P/Kaufmann to buy Clarence House

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, March 11, 2002

P/Kaufmann Inc. has agreed in principal to acquire Clarence House, a leader in the high-end decorative fabric business.

"We are still finalizing the agreement and expect to finish in 30 days to 45 days," said Ron Kaufmann, president of P/Kaufmann, one of the big three decorative fabric converters along with Richloom and Covington Inds.

Robin Roberts, founder and owner, "absolutely will stay on," Kaufmann emphasized. "He will continue to be responsible for the entire creative side of Clarence House — product development to advertising."

The P/Kaufmann involvement, Kaufmann explained, "will be to bring some financial and managerial support. We hope to greatly expand the company's potential. It's a very attractive business opportunity, and it arguably is the best brand in the business." Market estimates peg Clarence House's sales volume at more than $60 million.

Roberts, who started Clarence House in 1961, commented, "I'm just thrilled about it. We'll have the business know-how of P/Kaufmann to take us to the next level."

Included in those objectives is an expansion of the company's showrooms both here and abroad. There are 14 in the United States, including six that are company-owned, "and there are a number of areas in the United States, like Washington, DC, that need to be served."

Two years ago "we made our first foray into Europe with a showroom in London, and we see Paris as an important next step," Roberts added.

The relationship with P/Kaufmann goes back more than 20 years, "when we did two collections a year for them."

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