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Capel buys Mastercraft Imports

Capel Corp. has diversified its import portfolio through the recent acquisition of Mastercraft Imports.

The purchase, for an undisclosed price, includes Mastercraft Imports' inventory, including four English- and Belgian-made machine-produced collections.

"We get new product, new customers and [Norm Sweeters]," Jesse Capel, executive director, told HTT. "It's a big package, it's very substantial, and it all comes together."

Rug industry veteran Norm Sweeters, who most recently was president and coo of Eden, NC-based Mastercraft Imports, will join Capel Corp. as the new managing director of imports as of Nov. 17.

Sweeters brings to the 86-year-old family-owned Capel Corp. "a total package," Capel said.

Sweeters' family founded the rug company Pande Cameron of New York, and he started his career working in the warehouse at the age of 14. He formally joined the company in 1972 after graduating from the University of Connecticut.

During his 22 years with Pande, he worked as a member of the sales, marketing, product development and purchasing teams. In 1986 when Pande acquired the Fritz and LaRue Co., Sweeters led the division, importing from China, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal.

Sweeters sold his interest in both companies in 1994 and embarked on an eight-year tenure directing Mastercraft Imports, which carried predominantly high-end machine-made rugs from Belgium and England.

The four collections from Mastercraft Imports that Capel Corp. is adding to its line are: Ashton, a 100 percent wool Wilton woven in Belgium, which retails for $1,295 for a 6' x 9'; Rahmaz, another 100 percent wool Wilton woven in Belgium, which retails for $1,075 for a 6' x 9'; Satin, a 100 percent polypropylene Wilton woven in Belgium, which retails for $539 for a 6' x 9'; and Severn Manor, a 100 percent New Zealand wool Axminster made in England, which retails for $1,299 for a 6' x 9'.

Designs for these four collections are all traditional Persian reproductions, Sweeters said. Its customers comprise furniture stores and rug dealers, he added.

"These machine-made rugs fit our line very well," Capel said. "We've carried machine-made rugs before, but not at the moment and we were looking to expand and get back into them. Mastercraft Imports has done a fantastic job making these rugs with a broad size range."

Capel Corp.'s existing line includes felt, braided, woven, machine made, loop hooked, hand tufted and hand knotted rugs.

Aside from these collections, Capel Corp. is also acquiring some miscellaneous rugs, including many one-of-a-kind pieces and some discontinued styles that will be sold at Capel Corp.'s outlet stores.

Prior to its inventory sell-off to Capel Corp., Mastercraft Imports was the importing arm of the one-unit retailer Pace Stone store based in Eden, NC. It provided rugs for the store as well as other dealers nationwide.

For the upcoming Atlanta International Area Rug Market in January, Capel said his company will be presenting its new full line of machine-made offerings, comprised 60 percent of the Mastercraft Imports line and 40 percent of new Capel Corp. machine-made styles.

Sweeters' position was formerly occupied by Smith Capel, who passed away this past August during a business trip to India.

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