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Georgia Tufters buy extends Shaw's reach

With its acquisition last week of Georgia Tufters, combined with its recent strategic partnership with Trade Am, Shaw Rugs is in hot pursuit to becoming a more complete resource for home textiles in product categories beyond its core area rug program.

Jeff Meadows, vp, told HTT that Shaw Rugs will create a new Shaw home brand — "but at this point we are still working on it," he added — that will more accurately describe the company's new and expanded breadth of offerings, which now includes chenille top-of-bed goods and bath rugs by Georgia Tufters and chenille scatter rugs, throws and decorative pillows by Norcross, GA-based importers Trade Am. By this fall, Shaw will present its first fully coordinate collection of products at the New York Home Textiles Market.

The ultimate goal, Meadows said, is to continue expanding into more product categories "where we can make the biggest and the quickest impact to our customers. Our vision is to become the largest bath rug company in the United States."

Aside from instantly entering it into previously unexplored product categories, the acquisition of 65-year-old Georgia Tufters from majority owners Jeff and Fredrick Brown (grandsons of the company's founder) marks another major milestone for Shaw Rugs — an elevated stationing as one of the top 15 home textiles companies. Shaw Rugs reported $127 million in sales in 2002, setting it as the third largest rug supplier last year. Georgia Tufters placed fifth with $35 million in sales for bath rugs — the largest facet of the company's sales, which are poised to reach $50 million this year, Meadows said.

"Georgia Tufters offers tremendous quality and design, but it just didn't have the financial muscle to exploit the great things it has to offer," Meadows said. "We can make that happen. Together, we can now go into any store and offer one single presentation. We are now a single source for textiles."

Being "in close proximity to us, only 20 minutes away," Meadows said Georgia Tufters will maintain operations at its headquarters in Calhoun, GA, and its current team will remain in place, including the Brown brothers and Tommy Caldwell, who will focus on sales, marketing and product development.

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