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Audrey Table Linens added to VKO textiles

Cecile Corral, Staff Staff -- Home Textiles Today, January 8, 2001

BROCKTON, MA -Audrey Table Linens, a privately held company, has been bought out by VKO Inc., the investment company that owns the Arley Corp. and is aggressively adding to its growing home textile business.

"When this opportunity came up to have a stronger company by combining forces, I felt the time was right," said Audrey Friedman, who owned and operated Audrey Table Linens for 27 years. VKO Inc., which also owns a large supplier of shoe components, began a new focus on home textiles in September 1997 when it acquired bedding and curtain manufacturer Arley after the latter filed for Chapter 11.

One-and-a-half years later, when American Home Ensembles was experiencing financial troubles, VKO bought the bedding manufacturer and took over its operations. Then in June 2000, Homemaker Industries, primarily a braided rug maker, became the third addition to the VKO home textiles portfolio.

"We don't make an investment in a company unless we have majority ownership," Michel Ohayon, VKO Inc. chairman, said. "When we do, we help that company sell better, faster and with high quality and fair prices."

Audrey Table Linens will be combined with the Homemaker Industries branch of the company. Friedman will remain president and designer "par excellence," Ohayon said of the table linens division, which will keep its original name.

"We plan to do crossover product for each," Ohayon said.

Arthur Millman, Homemaker Industries' ceo, said specific plans have yet to be made for crossover product. But because Audrey Table Linens has in the past created kitchen rugs, as Homemaker Industries previously has manufactured table linens collections, "it would make sense to put together a package and promote them together."

Homemaker targets mass merchants, catalogs and specialty stores; Audrey Linens, which is a longtime licensee for Lenox and Fiesta dinnerware, sells to department and specialty stores.

"We now have a variety of opportunities to increase our range and reach of customers," Millman said.

The new headquarters for Audrey Table Linens will be moved from Dallas to New York at the company's Fifth Avenue showroom.

"I have maintained a residence in New York for many years and look forward to living there full time," Friedman said. "It will be very exciting."

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