NEWPORT BEACH, CA— Just as urban areas across the country are undergoing a renewal to meet growing demand, housewares company Urban Trend is undertaking a brand renewal of its own.
Now called UT Brands, the company formerly known as Urban Trend has restructured to better serve its growing number of retail partners, and is relocating its headquarters to a larger office and showroom facility, Michael Stoll, UT Brands president, told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®.
The restructuring will simultaneously aid in supporting the company’s retail customers while strengthening the company’s four individual brands that include its namesake Urban Trend, Barbuzzo, Kids Funwares and Bartini, which now all fall under the new UT Brands umbrella.
Stoll noted that UT Brands will accomplish its new brand differentiation and retail support goals by creating divisions for each brand that have specialized, internally controlled processes for all steps of the manufacturing and selling process, from product design to marketing.
“All of our brands play a specific role to our business and offer innovative and solution-based value for their customers,” he said. “The restructuring allows us to separate design, production and sales for each brand, and to optimize the overall efficiency of our entire operation.”
The need to restructure was prompted by market trends and growth in new retail channels, Stoll noted. Over the past few years, Stoll said that the company has seen growth in all retail channels. A majority of the volume growth has been in larger, big box retailers, while the company’s customer base continues to expand within specialty and gift shops. Much of the restructuring is strategically designed to support the multi-channel growth, Stoll said.
Urban Trend, the company’s first brand and the root behind “UT” Brands, is where Stoll said the most resources would be reinvested. The brand is geared towards specialty gourmet and larger national retailers, and specializes in creating kitchen gadgets, such as peelers and ice cream scoops, that have specific solutions at competitive retail prices.
For example, the Urban Trend Orbit herb chopper can be palm-held for single-handed cutting or leveraged-held two-handed for cutting through thicker herbs or larger bunches. The herb chopper features a patented safety ring that serves as both a leveraged cutting handle and for fold-flat storage.
“We’re bringing a bunch of new items to market under Urban Trend for 2016, and they’ll be just as innovative as everything we’ve come out with in the past,” Stoll said. “We’re working to maintain the integrity of the brand by making sure all of the items meet our rigorous qualifications and innovation philosophy.”
Highlighting the company’s strict quality control regarding product development, Stoll estimated that out of every dozen kitchen tools the company develops for Urban Trend, only four or so meet the brand’s standards and make it to store shelves.
UT Brands also markets the Kids Funwares brand that is said to provide fun yet functional tableware, kitchen and mealtime products that encourage young children to eat healthy and portion-controlled meals. The Build-A-Meal Tiger Plate, for example, features removable plate sections that easily snap together to encourage creativity as well as portion control. The line transcends across all retail channels and Stoll estimated that the company will be adding roughly 20 new items to this brand’s menu in 2016.
The Barbuzzo brand is designed for the gift channel and Stoll noted it would be releasing roughly 50 new items in 2016. The brand’s slogan is “Life’s Too Short To Be Serious” and includes barware tools like the Ratchet Gadget, which combines a screw top and flip top bottle opener, and corkscrew, in one. The product mix consists of barware and cheerful novelty items for the home, such as the Ah Choo nose-shaped pepper grinder, CanTeen pint mug, barbecue branding iron and a banana shaped hip flask.
The fourth and newest brand under the UT Brands umbrella is the Bartini, a line catered towards larger big box retailers. The Bartini line offers barware and other products similar in nature to Barbuzzo, but features different materials, packaging, and functionality in many cases to hit lower pricepoints and higher volume.
“It became clear that the core kitchen gadget business is different than the gift business with respect to design, development, production and sales. The restructuring allows us to separate our brands in that respect and to specialize our efforts,” Stoll said.
Currently located in Newport Beach, CA, UT Brands will be relocating to a new larger office and showroom facility in Costa Mesa, CA. Expected to open on October 30, the new location will include a high-end, contemporary kitchen and will be better organized to support the individual brands.
The company will continue to ship out of its Rancho Cucamonga facility, but may look to open an additional distribution center in the Midwest or East Coast to expand its fulfillment capacity, Stoll noted.
In terms of marketing and social media, UT Brands will also launch individual websites for each of its four brands to speak to each targeted brand audience more effectively. New housewares will be introduced under each brand at the upcoming International Home + Housewares Show in March 2016.
“UT Brands is all about fresh new products. As we grow, we want to grow with that philosophy in mind,” Stoll said.