Springs, Owen share blanket

Brent Felgner, Don Hogsett, March 19, 2001

FORT MILL, SC -Textiles giant Springs Industries and Charles D. Owen Mfg., one of the nation's largest blanket suppliers, have joined forces to produce and market a full range of adult blankets, bedspreads and throws under the various Springs nameplates, including the widely distributed Wamsutta and Springmaid brands.

Owen, a privately held blanket company under the fifth generation of Owen family involvement, will launch the new Springs line in a dedicated space at its 261 Fifth Avenue showroom during the spring home textiles market which begins later this month in New York.

Owen, headquartered in Swannanoa, NC, will produce a full line of adult blankets in cotton and acrylic, including a top-of-the-line Egyptian cotton thermal, said Charles Owen III, president. In addition, Owen will market a range of cotton bedspreads in traditional Americana motifs as well as throws. "We're ready to roll with this-we'll show it in April, and we'll ship it in May. We're working out details like the color palette now, and all that should be finalized in a week."

The new blanket line produced by Owen will coordinate with Springs' designs and colors and complement Springs' various product offerings for the bedroom, bathroom and window.

"Springs is very excited about this exclusive agreement with Owen," said Tom O'Connor, Springs executive vp and president, marketing group. "We have great confidence in their ability to broaden our brand franchises in this important product category."

Kevin Carlisle, Springs vp, licensing, added, "We're really pleased with the proactive approach Owen is taking with the blanket program. They're gaining deeper and broader placement, and we're very, very pleased at how retailers are responding. The Egyptian cotton blanket has been particularly well received."

Blankets under the various Springs brands had earlier been manufactured and marketed by the Chatham Consumer Products division of CMI Industries, and in a mirror-image relationship Owen had been making blankets for another major mill, WestPoint Stevens. But both those deals were quickly mooted and all bets were off when WestPoint bought out Chatham earlier this year, forcing Springs and Owen to scramble to find a new partner.

In a real sense, said Owen, "the new arrangement is an extension of what we've been doing all along, since we've already had a long relationship with Springs, making Disney blankets for them. So it's a very easy, a very comfortable relationship. We've got a lot of respect for the people at Springs."

While the new Springs line at Owen will focus on woven cottons and acrylics, the company has the capability of producing non-woven printed blankets aimed at opening price points. "We can do that; it depends on the customer," said Owen.

Using the various Springs nameplates, Owen's reach cuts across all channels of distribution, from Wamsutta at department and specialty stores to the landmark Springmaid program at Wal-Mart.

"We're excited about it. It's a good opportunity for us," said Owen. "And it will be interesting to see the differences, if any, working first with WestPoint and then Springs. And it will be especially interesting when Springs goes private and starts to move full speed ahead."

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