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Brought to you by Home Furnishings Business

Sleep Country USA Kicks Off Year-Long Charity Drive

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 One of the Pacific Northwest's largest premium mattress retailers wants children to fall asleep without the worries of not having a pair of sneakers on their feet when they awake.

Sleep Country USA's Foster Kids launched a year-long giving initiative this week — at its retail stores in Washington and Oregon — to help provide children in foster care with everyday items some may be lacking.

The first drive will focus on collecting new footwear. The retailer is asking the public to drop off kids' shoes of all sizes at its more than 50 stores in the area.

A goal of 1,000 pairs of new shoes has been set for the first month of the campaign. The shoe drive will run until Feb. 19. Nine foster care organizations in the region will receive the donations.

Shoes are the first of several collection campaigns Sleep Country USA plans to collect. New coats, clothing, school supplies, games, sporting equipment and holiday gifts will follow throughout the year.

According to Sleep Country USA, last year's campaigns successfully procured more than 25,000 items for Pacific Northwest foster children.

For more information about Sleep Country USA or Sleep Country Foster Kids, visit www.sleepcountry.com.

Gordon To Leave Art Van

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Longtime manager Frank Gordon has resigned his position with Art Van after 20 years with the Warren, Mich.-based retailer.

Gordon, who still is working out his notice with Art Van, is currently the buyer for the retailer's clearance center, said Cathy DiSante, Art Van's director of marketing.

No information was available on Gordon's plans.

"He has a new job, but hasn't said where he's going," DiSante said.

Art Van has not named a replacement for Gordon yet, but is looking inside and outside the organization.

Williams-Sonoma to Shutter Hold Everything

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Williams-Sonoma will close its 11 Hold Everything stores by the end of the year to focus on its Pottery Barn and West Elm chains.

The retailer will record charges of up to $12 million for shutting down the storage goods chain. Pottery Barn is the company's well-known, successful bricks-and-mortar, online and catalog retailer, and West Elm is the company's more contemporary retail arm.

In addition to Pottery Barn and West Elm, the company's other retail outlets include Williams-Sonoma, Williams-Sonoma Home and Pottery Barn Kids.

Williams-Sonoma said today that it will stop marketing under the Hold Everything brand by the end of this year and will discontinue its catalog sales. Some of the storage merchandise will be sold at the company's other stores.

Total sales for Williams-Sonoma for the eight weeks that ended Dec. 25 rose 12 percent to $868.7 million. For the fourth quarter, the retailer maintained its earnings forecast for $1.07 to $1.09 per share, excluding charges from closing Hold Everything.

Fourth-quarter revenue is expected to be between $1.205 billion and $1.22 billion, narrower than its previous forecast for $1.199 billion to $1.22 billion.

IKEA Plans Southeast Distribution Center

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 IKEA is working on a new 1.7-million-square-foot distribution center in Savannah, Ga., that will allow the Swedish retailer to receive product at the historic city's port.

The company said the center will allow it to manage inventory and distribute product to stores throughout North America, but it will focus on stores in the southeastern part of the U.S. Phase one of the project will include 785,000 square feet and will be in operation by summer 2007.

IKEA plans to expand the building by 975,000 square feet after phase one is running. The center will employ about 150 people when both projects are complete.

The retailer said the center will provide inventory to IKEA stores in the Southeast and Texas, and can supply other stores across the country as needed. IKEA stores to be supported by the center are in Atlanta; Frisco, Texas; Houston, Texas; and a planned store in Round Rock, Texas.

"We are thrilled about the opportunity to locate our southeastern distribution center at the Savannah International Trade Park," said Keith Keller, IKEA North America's distribution services president. "As one of the fastest growing ports in the country, Savannah offers the long-term capacity, infrastructure and geography that we were seeking to complement our distribution presence in North America. A Savannah-based distribution center will help IKEA ensure our stores continue to offer well-designed and functional home furnishings at affordable prices."

With more than 225 stores in 33 countries, IKEA currently is expanding its presence around the world by opening new stores. In North America, IKEA is opening between three to five stores a year. In addition to the new store in Texas, the company plans to open stores in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Canton, Mich.; Draper, Utah; Dublin, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Somerville, Mass.; and West Sacramento, Calif. IKEA has six other distribution centers in North America.

In Britain, the Sweden-based retailer is opening 10 stores.

Rowe Shuffles Key Management

By Home Furnishings Business in on January 2006 Rowe Cos. has filed a plan with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that is restructuring its top management

According to the filing, Gene Morphis, chief financial officer for the company, has been terminated, and Garry Angle, vice president and treasurer, has been promoted to principal financing ad accounting officer.

Gerald Birnbach, chairman and president of the company that includes upholstery producer Rowe Furniture and retailer Storehouse, will now serve as president of Rowe Furniture, too.

Bruce Birnbach, who had been president of Rowe Furniture, has been named president of a newly created division named Rowe Sourcing that will focus on the purchasing of raw materials and imported goods.

Timothy Fortune, formerly vice president of human resources and strategy, is now senior vice president of operations for the furniture division and oversees human resources, information and technology, finance, process improvement and manufacturing.

Stefanie Lucus continues as senior vice president of Rowe Furniture overseeing marketing, sales and merchandising of the company.

Barry Birnbach continues as vice president of corporate development and will oversee customer service and sales support.

The changes follow an organizational review of the company by the Carl Marks Advisory Group that said three of its consultants would assume full-time interim responsibilities with Rowe Furniture. Rowe Cos. hired the group in November to perform financial and management consulting services.

Edward Spinelli is serving as interim vice president of manufacturing, Melvin Henson is serving as interim vice president of finance, and Tyler Montague is serving as interim process improvement manager. All report to Fortune.

The changes follow the company's announcement earlier this week that it had executed a credit agreement with GE Commercial Finance for a secured credit line up to $50 million and for a secured loan of $7 million to replace an existing credit lie with Bank of America and capital lease with SunTrust Bank.

The company must raise equity capital of $9.5 million and secure a commitment for at least $2 million in equity capital by Feb. 10, according the credit agreement. Until the equity is raised, the credit facility is limited to $45 million.

Rowe said if it doesn't raise the equity by the deadline, it will be in default of the credit agreement if the lender does not grant a waiver or amendment. It also said until it meets the equity requirement, the amount of assets required to secure the borrowings will be increased. The company has hired an investment bank to help raise capital.