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Home fashions retailer enters a new Domain

It may seem like the premise to a movie, but Domain Home Fashions' Judy George said her company's recent purchase by Aga Foodservice Group was the end result of 16 years of searching for a soul mate.

"It was love at first sight," said George, chair and ceo. "I'm thrilled. It's the most wonderful thing to happen to me personally since starting Domain 16 years ago."

Venture capitalists first invested in the concept of Domain, a 25-store chain in the Northeast that George founded in 1986, with an eye on ultimately selling the business, she said, and the search for the right buyer spanned years. "I met a lot of people along the way, but never the right one," George said.

Aga, a brand leader in the United Kingdom for consumer and commercial kitchen-related products, including its well-known Aga stove, wanted to extend its reach to the United States, and, like George, had also been searching for the right match for years. Once the two companies were introduced, it took only six weeks — and $25 million — to cement the relationship.

"Both companies are so simpatico in looks, feel, customer base," she said.

The partnership will combine Domain's European-inspired home furnishings for the bedroom, living room and dining room with Aga's brands in kitchen, tile, paint and flooring in a new store format that George will begin developing this year. George was not sure of the layout of the new format, but possibilities include an Aga store within a Domain store or side-by-side stores, though she thought the layout would be about 10,000 square feet. The average Domain store is 6,000 square feet.

The relationship's potential opportunities make George a happy woman. "Not only did I create Domain and grow it to where it is today, but now I get to create something beyond Domain," she said.

Domain will continue to expand, she added, and the name will remain the same, since it's the brand that its customers are familiar with.

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