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Exec women panel tackles issues

New York — With a tribal council made up of three of the industry's most dynamic figures, the Executive Women in Home Textiles' annual breakfast explored several issues confronting the industry today.

Held at the Fashion Institute of Technology with a theme borrowed from the TV show "Survivor," WestPoint Stevens president and ceo Chip Fontenot; Croscill president David Kahn; and the gmm of Sears, Mark Grand, fielded questions from moderator Warren Shoulberg.

In addressing the impact of the recent terrorist attacks, each of the panel members re-affirmed their belief that the Home Textiles market is as an integral and important part of the industry. Grand, however, said he believes all trade shows are losing their value and that the events of last week, in particular, will be telling.

"Once we go back to business as usual, and we've survived and gotten by, then we may think of things differently," Grand said. "The whole thing is going to change."

The sensitive issue of chargebacks was also on the agenda. Grand said that since each manufacturer knows of each account's profitability, chargebacks could perhaps be built into the cost of the product. Both Kahn and Fontenot qualified their answers by saying not every retailer is abusive in the practice.

"It's like a war," Kahn said. "If anyone thinks some edict from our industry is going to work, it won't. It's up to each individual company to decide what they're willing to accept and what they're not."

Said Fontenot, "We're not going to tolerate it. That's not to say we're wrong sometimes; but lumping everything together is excessive, and we won't tolerate it happening anymore."

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