Industry Views - July 2012

The Status Of “Quality”

Since cotton prices have dropped in the past six months, will poly/cotton blends return to all-cotton once again? What is the status of “quality” today—are consumers encouraged by the slowly recovering economy to desire better goods? Some of the suppliers participating in our Bath SMART Report (“Deciding What Matters” beginning on p. 20), share thoughts on the state of quality.

“We never went away from cotton, so the drop in price is allowing us to offer more compelling value than a year ago rather than a change in fabrication. We saw a reduction in business, in some cases, with the higher prices of a year ago, where retailers were shifting floor space and dollars to other non-cotton categories. We’re seeing the space and dollars come back to the category with the lower prices.”—Jeff Kaufman, president/coo, Avanti Linens

“Better quality goods always have captured customers who know quality. They understand the weight, the feel, the finish and will pay for it. There is a steady increase for quality goods since the economy and stock market are slowly recovering and the additional ‘income’ is there to spend and buy.”—Randy Wright, senior vice-president, Taymor Industries

­“The fact that cotton is moving downward will provide for better price/quality relationships, thus equaling value going forward into 2013. The economy should also help in 2013, assuming we continue to create jobs and business conditions improve.”—Keith Sorgeloos, president/ceo, Home Source International

“Baltic Linen has adjusted the product assortment to offer better and best qualities inclusive of selling features and attributes primarily due to the need for differentiation as well as the requests of our customers. The cotton pricing has allowed us to offer the customer a better cost, therefore keeping Baltic competitive within each opportunity. The mid-tier retailers are improving their quality offering and penetrating back into the luxury category of bath.”—Kevin Kuehl, president Home Fashions Division, Baltic Linen Company

“Our business is dictated by the retailers’ perception of [quality]. The retailers have tended to down-spec to fit to the price point and margin that they want to hit.”—Dianne Weidman, vice-president of Sales and Design, Saturday Knight Ltd.

“We believe that there is a return to better quality product. J.Queen New York has built its business on excellent quality at a fair price. We believe—and our retail results would show—that the consumer is willing to pay a little more for better quality, rather than trade down and experience disappointment later when the product reaches the home.”—Don Whittam, executive vice-president Merchandising & Operations, J. Queen New York

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