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retail efforts, beyond the 35 stores that it now operates in the United Kingdom. “We are becoming more of a multi-channel retailer,” Fabbro notes. Part of that is due to changing technology and part due to necessity. Recent changes at the United States Postal Service have increased the cost of mailing catalogs by 20 to 40 percent. At the same time, the company’s online sales have grown steadily over the past four years to now account for over ten percent of its total sales. Because it markets mainly to a mature audience, the Web growth may not be as robust as in some other industries, but Fabbro sees room to grow. “We know 20 percent of our target audience is on the Web and we know that the younger women who are starting to reach the age where they seek out our product are more computer-friendly.” The company believes Europe may be another growth opportunity, with its UK footprint giving it experience that will translate to European Union countries. While it outsources some handling of in-bound calls seeking to be placed on the company’s mailing lists, Fabbro says the company has no plans to move its call center to an offshore location, even though such a move might offer cost savings. “We have a more mature customer base; we need people who understand and speak English very well,” he adds. “We’ve got to deliver outstanding customer service.” One thing that has surprised Fabbro since he came on board at Specialty is how loyal the company’s customer base is. While it does some limited advertising to drum up new prospects in publications such as Oprah and Martha Stewart Living, the company relies heavily on repeat customers and word of mouth. While Edgestone’s long-range plan is to fi nd an exit strategy for its investment, Fabbro says the investors have shown a great deal of patience and willingness to invest to enable the company to maximize its growth in the meantime. “They’re a private equity fi rm, so there will be an exit at some point in four or fi ve or six years. And they’re willing to invest in some initiatives that other owners wouldn’t have done.” The company is now testing direct response television ads, or DRTV, and is also willing to take a look at acquisitions if they will help the company reach its goals. “There are so many opportunities out there,” Fabbro says. “Our job is to fi nd and focus on the best of them.” January 08 67 recently investing several hundred thousand dollars to add a line of courses for behavioral health professionals. The fi rm has also overhauled its supplier base. At the time EdgeStone purchased Specialty, it had as many as eleven Asia-based vendors supplying its hair fashion business alone. “As soon as you’re spread across that many vendors, you start to question the quality you’re getting,” Fabbro says. The company went through a process of evaluating all its vendors and reducing its supplier base to three to four suppliers in each category. “We also made sure they understood what we’re trying to do in terms of bringing higher end and higher quality products back into the market.” It has also innovated with its production approaches, with its new Couture collection featuring wigs that are 100 percent hand-tied, with each wig taking as much as a day to produce. “You have to establish value for your brands,” Fabbro says. That has also taken place through a renewed focus on how brand messages are delivered through the auspices of an in-house creative department. “We spent a lot of time changing our communication to really emphasize the craftsmanship, how you make a wig, the fi bers that go into it, the product itself.” Specialty Catalog is set up for growth, having consolidated its headquarters and distribution center into a single facility in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts earlier this year. Over half of the company’s 470 employees worldwide are located at headquarters, which includes a 100-seat call center. An on-site store that had been operated as a warehouse outlet will be turned into more of a traditional retail store in 2008. Fabbro says that could become a test for possible additional SpecialtyCatalog FedEx SmartPost® offers you an effi cient, value-oriented, and timely way to ship high volumes of low-weight packages to residential customers. We pick up, sort, line haul, track and deliver your packages to the post offi ces closest to your customers. The USPS makes the fi nal delivery to the residence. As a result, you reduce transit time, minimize handling and maximize postal discounts. The sophisticated technology FedEx SmartPost employs allows us to move packages swiftly from induction through delivery to thousands of USPS facilities, including destination delivery units, sectional center facilities, and bulk mail centers. An account service representative dedicated to your account identifi es your unique service needs and helps integrate your operation with the FedEx SmartPost process. FedEx SmartPost