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Cuddledown warms up to wholesale

Andrea Lillo -- Home Textiles Today, February 17, 2003

Thirty years ago it sold down comforters through magazine advertising as a small mail-order company, but now Cuddledown has grown and will launch a new wholesale division launching at spring market.

From its first offering of Norwegian down comforters, Cuddledown has expanded to include a full range of down products — now all made here — as well as European bed linens, furniture, sleepwear, rugs and other items. Its catalog is mailed to more than 10 million people annually, said Chris Bradley, president, ceo and chairman. It also sells on its website, www.cuddledown.com, and through its outlet store in Freeport, ME.

About 30 percent of the catalog merchandise is down, Bradley said, and the next biggest category is bed linens, most of which are exclusive and made in Italy, France, Portugal and Israel.

This year, Cuddledown will have several firsts: It will become a wholesale manufacturer; a first-time exhibitor at the New York Home Textiles Show at the Javits Center; and offer its products to retailers.

"The product is the main thing whether you're a manufacturer or a retailer, and we're both," said Bradley, who bought the company 15 years ago after a career in finance in New York.

The wholesale division has been a work in progress for several years, he said, and solidified late last fall when he hired Chuck Cilley — a 30-year vet with such firms as Fieldcrest, Martex and WestPoint Stevens — as national sales manager.

The new division will provide wider exposure of its product, he said, especially since about 85 percent of retail sales for most product categories, including home textiles, are made in stores, with the balance done on the Internet or in a catalog.

The new 16-page catalog details the wholesale products available, which initially include the down products and some linens.

At market, one of the highlighted items is the dual warmth comforter system. Under a patent-pending design, the customer chooses from six qualities and six warmth levels, and the company will send her the two sections, which can be connected together by fasteners.

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