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Johnson Publishing to offer Ebony-branded home goods

Source: Chicago Business
By Lorene Yue

Firm to leverage brand of flagship magazine for bedding, bath products

(Crain’s) — Johnson Publishing Co. is launching a line of Ebony-branded products in an effort to give its readers a chance to emulate the lifestyle portrayed in its flagship magazine.

The Chicago-based company said Thursday it had landed its first licensing deal to put Ebony Home bedding and bath products on store shelves by spring. While the publisher of Ebony and Jet already owns the Fashion Fair cosmetic line, this will be the company’s first branded deal.

“As a quality brand, our goal is to develop alliances with leading companies to bring high-quality merchandise to the marketplace,” Linda Johnson Rice, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Ebony Home will be a two-tier brand with Ebony Classics sold at department and higher–end stores and Ebony@Home to be carried at mass merchandisers. The home textile line will be developed, produced and distributed by Dan River Inc. of North Carolina, which produces bedding under the Lilly Pulitzer and Alexander Julian nameplates.

Magazines, particularly in the lifestyle arena, have been looking to licensing deals as a means of capitalizing on their brand name. Martha Stewart has successfully launched numerous product lines carried at Kmart stores while Better Homes & Gardens has products at Wal-Marts.

“It’s a smart move for Johnson Publishing,” said Neil Stern, a retail consultant with McMillan/Doolittle in Chicago. “The real question is can it be sold and will it be a good move for the retailer that picks up the line.”

Johnson Publishing Co. partnered with TurnerPatterson last year in an effort to explore ways to extend the Ebony brand beyond its glossy pages.

TurnerPatterson, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based licensing and marketing company for cultural companies, plans to forge deals with a number of consumer product and service companies.

“We’re moving into home, financial services and entertainment, including mobile entertainment,” said Debra Turner, chief executive officer of TurnerPatterson. “We are in talks with companies now for an Ebony line of apparel.”



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