Kravet's Mulberry Purchase Drives European Sales to New Heights

September 5, 1999

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Bethpage, NY (USA) -- Kravet Fabrics Inc. has purchased the assets, business and licensing agreement to produce the fabrics and soft furnishings of Mulberry plc, the English manufacturer of luxury leather fashion accessories.

The purchase price was 1.5 million pounds," said Cary Kravet, president. "We expect to generate $20 million in sales for Mulberry in a few years."

Roger Saul and Godfrey Davis, the principals of Mulberry, decided to sell the home furnishings business to Kravet despite the fact that sales are a reported $5.5 million and the company is considered profitable. Mulberry will continue to produce its high end line of apparel accessories, according to Kravet, but the home furnishings business, including pillows and throws and a license to produce other home items under the Mulberry brand is now in the hands of Kravet.
'We didn't want to lose this business,' said Kravet, who has been the U.S. representative of Mulberrry for four years and was generating $1.5 million in business in the U.S. with the single line of Mulberry products. [In a separate transaction in June, Kravet has also purchased the assets of Charles Hammond from Timney Fowler, another upmarket wholesaler.]
"We expect to significantly increase Mulberry sales by introducing new lines of fabrics three to four times a year," said Kravet. "They did a great job with one collection a year. It's the dream of every jobber to turn sku's like Mulberry did. Now, we will focus Mulberry on the highest end of our range with an average price of $100 per yard for the fabric versus Lee Jofa which is at $70," he said.
Kravet is optimistic that the Mulberry purchase will give the company instant entree to Europe and enable it to continue to increase the higher end of its business based in the UK. To date, Kravet has a sales force of four people full time as well as agents and distributors in Europe.
With this acquisition Kravet will launch an aggressive effort into the UK and Europe under the stewardship of Peter Hill, the 62-year-old managing director of Lee Jofa International, another Kravet division. Hill joined Lee Jofa from Monkwell where he was managing director.
"We've picked up a dozen new agents with this purchase," Kravet explained. "We'll use some of them to carry the Lee Jofa line, as well as Mulberry. Now it makes sense to have a warehouse and headquarters in Bournemouth under the wings of Hill."
Bournemouth is about 1 1/2 hours west of London where Kravet now has three showrooms at Chelsea Harbor Design Centre, for Kravet, Lee Jofa and Mulberry.
Kravet is an 80 year old family fabric wholesaler with sales in excess of $150 million. Kravet purchased Lee Jofa three years ago and began to convert fabrics under the Portfolio name five years ago. F&FI


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