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  • Cecile Corral

Stein Mart to shake up textiles

Come August, Stein Mart Inc. customers can "expect to see a very different approach to our textiles business," with an emphasis on color and fashion, said president and CEO Michael Fisher last week during the company's first quarter conference call.

It is part of a grander effort to help boost the home division, which had sales results this past quarter that Fisher described as "less robust, continuing to be negatively impacted by the elimination of coupons on regularly priced merchandise," compared to boutique and ladies' and men's sportswear and accessories, which had strong sales performances during the quarter.

When contacted directly, Stein Mart merchants declined to elaborate on details about the new home textiles initiative.

But during the call, Fisher said the home goods assortments "will evolve to include more fashion and will be more cohesive with gifts and textiles."

Already, Stein Mart's gift assortment is being updated at stores "and it will only get stronger as we go through the summer," he continued. "The season has been and will continue to be all about color, and our customers have found our offerings to be very appealing. Our merchants were on top of the best trends and, teamed with our planning partners, they were very disciplined in their purchases."

Stein Mart's television advertising campaign, which launched last year, will continue this year. But with the exception of some Father's Day ads, the campaign will be suspended until the fall.

Also being altered are the company's color inserts, which were used last year to deliver full price coupons, but will now be fewer in number yet "stronger in message and pages," Fisher said.

During last year's second quarter, Stein Mart issued five free-standing 44-page inserts with coupons. This year, it will issue three, each of which will feature a reduced page count — 36.

"These insertions are designed now to focus on the primary selling season and fashion content," he said.

Fisher said home goods will still have a significant presence in the company's free-standing inserts, but, "We will try to showcase the fashion assortment rather than the price item promotion."

In general first quarter news, the company reported the period proved to be a "very satisfying beginning of the year for us," Fisher said.

Over the year, store openings are set between nine to 11 units, including two relocations. Fall openings include a market entry into Omaha, a second store in Philadelphia and a new unit in La Quinta, Calif.

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