By David Gill
A larger assortment in housewares and tabletop is in the offing for Anna’s Linens.
According to Carie Doll, the home chain’s executive vice president and chief merchandising officer, Anna’s will grow its current offerings in cookware, dinnerware, gadgets, storage, outdoor dinnerware, cutlery and glassware. It will also add small electrics, a category it tried two years ago, and put more weight behind marketing and merchandising the category. All of this will take place over the next 18 months, Doll said, by which time Anna’s should have doubled the volume in its hard-home business.
The retailer made a key move in this effort in its recent hiring of Jeanie Wolf in the newly created position of senior buyer for tabletop and housewares. Wolf, who came to her new role after spending 22 years as a buyer with Macy’s, is responsible for both categories and reports directly to Doll.
Anna’s first move toward enlarging its housewares/tabletop assortment will be to expand in cookware. “It’s an area where we want to be seen as value provider, with the right intersection of quality and price,” Doll said.
Growing in dinnerware will be a top priority as well. “We have such great fashion in bed, bath and window, and we want to bring this fashion sense to the top of the table,” Doll said. “We see a lot of opportunity in cross-merchandising hard table and soft table, and Jeanie will be buying both categories.”
The small-electrics expansion will have more behind it than Anna’s previous attempt at it. “We didn’t allocate enough square footage to it in the stores,” Doll said, “and we didn’t support it in advertising. We’ll put more behind it this time.”
Still another goal in Anna’s housewares/tabletop expansion is to bring more to what Doll termed the retailer’s fairly modest gadget assortment. “We want to do the same in beverageware,” she said. “We are just starting to introduce Libbey as our vendor-partner in beverageware.”
Doll said Anna’s will begin offering these added assortments in the stores in late spring 2013. She added that shoppers will see “a robust set” of this merchandise, especially in its larger-format stores, in early fall. By mid-fall, the entire chain will be outfitted with the expanded merchandise.
While the hard part of the home assortment will grow, Anna’s will retain its textiles offerings as the core of its overall assortment, Doll said. “Linens will remain the primary part of our business,” she said. “However, we have a variable footprint of from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet in our formats, which gives us the flexibility to expand more and provides a fertile testing ground.”