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GREENSBORO, N.C.-Building from a position of strength as a supplier of accent and bath rugs, Burlington Industries is stepping up its room-size area rug business.

Its latest effort was introduced by Burlington at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta during the International Area Rug Market. Burlington's first machine-woven offerings, the Pahlavi Collection consisting of two qualities, is the result of a partnership with Belgium-based Balta, one of Europe's leading manufacturers of woven and tufted products.

"Burlington chose Balta as a source very carefully," Paul Kershaw, vice president/business manager room-size rugs, explained. Balta has agreed to give Burlington a proprietary product for the U.S. market -- an eight-color, machine-woven product made of single heatset polypropylene.

The top of the line is Samarkand with 820,000 points per square meter, and a balanced construction which, Kershaw said, produces a product that "combines density, pile height and yarn denier for a desirable rug with a wool look."

Initially the line includes only traditional Oriental patterns, because Burlington wanted to appeal to the broadest audience, Kershaw said. There are currently seven patterns in Samarkand, each available in multiple colorways and four sizes for a total of 76 SKUs. Suggested retail is $399 for a 6-by-9.

The second quality, Kashmar, consists of six patterns in various colorways and four sizes retailing in a 6-by-9 for approximately $299. The Kashmar line has been ordered by Sears, Kershaw said, and will roll out in mid-September.

"Sears especially liked the fact that the line is labeled `Burlington' because, with the exception of Karastan, none of the existing rug lines carry a manufacturer's name that is known to consumers," Kershaw said, adding, "The Burlington name lends a certain comfort to its customers that they're buying a quality product."

By January 1999's Atlanta market, Burlington plans on having a permanent showroom at AmericasMart, where it will be showing further introductions to its room size rug line. Kershaw said the company will add transitional designs to the Pahlavi Collection and will also have a product "that will be a unique quality in woven rugs." The line will be the result of proprietary technology from Balta which will provide Burlington with a distinctive rug collection.

Burlington first began manufacturing a line of entry-level tufted rugs about three years ago. Targeted to mass-market retailers, the Value Design Collection is made up of 100-percent polypropylene rugs tufted in solid colors and in designs of up to three colors, on 8-gauge, full-repeat scroll-tufting equipment.

Burlington then developed American Lifestyle, a premium-grade tufted polypropylene product to fill a niche above the entry level but still below the five and six color woven rugs on the market. American Lifestyle, tufted of SFD4000 (super-fine denier) polypropylene, includes nine styles, mostly solids but some patterns in up to three colors, that retail in a 6-by-9 for $99 to $129.

"There is a dearth of solid-color products at that price point," Kershaw said, "and we have placed several good programs for those two qualities including programs at Sears and Coles."

At Sears, the product is called Soft Touch and is available in six solid colors and six sizes.
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Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Aug 17, 1998

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