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  • Cecile Corral

Cross-Pollination Kept Table Buzzing

New York — The table linens category in 2004 eked out a sales gain of 1.2 percent to $820 million that it managed during an otherwise lackluster year.

The gain was achieved by pursuing cross-coordination with related categories, like kitchen textiles, and placing a greater emphasis on upscale brands and designers licenses.

Names like Colin Cowie for bridal and Chris Madden for regular home at JCPenney, and Jonathan Adler by Elrene Home Fashions, among others, gave cachet to the category with these contemporary designer debuts.

Town and Country added Nicole Miller for Bed, Bath & Beyond last year to its roster, which already included Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley, “Designer licenses and dinnerware brands play an important role in this business,” said David Beyda, chairman.

Also playing a big part have been ties to sister category kitchen textiles, which helps explain the major role discount department stores and home textiles specialty chains played in the table linens category.

While discount department stores dominated the category last year, churning about one-third — 34 percent, or $278.8 million — of the total sales, home textiles specialty chains took one-fourth of that pie — 24 percent, or $196.8 million — by better merchandising the products, suppliers said.

“The specialty stores did a much better job for the categories (table linens and kitchen textiles),” said Carolyn Winderbaum, design director, Griffin, Ga.-based Fashion Industries.

“They not only designate separate areas and space to them, they also created swing areas in the front of their stores where they always include them, especially for seasonal,” she added.

Bryan Siegel, executive vice president and chief operating officer of New York-based Elrene Home Fashions, said the seasonal business from the specialty retailers “continued to grow at a double digit sales” pace.

Dick Gould, vice president of sales with Long Beach, Calif.-based Foreston Trends, said the specialty chains are the ones that “really cornered in on the cross-coordination” and helped drive sales.

“We're saw more and more cross-coordination, and we addressed it with more coordinating kitchen towels and placemats,” Gould said.

Distribution Channels
2004 Total: $820 million, up 1.2%

in $millions % of total 2004 sales
*Includes home improvement centers, military exchanges and gift/home accent stores.
Discount Department Stores 34% $278.8
Home textiles specialty chains 24 196.8
Mid-price chains 19 155.8
Off-price chains 7 57.4
Department stores 6 49.2
Direct-to-consumer 4 32.8
Variety/close-outers 2 16.4
Single unit specialty stores 2 16.4
Warehouse clubs 1 8.2
Other* 1 8.2


Merchandise Mix

in $millions % of total 2004 sales
Placemats 38% $311.6
Table cloths 31 254.2
Napkins 21 172.2
Runners 7 57.4
Napkin rings 3 24.6


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