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Gribetz tells buyers to listen

PALM BEACH, FL — Manufacturers who attended Context 2001 were hoping to hear some encouraging news from the featured speakers.

Lester Gribetz, vp, home furnishings fashion direction, Bloomingdale's, didn't disappoint.

Gribetz, who has played a major role in the retail community for more than four decades, told those assembled that his office is committed to helping Bloomingdale's home textiles buyers get more in tune with the needs of both consumers and manufacturers. The result would not only be better relations between manufacturers and Bloomingdale's but also increased sales as manufacturers would be able to better meet retailers' and consumers' needs.

It was an encouraging sign from a major retailer as manufacturers have grown increasingly disenchanted with the relative youth and inexperience of buyers.

"Many buyers do not understand the importance of the relationship between the vendor and the store," Gribetz said during Context, held here. "That's very unfortunate. Bloomingdale's supports those partnerships. American manufacturers are the ones that Bloomingdale's must nurture and re-establish a relationship with in order for both to survive and do well in an increasingly competitive environment."

Gribetz said his office helps buyers with its extensive staff dedicated solely to the home textiles industry.

Another point Gribetz made clear to manufacturers is they must realize that while price is important to consumers, often times it is not the deciding factor when they buy home textiles. All too often, Gribetz said, it was a combination of fashion, comfort and uniqueness, as well as price, which led consumers to bring a certain product home. Those four things, coupled with the atmosphere and service only a department store can provide, Gribetz said, are what will lead to the success of both manufacturer and department store.

"[Manufacturers] really have to be sensitive if they're catering to the department store channel," Gribetz said, "because uniqueness and creativity are the lifeblood of the department store. If manufacturers can provide those things, not only can they remain in business and be successful, they can assist the department store and give them a raison d'être."

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