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Cecile Corral

828 broadens into broadloom

GREENVILLE, SC — After nine years of importing, 828 International Trading Co., based here, is broadening its horizons into broadloom.

828, which imports wool and synthetic machinemade, hand-knotted and most recently hand-tufted rugs from the United Kingdom, Belgium, Moldova, Turkey and India, will as of this fall add broadloom carpets to its assortments and operate it as a separate division of the company.

"Mostly, we've been debating it for some time, and a lot of our decision [to participate in the category] had to do with our vision to become a one-stop, full-service company from the flooring standpoint. Also, we'd been talking to Jim Beard, and it was quite a compliment to us that he wanted to join our team," said Ivan Phillips, executive vp. "The two pieces of the puzzle fit together and made it happen for us."

Beard was recently appointed vp, broadloom operations. He formerly worked for Radici USA as vp. Previously, he also held vp positions at Horizon and Orian Rugs. He reports directly to Phillips.

Beard and Phillips said they are still working out many details regarding the selection and breadth of the broadloom division's offerings. Meetings have been scheduled to discuss those issues this week.

So far, Beard said, the company has decided to include all imported and mostly woven wool carpets and some synthetics that are high end.

Phillips said he is talking to manufacturers in up to four overseas countries to produce the line.

Price points will range from $25 to $100 per yard at retail, depending on construction and fiber.

An initial introduction is possible at the Atlanta International Area Rug Market in Atlanta in July. "We may have a few samples there to show our customers," Beard said.

A formal introduction is scheduled for the fall, when 828 hopes to launch with three to four collections of mostly patterned designs as well as some solids, Beard added.

"We have a lot to learn, so we are going to start small," Phillips explained.

Marketing efforts are also still being structured. Phillips said a limited part of the broadloom line will be designed to coordinate with some existing 828 area rugs. But most of the broadloom division's offerings will be marketed separately of the area rug division.

"We are debating if it's a benefit to coordinate the lines," Phillips said. "But that's not our number-one strategy. It's only part of it. A lot of higher-end carpeting goes to the designer community, which is not where we are positioned with our area rug lines today."

828's area rug customers are mainly mid-tier specialty and furniture stores.

"Broadloom represents a new customer for us," Phillips said. "We will sell it to higher-end carpet and rug stores, designers and department stores."

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