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Croscill Crafts Its Future

Core Brand, Extensions, International Key

In the wake of a top management restructuring, Croscill Home is pursuing a multi-pronged agenda: buttress the core brand, nurture existing brand extensions, explore niche market opportunities and boost international expansion.

"Sometimes change is an important part of the process," said ceo Doug Kahn, third-generation head of the family-owned business. "After the initial disruption, you hope to rejuvenate the organization and get people looking at the businesses in new ways."

Under the new structure, 13-year Croscill veteran and bath accessories guru Carl Lagreca has become president and chief merchandising officer.

Another Croscill veteran, Lydia Irwin, has been named vp design director overseeing bedding, window and bath. Pegeen Cooper, also a Croscill fixture, has been elevated to vp merchandising/product manager for bath. Jack Mahon is now vp merchandising/product manager for window. Michelle LaRovere, who joined the company earlier this year, was named vp merchandising product/manager bedding.

Despite some speculation to the contrary, Croscill will not start pursuing lower-end and mass market business, Lagreca said.

"Our customers don't want us to compete in the down and dirty," he added. "They never have; they still don't."

Instead, Croscill will focus on providing "exceptional value" at the better end of its customers' assortments. That won't preclude the company from getting into multi-piece sets, said Kahn, "But we're going to try to do our own take on it. Kudos to those who started it, but as an industry, you can take a good idea too far."

In terms of brand extensions, the opulent Croscill White Label collection is growing incrementally in better department stores. More important, it has "showed retailers there's a more decorative way to do things," said Lagreca, and has sparked conversations about how to execute similar looks at sharper price points.

Croscill Cotton, the all-natural program introduced during the February market, will ship its first installment this fall. New designs will be expanded for the upcoming September market, he said.

The print-driven, mix-and-match District line — which appeals to a younger, more contemporary consumer — and the woven Metropolitan line targeting a similar audience, are likely to merge in some form. "They can be the same thing. It's definitely a lifestyle, and we will be addressing it," said Lagreca.

In the meantime, Croscill is incrementally pushing at niche businesses with its pet beds, lamps, occasional furniture and decorative accents pieces.

On the broader stage, the hiring of head of export Daphne O'Brien last year has opened up the international bed and bath business in Russia, Dubai and Mexico, Kahn told HTT. "We did $2.5 million last year. We'll probably double it."

Lagreca, now charged with overseeing the product development, sales and marketing of a venerable industry brand, has a firm sense of Croscill's mandate.

"We have to be better than most," he said. "What we put out there on the floor had better be something we're really proud of it. It has to be worthy of the name."

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