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Crown Crafts Expands Infant Business

Revving up into a growth mode following a sweeping financial overhaul that wiped out most of its debt and drove its profits sharply higher, Crown Crafts Inc. is building its infant's products business buying most of the assets of Kimberly Grant, a trade-up designer of infant, toddler and juvenile products.

Under the terms of the deal, founding designer Kimberly Grant Gessford will continue to develop designs for infant bedding and framed art and accessories, and expand her designs to include bib and bath items.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the 2006 sales volume of Kimberly Grant, formerly a privately held company, was not immediately available. E. Randall Chestnut, Crown Craft ceo, said the acquisition is being made by Crown Crafts Infant Products Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Crown headed by Nanci Freeman, who joined the company when it purchased Red Calliope, an infant bedding company she founded, a move that gave Crown a major foothold in the infant and juvenile business that now makes up the lion's share of its sales.

"When we completed our refinancing in July 2006, we announced that we were ready to grow and expand our business through meaningful acquisitions," said Chestnut. "The purchase of the Kimberly Grant brand is an excellent start," he said, suggesting further acquisitions are in the works. "Acquisitions such as this will continue to be an important part of our ongoing growth strategy."

Nanci Freeman, president and ceo of Crown Crafts Infant Products, said, "Kimberly Grant is a proven success in the better bedding market, including juvenile specialty stores and specialty chains. The brand is well known to retailers and parents alike. The Kimberly Grant brand is a strong companion to our NoJo brand and an excellent fir in our overall growth strategy for the upstairs and specialty channels of distribution."

Emphasizing that Grant will remain with company, Freeman said, "She is an important part of the brand integrity and the success of these lines in the marketplace."

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