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Hoffman enters bedding, McNeil to lead

Hoffman Mills is expanding its Chinese liaison with the launch of a bedding division.

The weaver of sheers, jacquards and dobbies is developing a new bedding fabrics division that will work with customers, primarily U.S. suppliers, on an exclusive basis.

To head this new business, the company has hired Sandy McNeil, formerly president of the fashion bedding division of Hollander. "Sandy (as yet untitled) will head up our finished product division and be a part of the senior management team," said Barbara Hoffman, vice president and creative director of the major mill.

Hoffman has been doing fabrics business in China for five years, and bedding for two years, she explained.

Unlike a number of its competitors, Hoffman will be looking to China to develop high-end pick fabrics "that we couldn't afford to produce in the United States," Hoffman noted. "We'll be doing both the high end as well as the low end. Many of our fabrics and constructions became too expensive to produce here."

"The middle price points and constructions will be done here and in Mexico," she said. "We've been doing the lower price points in fabrics in China for quite some time. What we're doing now is mixing up our look and qualities."

This new effort, Hoffman added, "will allow us to branch out and do many things we haven't before." But, she emphasized, "We absolutely will maintain our fabric division for manufacturers' exclusively."

The company also will be offering a cut and sew program, both on its own and for specific customers. "It will be primarily bedding now," Hoffman said. But the company is also are working in the furniture business on an individual basis, she added. While Hoffman will be working with specific retailers, "products for each customer will be distinct and exclusive."

The firm has a coordinated design staff both in Pennsylvania where the mill is based and in China, Hoffman related.

Lynn Ostrow, a veteran home textiles stylist, will be the bedding stylist as an independent, and will work with specific customers, Hoffman said.

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