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Johnson Publishing Heads Home
Ebony and Jet Founder to Launch Bed and Bath Line

Source: Black Enterprise

June 17, 2006 -- When people think of Johnson Publishing Co., Ebony and Jet magazines, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, or the company’s traveling Ebony Fashion Fair fashion show, typically come to mind.

Now, the Chicago-based company [No. 8 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100 list with 495.7 million in sales] is adding home fashions to its product mix by introducing a luxury line of bed and bath products called Ebony Home.

The line is Johnson Publishing’s first foray into the lucrative $108 billion licensing industry. The company’s President and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice, says she hopes the strategy will help to improve the company’s outlook while bringing the company into a new marketplace. Rice announced her intentions to license products last year. (See related story). 

The line should hit stores in 2007 and the company is looking to partner with retailers such as Target Corp., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and JCPenney Co.

“What I wanted to do was dig down deep and brand the name Ebony outside the magazine arena,” says Rice. “The name is so well-associated; I thought we could do some extending of that brand particularly in the home area.”

Ebony Home’s target demographic will be 21 to 45 year-olds who have fashionable tastes and are interested in purchasing luxury home products, Johnson Rice says. The deal, brokered by TurnerPatterson, a Santa Monica, California-based company that creates licensing strategies for consumer and entertainment products, teams Johnson Publishing with Danville, Virginia-based Dan River Inc., a manufacturer of textile products for the home fashions market. Dan River has entered into agreements with companies such as Phat Farm, Lilly Pulitzer, and Caribbean Joe. A Johnson Publishing spokeswoman says that at this time the company does not yet have revenue projections for the brand.
 
“It’s a boost for us because people identify with the brand and they have an affinity for the brand,” says Susan Meek, corporate vice president of licensing and marketing for Dan River. “Ebony is a very sophisticated quality name and the line we wanted to put out, we wanted to be fashionable, but not trendy.”

The alliance comes at a time when advertising revenues for Ebony magazine are showing gains. According to the Magazine Publishers of America’s Publishers Information Bureau, advertising revenue was up to $76.1 million in 2005, rising 13.3% from $67.2 million the previous year. Advertising sales for Jet magazine rose 7.1% to $33.1 million in 2005, up from $30.9 million in 2004.

The company is also considering licensing a line of girls’ cosmetics and other teen products and possibly even credit cards.

“I think we have a unique situation because we have the unique brand of Ebony,” says Johnson Rice. “It has such a loyal and strong following, so I think it’s a tremendous growth opportunity for the company.”

 

 

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