Fabric Chain Unifies Brand And Marketing

Fabri-Centers of America is the nation’s largest fabrics and crafts retailer, with sales approaching $1 billion from nearly 1,200 stores nationwide. Starting this week, the company gets to act accordingly, beginning its first national advertising efforts under a single name.
On Sept. 1, the Hudson, Ohio-based company changes its corporate name to Jo-Ann Stores, and the seven different fabric and craft chains it has acquired over the past several years all adopt the name of its core brand. The traditional stores will all become Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts; the dozen or so superstores it has added continue the Jo-Ann name.
The company’s first national TV spot–created by Wyse Advertising in Cleveland–will air on the HGTV cable network. Dix & Eaton in Cleveland is handling public relations. Print ads and direct mail, handled in-house, will help get the message out about the new name.
But all that heralds the beginning of greater changes as Jo-Ann comes to grips with the potential of finally speaking with a single brand voice, said Barbara Semen, its vice president of marketing. The company has traditionally spent about 2.5 percent of sales, or more than $20 million annually, on advertising and marketing. With sales likely to grow, the portion directed to media advertising will grow as well, Semen said.
“We’ve been nickel-and-diming in marketing. But I think we’re moving in a new direction, with a new way of thinking now that we’ll have a consistent identity to work with,” she said.
She estimated the company is devoting an incremental $5 million to its marketing budget in support of the September corporate and store changes. Much of that is being directed to its database of loyal customers, she said. The first goal is to reassure them that the store they may have known as House of Fabrics or Fabricland “is still their neighborhood store” under the Jo-Ann name.