15608 Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:48pm
Over the past eight years, JLA Home has risen to become a supplier for a variety of home textiles by way of a unique business model.
The company sources products by linking manufacturers in China that specialize in certain aspects of textiles production with each other, and then with its customers. According to Edmund Jin, chief executive officer of JLA, this is the most efficient manufacturing model for the industry—as opposed to having one manufacturer that provides yarn spinning, dyeing and then production of a variety of items, all under one roof.
“What we do is find the best weavers, the best dyers, the best cut-and-sew operations, and glue them all together,” Jin said in an interview with HFN. “We orchestrate and control each point of the manufacturing process, including quality control, design and production from the yarn all the way to the finished product.”
This model has propelled JLA Home into a resource for a full range of finished textiles products. JLA now supplies bed ensembles, sheets, window treatments, basic bedding, blankets and floor covering. From 2000, when JLA first entered the home business, to the present, the company has occupied increasing amounts of market share in the home-textiles business and continues to expand on its product offers—and its sales.
JLA has offices in Hangzhou and Shanghai in China, and in Fremont, Calif. It also has a showroom in New York City.
The company made a splash in September, shortly after the New York Home Fashions Market, with the announcement of its license agreement with Echo Design Group for its Echo brand.
Jin refers to JLA’s model as “virtual manufacturing,” and he added that it has made JLA more efficient than its competitors. “In today’s market, we are competing on efficiency,” he said. “The world has gotten flatter thanks to the Internet, so it comes down to who can win the game at efficiency. With our model, my expenses are a fraction of what they would be if we owned one factory and did everything in that one factory.”
Scott Howard, JLA’s vice president of sales, said the JLA model has given the company an advantage on another front: innovation. “We can take an innovative concept and then find the right manufacturer who can execute it,” Howard said. “We can take it through the engineering of the product and the marketing. Eventually, we think we can leverage our strengths by building lifestyle brands for all of these products.”
One crucial element in the JLA model has been patience.
“From when we started in 2000, it took us until 2004 before we established a presence in fashion bedding with major retailers,” Jin said. Once the company achieved that foothold, it laid the foundation for adding other product categories.
“In 2005, we created our fabric division and our youth-bedding division,” Jin said. “In 2006 and 2007, we added basic bedding, rugs, furniture, freestanding window treatments and blankets.”
Andrew Schantz was brought in to become president of JLA’s basic-bedding division in July 2007.
“The JLA model is powerful when coupled with the entrepreneurial attitude from Edmund,” Schantz said. “We recognized that we could give better quality for the same price retailers were paying for others’ basic bedding, and that we could do that by spending less money. That’s a direct byproduct of Edmund’s model.”
Earlier this year, JLA bolstered its blanket division through the acquisition of International Home Fashions. The deal augmented this product line through the addition of a proprietary technology in electric blankets, called resistance-based technology.
Just before this past September market, JLA further enhanced the blanket line by gaining exclusive distribution to the patented Coral Fleece line of blankets from China-based Veken Group.
In terms of sales, while not revealing specific numbers, Jin said JLA Home at least doubled its sales in every year from 2001 to 2006. This rapid pace slowed down last year, in which the company posted a 25 percent increase, which Jin also expects for 2008. Although growth has decelerated, the company expects to double its business again over the next three years.
Shortly after September market, JLA also announced that it had unveiled a furniture division, which will offer upholstered headboards and slipcovers.
“Using our model, we can offer solutions,” Jin said. “We can be more meaningful to retailers, a different kind of one-stop shop.” — David Gill