well priced. It was a natural for home textiles. It filled a void of simplicity, gender neutral and not just a basic look – a certain something,” she added. “We introduced Mitchell and Bob to Frank and Joan [Karron, evp] at CHF and they just hit it off. Frank and Joan really got it.”

Some 10 Bloomingdale’s stores have full shop concepts with the bedding and furniture, with two upholstered beds as feature pieces. In all there are six beds in the bedding collection and two solid color sheets with duvets at $199 to $249 and sheets for $199, all queen size.

As for the products’ creators, “we’re doing national ads on the combined bedding and furniture. What we’re doing is not really a new approach but more a way to make it easy and make customers aware of what is available,” said Gold. Next on the agenda for Gold and Williams is a collection of towels, again with CHF.

In addition to the six lead pages in the new catalog for the MG+BW products, in home textiles the store is headlining its collection of Josie Natori merchandise for the bed and bath while launching the Natori Dynasty and towel collection from JLA Home and Loftex, respectively. In addition, the book includes a question and answer feature with the designers. HTT

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