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Linen finds new homes

A neglected segment till recently, linen is finally finding its place in the home improvement market with the fast changing consumers' preferences, reports Radhika Pancholi.

business Updated: Dec 14, 2007 23:39 IST
Radhika Pancholi

As the Indian consumer graduates to better tastes of life, home linens have come to keep pace with them. Comforters have replaced 'razais' and that printed bedsheet, which was bought at a multi-purpose store, is being replaced with an embroidered bedspread replete with matching pillows and cushion covers.

The curtains too have undergone a change with tapestry prints making way for solid colours in cotton and linen that have been embellished for good measure. Standard designs are no longer in vogue. Instead it is the coordinated approach that makes the home look chic and complete.

Home linen has sure come a long way from the days of yore when everything was standardised right from the bedsheet to the doormat. "The Indian customer has become more experimental with the way he or she decorates the house and this combined with a willingness to spend more on the house, has helped in the growth of this segment," Lifestyle and Home Centre's Head of Buying, Arti Jagtiani told Hindustan Times.

Shoppers' Stop, which sells its home improvement products through its Home Stop stores, has in fact gone a step further. The retail major's CEO, Govind Shrikhande said: "Designer home linen has become the flavour of the day. And contrary to popular belief, it is doing quite well despite a high price tag. We have tied up with Esprit and their home linen is selling extremely well in spite of being priced over two-and-a-half times the price of your normal home linen."

In fact, a leading home linen brand Bombay Dyeing has tied up with a leading designer Sabyasaachi Mukherjee for exclusive home linen lines. S Kumar's too has come up with its own range of home linen under the brand name Carmichael House.

Then of course there's always Shyam Ahuja whose evergreen home linen designs have been used by many over the years.

It's not only Indian brands that have woken up to this new consumer. Luxury home linen brands such as US's Peacock Alley is being brought to India by Alok Industries, which runs a chain of home linen stores under the brand name H&A.

The company has taken the mix-n-match route by clubbing garments and home textiles segment to cater to the mid-market segment.

"We have already launched 18 stores with more in the pipeline as the demand for this segment grows," Alok Industries' executive chairman Ashok Jiwrajka said adding that keeping the customer tastes in mind the company had opted for embroidered fabrics, bed linen and terry towels to complete the home linen line.

It's not just Alok that has tapped the home linen market. Even Home Centre, which is Lifestyle's home improvement store, has been seeing a quick growth in this segment. "In terms of figures, our home linen sales have doubled almost year-to-year," says Jagtiani.

Concurring Shrikhande says: "The home linen segment is growing at about 25 per cent per year, which is higher than the growth of the apparel segment which is growing at about 20 per cent per year."

With costlier designs and coordinated interiors being the look of the day, it looks like the sun has just begun to shine on the home linen segment.