Birkins, Kennedy Promoted at WestPoint Home

Don Hogsett, March 31, 2006

In a recent round of management changes, WestPoint Home has named Art Birkins, president of the major mill's basic bedding business, to head up a new customer service initiative to forge closer ties to retail accounts.

At the same time, Alan Kennedy, who had been vp of sales and Birkins' number-two, has been promoted to chief of the basic bedding area, which ties together the company's blanket, throw, down and pillow operations.

In his new post as chief of customer service, Birkins will be responsible for developing closer ties to retailers and improving service levels, an increasingly important agenda in an era of stepped-up global competition — and a priority of new WestPoint Home ceo Joseph Penacchio.

A veteran of a quarter-century in the home fashions business as both retailer and supplier, Birkins joined WestPoint in May 2001, heading up the basic bedding business which tied together the company's Vellux, Chatham and Liebhardt operations. Before joining WestPoint, Birkins had been vp at Waverly Home Fashions, where he oversaw sales, marketing, product development and manufacturing. Earlier, he had worked at Decorative Home Accents, Home Express and JC Penney.

Kennedy takes the reins as basic bedding chief following a strong year in the business; he had joined WestPoint when the company acquired Chatham Mfg. in 2001. A long-time veteran of the blanket business, Kennedy worked for more than two decades with Chatham, and headed up its blanket and throw business. Indeed, when the deal was being done, WestPoint made it a condition of the sale that Kennedy remain with the company as it became a part of WestPoint.

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