Bombay Co., Sherwin-Williams blend their home expertise

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Home decorators furnishing a bedroom or hanging accessories simply need to flip through the pages of their Bombay Co. catalog to find suggested paint colors to match the featured furnishings.

An ongoing cross-promotional effort that began last spring between Bombay Co. and Sherwin-Williams Co. has helped boost sales and increase the customer base for both the furniture and paint marketers.

"We're not spending more to get the same customers," said Cathy Pringle, Bombay's VP-marketing. Sherwin-Williams is "all strip mall or stand-alone stores; we are 94% mall-based. We do direct mail catalogs as the lion's share of ads; they do radio and TV. Lastly, we're not directly competitive but are very strongly linked."

Sherwin-Williams, with 2,300 stores nationwide, and Bombay, with 360 stores and millions of catalogs mailed annually, had been thinking about cross-promotion possibilities for some time before the paint company approached the cataloger.

"We love the paint business and love the wall covering business, but no matter how you dress a wall, a room still looks better with furniture and accessories," said Bob Wells, VP-marketing communications at Sherwin-Williams.

After Sherwin-Williams designed a custom color chip for Bombay's Mediterranean Spice collection last spring, the two companies collaborated on the fall Sacred Spaces line and will introduce new paint techniques as well as paint and wall coverings in Bombay's spring 2000 catalog.

In addition to describing paint colors within the catalog, the promotion has included inserts in both companies' credit card statements, fliers and coupons in their stores, and point-of-purchase displays.

Mr. Wells said Sherwin-Wil-liams noticed 7% boosts in sales during the two-month periods surrounding the spring and fall promotions.

While Ms. Pringle wouldn't divulge sales information, she said there's a lot of anecdotal evidence of people walking into Bombay Co. stores looking for the paint or arriving with a Bombay coupon they picked up at Sherwin-Wil-liams.

"What's fun about it is when you get that kind of crossover action you get people in stores excited," she said. "The interesting thing is it's building. The more stores get used to it, the better execution we get."

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