Walter E. Smithe gives royal treatment to Royal Manner
Highland House’s new collection debuts at suburban Chicago store
Gary James -- Furniture Today, September 5, 2007
The retailer, the first in the nation to introduce the collection, threw a pre-launch dinner party aboard a yacht on Lake Michigan, with Chicago’s skyline as a background. The guest of honor was Paul Burrell — former butler to England’s royal family and former personal assistant to the late Princess Diana — who teamed with Highland House to create the Royal Manner collection of English country case goods, upholstery and occasional furniture.
Over the next two days, Walter E. Smithe introduced the new line to hundreds of consumers with events at its stores in Arlington Heights, Vernon Hills and Oakbrook. At each stop, Burrell shared stories about his 21 years of working for the royals, demonstrated the proper way to serve English tea, and explained the design inspirations behind the furniture collection.
“We think this collection is going to be very well received by our customers,” said Tim Smithe,
vice president of marketing and sales for the 13-store Top 100 retailer, with locations in the Chicago suburbs and northwest Indiana. He added that Royal Manner is the chain’s first partnership with Highland House.
“This collection is unlike a lot of other licenses in that it comes right from Paul’s heart,” said Smithe. “Every piece has a reason for being and a direct connection with his extraordinary life and experiences.”
Highland House President Tom Staats said the goal was to create furniture with an elegant yet relaxed country English feeling that’s also eclectic and functional. “And we want to make it accessible to a large segment of the American public, not just those who can afford expensive reproductions.”
Royal Manner will debut at seven other retailers with in-store events featuring Burrell between now and Thanksgiving. They are Gabberts in Minneapolis; Beverly Hall in Atlanta; Lloyds of Somerville, Somerville, N.J.; Richard Lawrence Interiors in Pittsburgh; Belle Maison in Newton, Mass.; Connecticut Home Interiors in Hartford, Conn.; and Fraser’s in Montreal. Additional openings are being set up for early 2008.
“We’re delighted about the way this program has been received,” said Staats. “We’re attracting the right, better-quality stores that have a major presence in their markets. They’re responding to the creativity of the design as well as the value. This is luxury at an affordable price.”
The Royal Manner is priced between Highland House’s European Excursions program and its top-end Designer Classics line. One of the signature pieces, the Kensington metal bed with canopy, retails at about $2,000.
Smithe displays Royal Manner in 1,000-square-foot gallery settings near the front center of its stores. Highland House offers the collection in several footprints ranging from 600 to 1,200 square feet. The program also includes rugs from Kalaty Rug.
Highland House supports the 60-piece line with point-of-purchase materials, including banners, hangtags and postcards, a full-color catalog and an in-store, continuous loop DVD that tells the Royal Manner story. The company also provides a certificate of authenticity signed by Burrell with every purchase.
At the October High Point Market, Highland House will expand the collection with occasional tables in metal and wood, occasional chairs and a round dining table. At the spring market, it plans to introduce new bedroom and dining room groups as well as upholstery. Highland House shows at Market Square, space 414.