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Williams settling in at Waverly

New York — Just a month into his tenure as president, Dale Williams takes up the reins at a very busy period at Waverly Lifestyle Group.

In recent weeks, the company signed with 750-unit Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse to create an exclusive line of coordinating wallcoverings, window treatments and drapery hardware under the label Waverly Home Classics. Earlier this month, its year-old Waverly Garden program at 1,081-unit Target Stores was reset in a 120-foot run across the back wall that pulls together dining, bedding, bath and living room product.

"I was attracted to the scope of Waverly's equity with its [consumer] customers and its position as a comprehensive resource across all brand categories," Williams told HTT. "We have 200 Waverly placements in wallcovering stores that cover 2,000 or 3,000 square feet. That's just as important to me as any other channel because those stores are the decorating resource for their customers, and often Waverly is the only brand providing a full scope of merchandise in that setting."

In addition to its wide-ranging retail distribution and its exclusive retail partnerships, which include a 2-year-old Waverly Baby program at Babies "R" Us, the company maintains a robust website that draws 250,000 unique visitors each month.

Prior to serving a brief stint at Springs Industries as senior vp, global sourcing and international marketing — the post he left to join Waverly — Williams was president and ceo of HomePortfolio, an Internet site for home design products during the heyday of dot-com expansion. Prior to that he was for many years a senior executive at WestPoint Stevens as well as Pillowtex, where he was senior vp and general manager for its Ralph Lauren business.

Now that he's absorbed the playbook and settled in, Williams has a clear vision of his team's role — to serve as "the good steward" of the relationship Waverly has built with consumers.

In Williams' view, many suppliers and retailers have turned too far inward and lost much of their focus on that score.

"As an industry, people have become too focused on price points, merchandising issues, channel issues, private label issues. Those matters now dominate the conversation to such a degree that they eclipse what the consumer cares about — great color and great design," Williams said.

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