For Retailers Only - January 2013

Learning From The Masters
By Wanda Jankowski

Coastal looks, such as By The Sea, are the best-selling regional products for Avanti.
The Haley, Rosie and Farrah towels include three-dimensional embellishments.
Right Avanti features modern motifs, such as geometrics, in addition to more romantic floral themes.

Maintaining focus and keeping up with the times are two of the qualities that keep Avanti Linens flourishing after more than four decades

Founded in 1969, Avanti Linens has weathered many a storm, from economic recessions to literal hurricanes. As the Moonachie, NJ-headquartered company recovers from the effects of hurricane Sandy, here are insights from president/coo, Jeff Kaufman, on what makes this long-thriving supplier tick.

Q. What makes Avanti special?
“Avanti has been successful for its 43 years in business because we have consistently delivered the right product on-time within a niche business that others have tried to copy without success. We focus intensely on a fairly narrow range of product—we haven’t gotten distracted chasing ancillary businesses. We do what we do very well.”

Q. What are your bestsellers?
“On the towel side of the business, our best-selling styles are a combination of our historical best-sellers, with botanicals and paisleys being very strong, and our Romantics Collection, with attached flowers and three-dimensional designs.”

Q. Of your regional offerings, which ones have the strongest following?
“Coastal has always been the strongest regional look, although ‘regional’ is somewhat of a misnomer, since it sells all over the country. Southwest performs the best on a per-store basis when it’s bought for the right stores, although the market is limited to very specific regions.

“Lodge is also strong, with a wider base than Southwest. In some cases, preconception by buyers or stores limits the success of these regional styles and greater success would be realized by pushing out to more stores/regions.”

Q. How has your retailer base changed in the past 5 years?
“The biggest change in the past five years is the growth of the internet, both from existing brick-and-mortar customers and internet-only players. We’ve also lost a number of customers in the past five years—Linens ‘n Things, Mervyns and Fortunoff to name a few. Less retailers mean less new product tried means less successes found.”

Q. How are your consumer customers changing?
“The consumer’s ability to find what they need on-line is the biggest change. But the customer still wants great product and the right price, delivered to them in the place that they want to shop—either in-store or on-line. I don’t think that will ever change.

“We deal with a select group of on-line retailers. That business is obviously growing, as it is for everyone. Our business is much larger with brick-and-mortar retailers who have a strong on-line presence than pure-play retailers. We feel the presentation in-store supports the on-line presence and vice versa.”


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