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Cinde W. Ingram

Brown Jordan International's new direction

Casual furniture retailers anxious about competition from manufacturer-owned stores will be relieved to hear Gene Moriarty, Brown Jordan International's new president and CEO, focuses attention now on its dealers' needs and developing its two core brands: Brown Jordan and Winston.

"They are both equally important to this industry, and both extremely important to this company," Moriarty said. "Having the right level of development strategy and value-added brand building is important to me."

Moriarty also is evaluating the Elegant Outdoors program and may be willing to add advertising support for retailers involved. He said he needs more data from BJI's two model retail stores and outlet in Houston.

"My primary focus, and why I put myself in the position of (heading) specialty retail, is to understand the needs of that business and fix the relationship and the strategy moving forward so we can truly grow," Moriarty said. "I believe our biggest opportunity is growing with our specialty retailers by listening to their needs and developing product more focused on the marketplace needs."

Moriarty found dealers' receptiveness to four core competency strategies he explained during the July premarket slightly surprising and extremely encouraging. Those relate to simplifying product lines and building the two brand names.

"We are going to focus on execution, doing what we can do extremely well and not trying to do everything," Moriarty said. "We are going to measure our performance on a continual basis against standards of excellence and we want to be the renowned manufacturer in this industry. We want to do it through our quality of product, brand building, service to our customers and our focus on product development. That's what this company is going to be challenged, and evaluated by me, to be able to achieve."

His first goal for the Pompano Beach, Fla.-based manufacturer is to develop and design at the lowest possible cost. "It means taking a hard look at the infrastructure of this company, at where we have unproductive spending and waste," Moriarty said.

Refinancing put in place at the end of April provided healthy cash flow, Moriarty said. "Our operating structure is fine; our balance sheet, as everyone knows, is going to need some work," he said.

After tightening spending, Moriarty aims to invest in design and product development for 2007. "Design is the lifeblood of this industry and it clearly should be the lifeblood of Brown Jordan," Moriarty said. "My focus is the 2007 season and tweaking the current line whenever possible to get the best results we can in 2006."

His third strategy involves maintaining high quality levels in product and customer service so dealers can feel confident product will arrive on time and be of top quality when they provide floor space.

Having too many different brands for subcategories of cast, aluminum, teak and woven furniture diluted the company's focus and message. Expect BJI's focus to narrow as it concentrates on brand building for Brown Jordan and Winston. "The more I can do to build those two names in front of consumers through our dealer base, I think the stronger this industry, our dealer base and this company will be," Moriarty said.

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