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Valdese Readies Circa 1801, Home Fabrics

A realignment of the sales force at Circa 1801/Doblin, as well as an immediate investment in financial and material resources, are the first steps taken by Valdese Weavers since its acquisition of the assets of the Circa 1801/Doblin, Home Fabrics, and Mastercraft Contract/Guild 360 was completed on July 20.

The Circa 1801/Doblin business will be headed by John Lenox, president; Margaret Coffin, evp; and Bill Garner, vp operations.

The change in sales responsibilities results from Valdese choosing not to accept contractual agreements with several of the existing sales agents, Lenox explained. As a result, Kathy Carr Rickwood, a longtime sales agent in the northeast for various Joan Fabrics divisions — including Home Fabrics, Mastercraft, and Circa 1801/Doblin — has left the firm. No replacement has been named at this time.

In the southwest, Rodney Skinner has left the firm and will be replaced by Mickey Hankins, who adds the division's sales responsibilities to the existing Valdese sales.

Joe Brooks, who had represented the division on the West Coast, is being replaced by Barbara Willoughby, who also represents Valdese, and her partner Brek Jacobsen.

International sales for Circa 1801/Doblin will be handled by the Valdese global network, and the division will be represented at Decosit in September in Brussels.

Houssam Rayess has joined Valdese as export manager responsible for Lebanon, Spain, South America, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai. Rayess, who joins the company from Quaker Fabric, reports to Cynthia Parrish, director-international sales and marketing. He will represent all the company's division including the recent acquisitions.

Valdese, which purchased all the Circa 1801 assets including all design and manufacturing equipment, will continue to be based at its facility in Connelly Springs, N.C. It will maintain its showroom in Circa House, the landmarked building on High Street in High Point, N.C.

"It will be business as usual — with our specialty products and our regular fashion products," said Lenox. The division will reemphasize its Circa Sun outdoor fabrics collection as well as its newly introduced organic fabrics collections. "Valdese's commitment to service, quality and delivery is just what we needed," Lenox added.

Mike Shelton, president of Valdese, added, "We will support them with our vertical operations and the financial resources necessary to continue to develop fashion-forward fabrics, and deliver them with the service and quality levels our customers expect."

Discussing other aspects of the asset purchase, Shelton said that while Home Fabrics was not specifically cited in the auction documents, "Carl Marx [the firm that took over and closed down Joan Fabrics] packaged it together with Circa, and Joan had made the decision in January to consolidate Home with Circa; the transition was in progress at the time of the bankruptcy filing."

Home Fabrics now will operate as "Home Fabrics by Wesley Mancini," reflecting both the 30-year heritage that Mancini had in designing the Home Fabrics line, as well as his recent affiliation with Valdese under the Wesley Mancini by Valdese Weavers brand.

Home Fabrics will reflect Mancini's fashion and design inspiration and will be marketed by the Valdese sales and marketing staff, Shelton explained. As for the product to be carried forward, Shelton said, "The business experienced a serious decline and erosion in the market. Our plan is to analyze from an operations and product perspective what of the product line makes business sense to carry forward." This determination will be done within the next few days and customers will be notified.

As for the Mastercraft Contract/Guild acquisition, the business is now under the direction of the Valdese contract group headed by vp Blake Millinor. No manufacturing assets were purchased, but Valdese has a six-day transition period to operate at the Siler City and Eagle Mountain facilities in North Carolina to prevent disruption of service. The company plans shortly to communicate further decisions about the product that will be manufactured at the Valdese and Circa 1801 facilities.

In addition to the expanded Valdese weaving and finishing facilities, the Circa 1801 facility has capacity to absorb additional production as needed, Shelton noted. In a point of clarification, he noted, "Valdese Weavers did not purchase and therefore has no right to produce the Mastercraft brand of residential fabrics. Only contract fabrics under the Mastercraft Contract/Guild 360 brand are included in our asset purchase agreement."

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