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Owen looking to spring(s) ahead

Moving step by incremental step towards its ultimate goal of creating a home fashions powerhouse with as much as $4 billion in annual sales, Springs Industries has completed its buyout of blanket producer Charles D. Owen Mfg., the most recent in a string of acquisitions.

Charles D. Owen Mfg., with more than 700 workers at its manufacturing plant in Swannanoa, NC, generated about $101 million in sales in 2002 and is poised to climb substantially higher this year as it introduces a new blanket designed to compete with WestPoint Stevens' highly profitable Vellux flocked blanket.

For the past several years, Owen has worked closely with Springs, selling Wamsutta brand blankets under license from the major mill.

And over the years, Springs has several times tried to acquire Owen and its predecessor company, Beacon Mfg., said Charles D. Owen Jr., chairman and ceo of the company before its acquisition. Owen will remain with Springs "on an interim basis as the two organizations merge," said Springs.

His son, Charles D. Owen III, will manage the blanket business for Springs, reporting to Tom O'Connor, executive vp and head of sales of marketing for Springs.

Since going private in 2000 and taking on a new partner, Connecticut financier David Stockman, Springs has been actively scouting out new companies to buy and new businesses to enter. First Springs acquired Beaulieu Rugs, following that up with the Burlington House window and bedding business from bankrupt Burlington Industries Inc., and then Charles D. Owen.

More recently still, Springs has cut preliminary deals to acquire two other home fashions producers: rival Pillowtex Corp. with its arsenal of brands, commanding terry business and about $937 million in 2002 sales; and Oxford Bath with about $47 million in sales last year.

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