14042 Mon, 03/17/2008 - 11:06am
CHICAGO–Boredom drove Lifetime Brands’ Glenn Simon back to the tabletop industry.
Although the former Sakura president was happy (and making money) building high-end homes in the Hamptons, Simon never stopped visiting factories in Asia and Europe, and generally checking in on a business he evidently cannot stay away from.
“I’ve been bored the last couple of years,” said Simon, who left the industry when Oneida purchased his company several years ago. “I truly miss [the tabletop business]. It’s something I’ve always loved.”
So Simon is back in the business, as president of the tabletop division at Lifetime Brands, where he succeeds Steve Lizak. And he will be back in the spotlight, and perhaps the hot seat, here at the International Home & Housewares Show this week.
Simon claims that “not so much has changed in the past few years,” and that is not meant in a complimentary way. For while the tabletop industry has most definitely changed—sales are down across the board for many companies—designs have remained stagnant, according to Simon, which is part of the bigger problem.
Simon is ambitious. He promises 150 new dinnerware designs by this fall. There are about 50 or so dinnerware introductions in all of Lifetime’s brands here in Chicago, with 25 more in the pipeline for next month’s tabletop show. Simon is confident that retailers will be able to find at least 10 new patterns they like. Even if they can only take five, “that’s OK, I’ve done my job.
“I’m going to do what I do best—design,” he said.
Simon was drawn to Lifetime Brands for two reasons: One, it is financially healthy, he said, and two, “they have so many brands to manage, it would be fun.”
The next step, he said, is to determine what each brand stands for and put the right pattern with the right brand. He is doing this with some new “behind the scenes” help. He said he is working with designers he knew from the past, though he declined to name them.
Some brands will admittedly need finessing, particularly Pfaltzgraff. That brand falls solidly into the traditional tier at Lifetime, while a brand like Farberware can be considered traditional, yet price-sensitive. And Pfaltzgraff’s direct-to-consumer business may evolve to reflect more of what’s going on in its wholesale business.
Simon’s mantra for all Lifetime’s brands is “attractive patterns at affordable prices.”