HSN acquired catalogue and online retailer Cornerstone Brands in 2005.
This story first appeared in the August 24, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Cornerstone comprises leading home and apparel lifestyle brands, including Ballard Designs, Chasing Fireflies, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, Grandin Road, Improvements and TravelSmith. More than half of Cornerstone’s revenue comes from its eight e-commerce sites, according to the HSN Web site. Cornerstone operates seven separate e-commerce sites, distributes more than 300 million catalogues annually and has 11 retail and outlet stores. The segment had sales of $461.2 million in the first half ended June 30, a 12 percent gain from the same period a year earlier, as gross profits rose 15 percent to $190.3 million.
In April, HSN bought the Chasing Fireflies children’s clothing business. Earlier this year, it sold two companies, the window-treatment company Smith + Noble in May and The Territory Ahead clothing business in July.
Garnet Hill, a 30-year-old label, has extended into multiple categories through the years. The company started out as an importer of English flannel sheets and has developed into a multichannel marketer, offering bedding, home furnishings, sleepwear, shoes, women’s apparel and children’s clothing online and through its catalogues. Today, the company ships internationally and offers the Garnet Hill guarantee: “If an item does not completely delight you, we’ll take it back for exchange or refund. It’s that simple.”
TravelSmith is said to be another standout in the Cornerstone portfolio. It was founded in 1992 “with one compelling mission: to make travel as hassle-free and pleasurable as possible.” To that end, the mail-order and online business specializes in wrinkle-resistant fabrics, both natural and high-performance, that it claims “look great after being stuffed in a suitcase for a week or worn on the red-eye overnight. We created stylish, versatile, easy-care clothing and developed lightweight, innovative accessories that make travel more secure and comfortable. And we hired like-minded travelers with a passion for sharing their knowledge and experience.”
Another Cornerstone label, Ballard Designs, has an unlikely backstory. In 1982, Atlanta socialite Helen Ballard Weeks opened her Buckhead condo to photographers from Metropolitan Home Magazine to participate in its home-decorating contest. She won. Once the photos were published, 500 readers contacted the magazine asking where they could buy furnishings and other decor items like hers. A year later, she quit her job, sold her prize-winning home and started Ballard Designs. The first catalogue consisted of a two-page black-and-white brochure. Today, buyers travel the globe in search of inspiration to create timeless, European-inspired home furnishings for design-oriented customers.
“The Ballard Designs brand continues to grow through expanding catalogue circulation and its online presence as a trusted decorating resource,” the brand’s Web site notes.