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Amy Coe-zies up at Babies‘R’Us


Babies“R”Us has partnered with juvenile designer Amy Coe for a line of products that runs the gamut from furniture and bedding to gifts and apparel. With more than 300 pieces, the Amy Coe Collection is the largest product introduction by an exclusive designer in the history of Babies“R”Us, and marks the retailer’s focus on exclusive product offerings, which, noted Babies“R”Us president Deborah Derby, “are a key part of our strategy to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”

Coe designed a grouping of products for Target beginning in January 2003. Her contract expired in January 2008 and Babies“R”Us was quick to snap up the designer. “Our merchandising team stays at the forefront of trends and because Amy is a seasoned designer with a proven track record in the baby products industry, we were familiar with her colorful, bold designs,” said Derby. While Target was not available for comment on Coe’s partnership, Derby added that, as of press time, was selling down its remaining Amy Coe inventory of approximately eight items.

That said, Babies“R”Us’ Amy Coe Collection bowed last month at more than 230 Babies“R”Us stores, Toys“R”Us Times Square and online at . The line is also being sold at Toys“R”Us’ newest destination concept, dubbed “R” Superstores. According to Derby, these 65,000-square-foot spaces “combine full-sized Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us stores under one roof” and mark an effort by the company to return to its origin of showcasing toys and juvenile products in one location. With six superstores currently in operation, Derby added that another 19 will open by year’s end.

The broad assortment of products in the Amy Coe Collection is truly impressive, spanning everything from modern infant furniture (a new Coe category) and room decor to trendy diaper bags with easy-to-operate magnetic closures. The furniture includes cribs, dressers, changing tables and an ottoman and combination rocker/glider. Graphic artwork, colorful rugs and storage items are also available to accessorize nurseries.

The collection kicked off with layette pieces, including bodysuits, coveralls, pajamas and separates available in sizes 0 to 12 months. Stylish playwear for girls and boys aged 3 to 48 months was designed in groupings that include peace-love-baby (a recurring theme in the collection), muscle car, rock star and motorcycle club. It’s notable that all of the fabrics are washable.

According to Derby, “the collection also includes four new bedding designs: Pink Pop, Dot 2 Dot, Zoo Baby and Simply Swirl. Complementary accessories, such as frames, albums, bibs, towel and washcloth sets, burp cloths and splat mats provide fashionable accents. Novelty gift bags, cards and wrap from American Greetings were also designed by Amy Coe as part of the new collection.”

Coe, who spent the last year working on the collection, described her designs as having a modern sensibility and noted that the balance between affordable price points and superior quality is critical.

With such a large designer debut, one wonders if Toys“R”Us is taking a cue from Target, arguably one of the most successful retailers when it comes to brokering profitable design partnerships. It’s no secret that Toys“R”Us has made huge strides since Target’s former vice chairman Gerald Storch came on board in 2006 as chairman and ceo. Storch subsequently put together a veritable dream team of former Target execs including Robert Giampietro, who was named senior vp of trends and innovation in May 2007. But Derby downplayed any possible Target influence, noting that “our new leadership team comes from a variety of retail backgrounds, each of them bringing unique perspectives that are helping position the company for growth over the long-term. Part of our strategy in recent years has been creating a more compelling shopping experience for our customers through differentiated product assortment, exclusive product offerings and knowledgeable store associates.”

As for giving the designer game ago, Derby explained that, first and foremost, Babies“R”Us is “in the fashion business, and it is our mandate to be on-trend—in fact, setting trends. As a global retailer in 34 countries, our merchants are constantly on the lookout for what’s now, what’s new and what’s next. While that may involve exclusive partnerships with designers in the future, Amy Coe is currently our only designer partner.”

Babies“R”Us will support the launch of the Amy Coe Collection with a comprehensive marketing campaign inclusive of print and online promotion, in-store signage and a special Amy Coe Collection boutique in stores and online. As of press time, Coe was prominently featured on .

Looking ahead, Derby said, “we will continue to look for opportunities to innovate with new products that are trend-right and affordable for a broad customer base. We are thrilled about our partnership with Amy Coe and for the hip, trendy designs her collection will offer to our customers.”

For more on Amy Coe’s Collection, click here

To see exclusive photos of the collection, click here

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