Glenoit Comes Roaring Back

Don Hogsett, October 4, 2004

Only two years after emerging from bankruptcy, a slimmed and newly profitable company, Glenoit Universal, parent of Excell, has upped sales, doubled its product categories and lines, made its first acquisition in several years, and is planning to bulk sales more than 50 percent over the next three years.

“We are off the defensive after coming out of Chapter 11, we've moved to the offense and we've become very aggressive,” said Barry Leonard, CEO. “Our first goal was to stabilize the company, and now that we've accomplished that, we're moving into high gear.”

Driving Glenoit into a new phase of growth, Leonard outlined four strategic initiatives designed to take the company to the next level and build a platform as a global producer: “Add sales by expanding existing categories and entering new categories; Expand our international sourcing from our own facilities in China and India; Expand our range of licensed products; And continue to cut costs to make the company more competitive,” he said.

Getting off to a fast start, Leonard earlier brought in former Newmark Rug Co. co-founder Mark Shakley to put Glenoit into the solid-color bath rug business. “I think there's a real void in this business, and I think we can do $30 million to $40 million a year. The bath rug business is big,” said Shakley.

Next up is Excell's first-ever window treatment line, debuting at next week's New York Home Textiles Market. “We've been developing that for the past year,” said Leonard. “We've already started showing the line, and at market we'll have a substantial number of introductions.”

Window, Leonard emphasized, is a natural and synergistic line extension. “Once we find a fabric our customers like, we'll put it into window, into shower curtains, into kitchen. The window treatments are very similar to our shower curtain production, and that allows us to use our factory in China.”

Also moving off the drawing board and onto the showroom floor next week is a line of kitchen towel coordinates. “We'll have 20 patterns for spring and 20 for seasonal,” said Leonard.

Added Shakley, “Once again, a natural extension — we can design that business from the rugs we already produce.”

Breaking more new ground in product, Glenoit made its first small acquisition in mid-August buying the Design Network rug division of Cecil Saydah. “That added another new product range for us, welcome mats and scatter rugs,” said Leonard. “In addition, it extended our sourcing capabilities for our Glenoit Consumer Products division, and its existing rug lines.”

Jumping in, Shakley pointed out, “”We now have screen printing and heat-transfer printing capability, making it possible to do larger area and accent rugs. There's certainly more bang for the buck in larger sizes.”

With that in mind, the company will offer 30 new styles next week in 30-by-50-inch and 5-by-8-foot styles, said Shakley.

To handle the expanding rug lines, the company has added new designers, and Debbie Powell, who came on board with the Design Network acquisition, will now handle the design of all rugs, except kitchen coordinates. At the same time, three new product managers have been added.

Alluding to continued cost cutting at Glenoit, Leonard emphasized, “But we're not adding any expense. We're just redistributing our expense structure according to product category.”

With international sourcing another strategic initiative for Glenoit, said Leonard, the Design Network acquisition “allowed us to expand our office in Delhi, India. It gives us a major foothold in India for the rug business.”

And the Indian operation complements an existing manufacturing operation in China, which producers shower curtains, and now window coverings. “In addition to that, we've opened a new office in China focused on the fabric business.” said Leonard.

Additionally, the company is preparing to open another operation in China, to be called Glenoit China, dedicated to rug production. “That will be a key to tremendous growth,” said Shakley. “We'll have everything covered in the area rug business —made in the U.S.A. for just-in-time, and made in China for cost-effectiveness.”

Another key driver for growth, said Leonard, will be stepped-up product licensing. “In the spring, we added Tabletop Unlimited and Sango, and now we're working on some new ones for the new product classifications. That's something we're really focusing on.”

And, Shakley pointed out, “It's so much easier to attract licenses now that we have everything for the kitchen, everything for the bath.”

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