A Look at Macy's Secret Weapons
Cliff Annicelli -- Gifts & Dec, October 25, 2012
NASSAU, N.Y. - Two major brands, successful for many years, just might be Macy's secret weapons in home textiles.
Not Martha or Ralph or Calvin. We're talking about two private labels: Hotel Collection and Charter Club. The brands, which could be described separately as aspirational chic and cheerful basics, respectively, warranted a special edition of HTT's Face to Face focusing exclusively on Macy's. A visit was made to the retailer's location at the Roosevelt Field Mall in Nassau County, New York. The series otherwise examines merchandise at competing retailers. Macy's executives did not respond to requests for comment.
In May, when Macy's beat Wall Street expectations, powered in large part by the home department, the Hotel and Charter Club brands were singled out as the strongest private labels in the department.
Still, one measure of Macy's merchandising effort is brand awareness. Whether by default or by design, consumers seem somewhat unaware that they're purchasing house brands when they buy Hotel Collection or Charter Club. And that's a compliment. A scan of hundreds of reviews posted online for Hotel Collection and Charter Club sheets failed to turn up any mention of the brands' provenance. But several consumers posted that they had received Hotel Collection sheets as wedding registry presents. And many consumers used the word "luxury" to describe them.
Charter Club Classic Towels come in an eye-popping range of color
The Hotel Collection
The Hotel Collection, now in bedding, bath and mattresses, makes a sophisticated impression in person.
At Macy's in Roosevelt Field, the Hotel Collection is positioned at the front of the bedding department. Sleek, modern furnishings, such a dresser and bedside table with stainless steel tabletop accessories accompany the five beds in vignettes that appear lifted from a W Hotel. Fixtures are neat and modern as well, a mix of wall shelving and freestanding units in contemporary wood and metal. Dimmer lighting heightens the chic.
Understatement is the statement here. Top of bed looks are neutrals, mostly tone on tone. Decoration is through texture and restrained embellishment. Stripes are about as showy as it gets.
The Hotel Collection goes deep in terms of its offering. Sold open stock, there is a wide range of items for the bed: comforter covers, coverlets, shams, bedskirts, and multiple coordinating decorative pillows. Items ranged in size from twin to king.
The assortment is extensive as well, with 14 top of bed looks at the story HTT visited. However, a total of 24 collections are offered online, with additional closeout collections available as well.
The majority of sheets in the Hotel Collection are sold open stock. At the high end is the 800 thread Egyptian and a queen flat or fitted sheet is $139.99. At the lower end of Hotel Collection sheets are 400 thread count MicroCotton sheet sets in solid as well as prints that feature two modern minimalist designs featuring interlocking squares or dashed lines. A queen sheet set runs $149.99.
Hotel Collection offers an array of colors in its MicroCotton towel
The Celestial Collection from Hotel Collection, with intricate embroidery and beading, is the line’s highest priced look
Federated acquired Charter Club when it bought R.H. Macy & Co. in December 1994. The brand was initially an apparel line but now extends to sportswear, intimate apparel, jewelry, accessories, bedding and bath - making it one of the broadest lines in the store.
At Roosevelt Field, Charter Club bedding has two beds set up across an aisle from Hotel Collection. While sheet offerings are more extensive, top of bed is less plentiful than Hotel Collection.
Clearly Charter Club bedding appeals to value first - sheets here are sold in sets at prices far lower than Hotel. Sheets and comforters are offered in good to premium assortments designed to step the consumer up to the best she can afford.
Another notable product is the Versatile Collection by Charter Club. These are reversible sheets so theoretically consumers can get a second look - or twice the use. The 600 thread count sheets in 100 percent cotton reverse to cotton poly blend on the other and come in six solid color combinations. $69.99 for a queen sheet set.
Charter Club's basic comforter comes in five levels of material, construction and warmth. Signs on pedestals and overhanging the two display beds explain the differences among the products, which range from level one, a full/queen 250 thread count comforter for $129.99 to level five, a 375 thread count full/queen for $279.
In bath, Hotel appeals to a consumer's sense of luxury with plush hand feels and extra large sizes, for example a MicroCotton 30"-by-56" bath towel in four colors for on sale in the store for $22.99. At the lower end is a 100% micro ringspun cotton in a whopping 27 colors online (about 16 were shown in the store). The 30"-by-54" inch is $17.99. Prices for Hotel and Charter Club bath textiles were lower in store than online.
Hotel Collectio's lower-end towel is still priced above Charter Club's high-end towels. Charter Club's Classic Towel, featuring long-staple pima cotton, which comes in an eye popping 27 colors online (about 22 colors in the store) was on sale in the store for $12.99 for a 30" by 56" bath towel.
Both collections are side by side along a back wall in the bath department, with towels stacked in shelves up to the ceiling, like a vertical rainbow. And you know what they say about rainbows - there's a pot of gold at the end.
Charter Club Damask bedding is the core offering of the collection
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