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PET PROJECT; STYLISH DINING GOES TO THE DOGS (AND CATS) WITH NEW UPSCALE FEEDING DISHES.

Byline: Allison Zisko

NEW YORK-Pampering pets has taken on new, luxurious overtones in tabletop, where one of the growing categories of business is high-end pet bowls.

Fido and Fluffy can now take their evening meals in style, supping out of Kate Spade, Royal Crown Derby, Old Country Roses and the like. In some instances, money is evidently no object; a Royal Crown Derby bowl will fetch more than $400.

Regardless of price, however, the pet product category represents a big opportunity for tabletop manufacturers who view bowls, treat jars and other items as extensions of their giftware business.

Tienshan saw enough possibility in the category that it created a pet division seven years ago called Castlemere, accessories for your pet. Castlemere began through a partnership with Target, after a dinnerware buyer inquired into the possibility of pet products, and business "has been steadily increasing over the years," said Julie Tuozzoli, vice president.

"As pets become more important in the household, and the increase of small breeds and celebrity [interest in pets] has caused the category to grow, the need to combine function with fashion has also grown," Tuozzoli said. Castlemere forms a bridge between housewares and the pet industry, according to Tuozzoli, "so our collections are fashion-forward and home-decor-friendly."

At last month's tabletop show in New York, Castlemere offered several new styles. Three successful ones included a White Dotted Swiss collection of bowls and treat jars by designer Trish Richman; a collection by designer Anne Ormsby featuring outdoor, sporting dog breeds (an "untapped market," according to Tuozzoli); and a line of American Kennel Club products launched under a brand-new license that includes not only bowls and elevated feeding stations, but trays, posters, breed-specific mugs and even needlepoint pillows that are clearly intended for the pet owner and which fit into the lucrative giftware business.

Royal Doulton also enlarged the idea of giftware to include pet products, introducing a pet bowl in its Old Country Roses line.

"We're looking to develop a larger line of pet products and pet-themed products," said Terry Garcia, brand manager for the Royal Albert and Minton lines. "We think it's a growing opportunity. The OCR dinnerware owner is likely to have pets as well. We thought, `Why not develop products for the kitchen for the pets?'

"People are spending more money on pets. ...People are treating their pets as children."

The pet bowl, which retails for $29.99, fits in with other OCR giftware, Garcia said, and got a good response at market, drawing the attention of dinnerware and collectibles buyers.

"Right now, it's a one-opportunity item, but we hope to broaden the category," she said. "It could open new retail channels of distribution for us as well."

Tabletop pet products offer opportunities in two retail arenas -- in the more traditional channels, such as department stores, and at specialty stores.

David Lummis, a pet market analyst with Packaged Facts, a publisher of market research reports, noted a shift in the distribution of pet products. "Marketers are finding success expanding into non-traditional channels -- the Internet, gift shops with broad appeal," he said.

The gift market within the pet industry is "nebulous and broad," Lummis said, and also extremely discretionary, although pet owners are known to spend money on things like clothes and jewelry for their cats, dogs and other pets.

"A lot of our success is with dinnerware buyers who have brought it into their assortments and have had success with it," Tuozzoli said. However, she said, "The buyer needs to recognize the potential of the upscale [nature] of it and the design possibilities.

"The key to it is that you need to treat it as a real category, not just throw it on an endcap and hope it sells. People need to know you're in the business."

Caption(s): 1 Royal Crown Derby bowls, which retail for more than $400, are reserved for the poshest pets. / 2 Kate Spade's Prince Street pet bowls retail for $30. / 3 Castle-mere's new American Kennel Club collection offers something for pets and their owners. / 4 Godinger added a pet bowl to its popular porcelain and pewter line. / 5 Castlemere's pink and blue Prince and Princess bowls are the company's best sellers. / Old Country Roses finds another avenue of expansion -- pet bowls.
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Title Annotation:pet products
Comment:PET PROJECT; STYLISH DINING GOES TO THE DOGS (AND CATS) WITH NEW UPSCALE FEEDING DISHES.(pet products)
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 21, 2005
Words:711
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