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Avanti Linens Makes Russian Connection

Towel Manufacturer Looking to Bolster Overseas Business

Embellished towel manufacturer Avanti Linens is on its way to meeting a recently established exporting goal, having forged a partnership with a Russian distributor to retail its wares overseas in countries experiencing healthy economic growth.

Jeffrey Kaufman, president and coo, explained to HTT that Avanti is looking to build its business not only in Russia, "where there is a large demographic with a tremendous amount of disposable income," but other countries, namely India and China, that are also currently experiencing healthy economic growth.

"With the dollar weak, they can import [American] products at the right price," he continued. "It's true, the weak dollar hurts on some fronts, but it has helped us in other ways, like the exporting front."

Two years ago, Avanti participated in the U.S. Department of Commerce pavilion at the Index Dubai 2006 trade show. It was via that effort that the company connected with a major Russian manufacturer and exporter of bedding supplies that was looking to expand its assortment with branded home textiles bedding, bath products and table linens from the United States.

That distributor came to Avanti's headquarters here early last year and ordered designs "from almost our whole current line," Kaufman said. "They wanted a significant portion of our existing line." Avanti's embellished towel offerings span more than 100 styles and 250-plus color combinations.

The first shipment went out in late spring 2007, and the product has been on store shelves of retailers in the Vladivostok and Primorsky region for the past three months or so. Retailers in the Moscow and St. Petersburg regions are also expected to include Avanti wares in the near future.

While it is still too early to tell, Kaufman said initial customer reaction to Avanti's towels has been "good."

He continued, "It's going to take time to build this business, but right now they are accepting our designs and working well with us. [Compared to the U.S.], there is no real difference. Russia represents a big opportunity, and down the road we think India and China do, too," Kaufman said.

Avanti's business in Russia is not its first overseas exporting venture. Avanti has long worked with distributors and retailers globally in Central and South America, Canada, parts of Asia and the Middle East.

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