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Shaw inks Tommy Bahama rug deal

Island brand seeking other home licensees

DALTON, GA — Shaw Rugs, based here, and the upscale island lifestyle brand Tommy Bahama recently entered into a licensing agreement to create a new line of area rugs.

Shaw will domestically produce and import area rugs to coordinate with Tommy Bahama's line of furniture, made by High Point, NC-based licensee Lexington Home, which includes bedroom, dining room, home office and indoor sun porch furniture.

For the Tommy Bahama brand, entering the rug category represents the company's latest effort to gain a bigger presence in the home category. The Tommy Bahama brand, established in 1992, includes collections of upscale casual sportswear, swimwear, footwear, neckwear, hosiery, belts and bags. More recently it has started building a new home furnishings collection that so far includes furniture, and lamps by Rocky Mount, NC-based Wildwood Casual. For 2001, Tommy Bahama is looking to partner with more licensees for other home products — bedding, tabletop, home accessories, decorative pillows, throws and outdoor furniture. Next year, new home categories will include home fragrance, window treatments and upholstery, and home decorative fabrics.

"I prefer more mid-level manufacturers who are capable of creating product for multiple categories and are able to coordinate them and work to merchandise them with us," said Gail Vasquez, director of corporate licensing, Tommy Bahama "We are looking for people who can merchandise in the world of opportunity for Tommy Bahama. We feel very strongly about the home area. Our brand presents that opportunity. We want to create an environment where people feel they can escape and life becomes one long weekend. That's where home comes in."

For Shaw Rugs, the new license marks the first time in the manufacturer's eight-year history that it will begin importing area rugs. Shaw will launch its new overseas initiative importing sisal and hemp area rugs from India for the Tommy Bahama brand.

"We were just looking for the right kind of partner to get us into the importing business, as well," said Jeff Meadows, vp, Shaw Rugs. "We needed a good fit to round out the collection, and with Tommy Bahama it was a natural fit. That's why we wanted to start importing with that license as our partner."

Meadows said that he hopes to help Shaw increase its emphasis on imported product to up to 15 percent to 20 percent of its business.

Of the 17 designs being initially introduced by Shaw for the Tommy Bahama collection, most of the rugs will be made at Shaw's factories, with the bulk made of wool and nylon, "and possibly a couple made of polypropylene," Meadows said. They will also be space-dyed "to give them an older, more antique feel and look, almost like a relic," he added.

There will be six sizes of Tommy Bahama rugs available: a 2' x 3' petit; a 2' 8" x 12' runner; a 4' x 6' small; a 5' 5" x 8' medium; an 8' x 11' large; and a 10' x 13' extra-large.

Price points will range from $600 to $1,000 for medium-size rugs. The target customers are department and specialty stores.

All the designs will be provided by Tommy Bahama, some of which will feature new colorways for Shaw's palette. Tony Margolis, Tommy Bahama ceo and president, said the designs will bring together Caribbean warmth and casual elegance in sun-washed color palettes. Green palms, exotic animal prints, historical coastal Persians, British colonial and images of the West Indies are some of the looks for the initial introduction.

"We wanted an upscale brand, and Tommy Bahama has always carried a premium customer, one that we want to go after," Meadows said.

The Tommy Bahama brand is one of the four main licenses with which Shaw currently works. The others include Kathy Ireland, Nourison and Phillip Crowe, whose designs are featured in Shaw's Reflections collection.

Shaw will introduce its new Tommy Bahama rugs at the Atlanta International Area Rug Market in July.

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