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Dec Pillow Resource Caldeira Positive on USA

The United Kingdom's leading decorative pillow manufacturer swings into the new year with a full plate — a new U.S. office, its first U.S. staff, a new factory opening in China, and participation in a primetime U.K. documentary about British entrepreneurs in China.

This week, Caldeira's agenda also includes the company's largest ever booth at Heimtextil.

"There's a lot going on in the business at the moment," said founder and managing director Tony Caldeira. "I've got my hands full right now!"

The company started in a single market stall in Liverpool, England, and grew to a business directed at selling decorative pillows (known in the U.K. as cushions) and chair pads to volume retailers. Sales revenues broke $1 million in 1998 and rose to approximately $18 million over the past two years.

Two years ago, the company formed a joint venture in Hangzhou with local entrepreneur Du Shu Qin, of which Caldeira owns 70%. The idea originally was to defend Caldeira's home market by enabling U.K. retailers to "go direct to China without physically going to China themselves," said Caldeira.

Ultimately, the factory allowed the company to begin exhibiting at Chinese trade shows and helped expand product distributions to move than 20 countries in 2005. Caldeira's $3 million factory near Liverpool expanded to 50,000 square feet in 2005, employing fabrics from Europe to create finished products for department stores and mid-market retailers.

"We have enabled retailers to achieve higher margins, better prices, and higher sales per square foot by offering superior, yet better value for the money. Hopefully, we can do the same in the United States" Caldeira said.

Next month, the company will open a 250,000-square-foot factory complex in China, to include three floors of factory space, warehousing, offices and showrooms, plus new facilities for staff. The plant, which contains production and quality systems from the U.K. operations, will open with 200 staff and can ultimately support 500 as the business grows.

Caldeira USA Inc., the company's recently established U.S. division, will target volume retailers that can buy container quantities FOB of quality-oriented dec pillows, seat cushions, throws, and ready-made curtains, according to Lindsey Foster, general manager for the United States.

"We aim to be a one-stop shop for the mid-priced volume retailer," said Foster, who has been with the U.K. operation for seven years. "We believe that Caldeira USA has some great original product to offer to the U.S. market."

In the United States, the company has leased a permanent New York showroom at 261 Fifth Avenue, and will launch new lines during the February market week.

At Heimtextil, Caldeira is exhibiting in Hall 4.0, Stand D71. The booth will be attended by staff from the United Kingdom, United States, and China offices.

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