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Capel brings textiles home with new Fifth Ave. showroom

Cecile Corral, Jeff Linville -- Home Textiles Today, November 5, 2001

After about 23 years away from the home textiles hub, area, accent and scatter rugs manufacturer and importer Capel, based here, has again made a home-away-from-home for itself in New York's Home Textiles building at 295 Fifth Ave.

Bud Young, vp of sales and marketing, who next year will celebrate his 20th anniversary with Capel, recalled to HTT that Capel left the 295 building when the national floor covering market moved to 919 Third Ave.

But it was a different show — and a new company business endeavor — that has brought Capel back to 295.

"We've been interested in getting more and more involved in the textile market for a number of years now, and we decided to become a part of the New York Home Textile market after many retailers asked us to have a presence in New York so they could review our entire line in a showroom as opposed to reviewing in their offices," Young explained. "We feel a lot of our product can transcend to the bed and bath, and we're building relationships with mass merchants and specialty to achieve that."

Today 15 percent of Capel's entire business is home textile-related product — accent and scatter rugs, mainly constructed of cotton chenille and produced here in Troy, NC, or imported from India. Price points average $19.99 for a 20" x 30", $49.99 for a 30" x 50" and $199 for a 5' x 8'.

Capel's first attempt to return to New York as a home textiles player came in April, with a large booth at the Home Textiles Show at the Jacob Javits Center.

"It was a great market," Young said. "We made contact there with more than a dozen of the top retailers, most of which turned into new business partnerships for Capel."

Because of that exposure and success, Capel decided to get a permanent showroom.

"One soon became available, and we jumped on it," said Young of Capel's 2,200-square-foot space in suite 808. "We signed the lease in June."

Young said that, "like any new showroom, we had more than our share of problems with repairs." Up until the Saturday during fall market crews were working on the final touches.

Regardless of repairs and slow retailer traffic due to disruptions echoing from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York , Capel went home with new programs in place.

"We were extremely pleased to have most of the East Coast retailers we had appointments with show up," he said. "Although we were sorry that our appointments with Midwest retailers were mostly cancelled, we received more than half a dozen commitments for programs for the spring."

Those programs mainly include Capel's cotton chenille rug collections of cross woven, tufted chenille and braided chenille rugs. Of these order commitments, Young said, all will be custom designed and exclusive per retailer.

Young said that more than 25 percent of Capel's volume stems from proprietary products.

"We went in to show our various constructions and qualities and colors across the board," Young said. "We want to continue to drive our business toward sourcing for retailers because of the opportunities for exclusive distribution and better profit margins."

For next market, Young said, more than half of Capel's showroom will be dedicated to proprietary opportunities.

"We'll start doing a quality story in the showroom," Young said. "We're trying to get away from the open shelf and open line approach and instead show innovative constructions in area rugs never done in the U.S. market before, and we'll focus on new ways of tufting and adding value to our product. It will be more about construction and less about color and design."

Capel sources its product from its headquarters here as well as from Dalton, GA, India, China, Belgium and Egypt.

"If you are going to be serious about working in the home textiles industry, we see no way you can achieve your mission effectively without being present at 295," Young said. "It's great to be back."

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