Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Martha Stewart Omnimedia revenues down, home also soft

Martha Stewart

Source: By HTT

NEW YORK - Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported revenues for the first quarter of $37.8 million, down 15 percent from last year's first quarter. The quarter's operating loss widened from $16.5 million last year to $19.8 million.

Luxury Bedding

Merchandising, revenues fell 13 percent to $9.4 million. MSO pegged the decline to lower sales of Martha Stewart Everyday products, noting particularly declines in home and paint product lines. The slump was partially offset by sales of Everyday garden and housewares products.

"Soft home, particularly our Five Star sheets and towels, has been soft," said Susan Lyne, president and CEO.

In May, Lyne said the company will expand the Martha Stewart Everyday product line into ready-to-assemble furniture, featuring 42 skus for the bedroom, kitchen and living room.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Judge OKs West Point Stevens auction process

West Point Stevens Update

Source: By HTT Staff

NEW YORK - WestPoint Stevens cleared a final hurdle and headed toward the finish line earlier today after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved a set of bidding procedures that will lead to the sale of the company in just nine weeks, and its exit from a protracted bankruptcy some time in August.

After almost two hours of infighting and jockeying for position between lawyers for investor Carl Icahn and a steering committee for WestPoint creditors tied to investor Wilbur Ross, Judge Robert Drain green-lighted a blueprint that will govern the auction process for the major mill.

The date for the auction remains in place for June 21, with WestPoint deciding shortly after who has won the company - Icahn, Ross or a dark horse candidate yet to emerge. Judge Drain commented during the hearing, "There is a distinct possibility that a third party might come in."

A hearing in Drain's court is set for three days later, June 24, to confirm the auction process and the winner. Weeks later, some time in August, the company is expected to emerge from Chapter 11, virtually free of debt.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Springs, Spade part ways

Retail News

Source: By HTT Staff

FORT MILL, S.C. - Springs Industries and Kate Spade have ended their licensing relationship, under which Kate Spade brand bedding and bath textiles had been produced.

The Kate Spade spring bedding collection currently out at retail marks the final collaboration between the companies. No line was shown for fall during the recent New York Home Textiles Market.

The Kate Spade Home Collection launched in 2004 in tabletop, bedding and bath.The inaugural bedding collection garnered the Elle Decor Elle Deco International Design Award.

Kate Spade plans to pursue bedding and bath in the future.

Luxury Down Bedding

Monday, April 18, 2005

WestPoint seeks auction

Westpoint Stevens Update

Source: By HTT

NEW YORK - A federal bankruptcy court judge is being asked to approve accelerated bidding and notice procedures for a sale of substantially all of WestPoint Stevens' assets in an auction that would be held June 21.

The auction would ostensibly pit Carl Icahn against a group led by Wilbur Ross, along with any other bidders WestPoint may attract in a shortened marketing effort. Ross offer most recently has been pegged at $632 million, while Icahn has stated his offer amounts to $800 million.

Judge Robert Drain signed the ex parte motion seeking the hearing last Friday. WestPoint filed it one day after a Thursday status conference that was closed to the public. WestPoint is seeking a seven-step process that would include a June 10 bidding deadline and a "purchaser selection hearing" June 22, a day after the auction. That would be followed by an amended Chapter 11 reorganization plan accounting for the sale. A final confirmation hearing would take place Aug. 17.

The process is intended to follow guidance given by the bankruptcy court about two weeks ago, when Drain denied a bid by WestPoint to name Wilbur Ross and the steering committee of first lien holders the stalking horse bidders with established breakup fees if the deal did not go through. That sale would have occurred within the context of a court-ordered section 363 sale of the company.

Instead, Drain advised the mill to attempt to complete the sale within a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization, essentially holding the auction first, then seeking confirmation of the plan by creditors. Company lawyers have stated that WestPoint had attempted at least four efforts at winning a confirmed reorganization plan but failed because of feuding creditors, notably the first tier group against Icahn, who holds first and second tier debt.

Under the current proposal, a modified Asset Purchase Agreement is being put forward by WestPoint instead of Ross. It contains no stalking horse and no breakup fees and contains the court's earlier suggestions. Instead of the stalking horse bid, the new procedures call for the "highest or best bid" to serve as the opening bid of the auction. No overbid amounts are specified.

If the process were to fail, the court could order a 363 sale and potentially have the option to "cramdown" the terms over the objections of one or more groups of creditors.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Retail index rises in March

Retail Index

Source: By HTT Staff

WASHINGTON - An early Easter last month helped the Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) rise 2.8 points from February to 58.4, its highest reading since May 2004, according to the results of the March National Retail Federation Retail Executive Opinion Survey.

Major survey indicators for March remained strong as gains in customer sales and traffic increased the Current Demand Index 2.2 points to 61.4. Retail executives also reported more pricing power in March as the Pricing Index rose 5.5 points to 45.5, the highest reading since the survey's inception in 2003.

The RSPI measures retail executives evaluations of monthly sales, customer traffic, the average transaction per customer, employment, inventories and a six-month-ahead sales outlook expectation. The RSPI is based on a scale of 0-100 with 50 equaling normal.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Textiles groups readying next wave of safeguard petitions

Import News

Source: HTT

WASHINGTON - A textiles industry coalition this morning said it will file seven petitions covering 14 categories of products they view as in need of safeguard protections from Chinese imports.

The move follows an announcement earlier in the week by the Bush Administration that it would initiate a safeguard consideration of cotton tops, cotton trousers and underwear. This morning's coalition announcement also involves apparel categories: sweaters, knit and non-knit shirts, brassieres, dressing gowns, man-made fiber trousers and synthetic filament fabric.

"This is not going to be the final set of filings that we as an industry are going to undertake," said Augie Tantillo, executive director, The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. "We are viewing this as a long-term battle. We want a comprehensive arrangement with China in terms of their textile and apparel exports to the United States. We do not believe this problem can be solved by taking an action on a couple of categories here and a couple of categories there."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Bedding Imports rising sharply

Import News

Source: HTT

WASHINGTON - Imports of bedding and towels skyrocketed in the first three months of the year, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. government.

Predictably, Chinese-made goods logged sizable gains across several categories, with imports of cotton sheets up 232 percent and terry towels up 187 percent compared to 2004's January through March volumes.

But the standout gainer was Pakistan: cotton sheets, up 1,153 percent; cotton pillowcases, up 401 percent; cotton terry towels up 119 percent; and cotton bedspreads/quilts up 39.38.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Founding duo leaving Ashford Court

Source: By HTT

RICHMOND, Va. - Neil Zuber and Amy Bell, who together helped found decorative pillow and top-of-bed supplier Ashford Court just over five years ago, this week resigned as president and executive vice president, respectively.

They are currently exploring other opportunities in the home textiles industry.

Zuber's and Bell's resignations come about 10 months after Ting Xu, the owner and president of decorative accessories importer Evergreen Enterprises Inc., based here, bought majority ownership of Ashford Court. Zuber and Bell were shareholders of the company along with Michael Day, John Yuder and Andy Yuder.