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Outdoor Insights - Jamie Lowsky Pride Family Brands

In this post-recession period, Casual Living asked several leading manufacturers to speak out about what strategies worked best for their companies during the tough times. The following eight executives took time to identify products that proved to be best-sellers during the 2010 season. They also explained why they expect specific new products debuting this month to rise as stars for the 2011 season. With all the recent economic uncertainties, we did not ask them to look far ahead and make predictions about the industry's future. Instead, their answers reflect the realities of today's economy and tomorrow's customers.



Jamie Lowsky Pride Family Brands • President/CEO

Q What's working now?
     Upper middle price points showed great results this year for Pride Family Brands. Additionally, the upper-end collections within our assortment continued to hold their own as evidenced by the sheer number of large custom or special orders we received.

Q What product has been your best seller? Why?
     We had two collections that came in as our top performing collections. Coco Isle, now entering its eighth season, continues to set the bar high with regard to sales. Coco Isle has been a proven winner since the collection's inception. The collection features an elegant tropical design that is perfect for the outdoor retreat environment. This collection is comprised of a wide variety of items and retails very well nationwide.

     The sales of Coco Isle were matched by our Madrid collection, which was new for the 2010 season. Madrid was introduced at the premarket in July of '09 and has taken off like a rocket! This collection hits attractive retail price points in both dining and seating offerings. We feature both traditional and crescent seating within this collection and both have performed very well. Like all of our collections, Madrid sits very well and the upscale hand finishing enhances the overall value.

Q What new product or collection do you expect to become a bestseller? Why?
     We are introducing seven new collections this year, and the premarket allowed us to get a good read on the reaction to the new introductions. We experienced a great reaction to the new collections but two stood out as being outstanding. We have entered into the production of wrought aluminum furniture and our first introduction is called Veranda. This collection features traditional seating, crescent seating, cushioned dining as well as sling dining and accessories. The collection is traditional in design, extremely comfortable and has great perceived value.

     The second introduction receiving tremendous interest is Vera Cruz. This collection is also complete in that it features crescent seating, traditional seating, cushioned dining and sling dining. The collection hits the price points that are currently hot at retail and has great comfort and value.

Q How would you describe the health of the casual industry?
     Improved! Both retailers and manufacturers who have survived the past two seasons should be positioned to grow profitably. The lessons learned from the economic downturn have made most companies lean and more nimble.
Inventory levels are down, which gives retailers the opportunity to rethink assortments and freshen up the sales floors.

Q What strategy did you use that was successful despite (or due to) the challenging economy?
     We developed an express shipment program on several of our key collections for the 2010 season. This allowed our customers to flow product in a manner that did not require a huge investment.
The program also offered our dealers the opportunity to do custom or special orders within these collections.
This program proved to be successful, and our manufacturing plant and staff did a commendable job in flowing the orders.

Q What have you learned that you wish you had known earlier?
     That the spring was going to represent a much larger than expected turnaround.

Q Where do you see opportunity for future growth?
     For Pride Family Brands, the growth will come as a result of improved placements, low inventory levels and an outstanding reaction to our new product introductions.

Q If you could send a message to retailers to help them strengthen their business, what would it be?
     Evaluate their businesses and make sure that they are meeting their true consumers' needs in every possible way. Is the right range of product being offered? Is the product merchandised in a professional, tasteful manner? Is the physical environment in line with the product presentation? Are the sales personnel professional and knowledgeable? Is the signage professional and easy to understand?

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