People to Watch in 2016:
Tony Gardner

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 10th Annual “Players,” 20 people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Player’s Credentials: Tony Gardner was appointed to the newly created position of chief commercial officer for Libbey in 2014, with the responsibility of leading the revitalization and growth of the brand and the transformation of its commercial efforts globally— including sales, marketing, innovation, pricing and communications. Gardner had served as a consultant for Libbey for the eight months prior to his current role.

What To Watch: Gardner is continuing to bring new life into the Libbey brand and the glassware category by moving from an industrial product mindset to a consumer focus. “It’s not as much about volume as it is about value. We want to get the consumer’s input first. We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of entertaining trends,” Gardner said. This includes boosting social media efforts. Libbey is embarking on its #CelebrateThis digital marketing campaign, which aims to “enhance the consumer experience in the tabletop category.”

Brand name relevance is also important, in what has largely become a private label glassware business in retail. Building a recognizable brand makes it more valuable to the end consumer and to the retailer. “We need to bring value, better product and better packaging,” Gardner said. 

At the Housewares Show, Libbey debuted two new brands as part of its “Own the Moment” company strategy: Just Indulge and Perfect Collection. The company also developed a new American-made glass formulation, ClearFire, to be utilized in a premium collection called Perfect Signature, which will debut at Bed Bath & Beyond this fall, with a broader retail rollout planned for 2016. Libbey also expanded its distribution relationship with Spiegelau, which had been in the U.S. food service channel, to include the U.S. retail market.

One of Gardner’s goals for 2016 is to continue to “build brand health in all regions,” he noted. 

Perspective: “Relevance rules,” said Gardner. “We have to be relevant for all celebrations. Every time people get together to bond, we want to be front and center.”

2016 HomeWorld Business Players (click on name for profile):