NEW YORK–Under new leadership, WestPoint Home will present itself at this week’s New York Home Fashions Market as a reenergized home textiles resource as it seeks to reverse its sales slide of recent years.
Norm Savaria, president and CEO, said he hopes to highlight WestPoint’s core competencies to the retail buyers and merchandisers who visit the showroom. “We need to show them our strengths in manufacturing, product, innovation and brands,” he said.
Underscoring this point, Taran Chernin, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, said WestPoint will spotlight “what will be most exciting” to buyers and merchandisers. “We are classification experts in sheets, towels and utility bedding,” she said. “We will also showcase our private-label capabilities, our back-to-school products, our use of technology and our focus on health in utility.”
The two executives, who spoke to HFN last week, assumed their roles in June. The three months since both executives took their posts have already seen significant changes. “We needed a strategic plan that emphasized our core competencies,” Savaria said. “We are addressing this in two ways: one, by concentrating on our fundamental strengths in manufacturing in countries that make sense; and two, by focusing on opportunities with our customer base. We feel we can be big suppliers in products to retailers where we are already big suppliers in other products—be bigger in sheets where we are already big in towels, for example.”
Chernin said WestPoint’s brands will be a major focus this week, and going forward. “We have a core commitment to the WestPoint Home brand,” she said. “Consumer studies also show that Martex, Patrician and Utica still have strong recognition. We also remain committed to Hanes and Joe Caribbean and Izod.”
Acknowledging the financial difficulties that WestPoint has endured over the past few years (once in the neighborhood of $2 billion, its sales last year were $429 million, and are off 24 percent for the first half of this year), Savaria said he is continuing the company’s efforts toward operational efficiencies. “We had a surge in sales last year, but the volatility of the past two years is still out there for us and our customers,” he said. “We’ll continue to see choppy results through spring 2012, but I believe we’ll have stability by fall of next year.”