American Leather acquires John Charles upholstery

Joan Gunin, October 20, 2008

Custom upholstery specialist American Leather is expanding its presence in fabric upholstery by acquiring the assets of California-based manufacturer John Charles Designs.

American Leather said it purchased the rights to John Charles' home furnishing designs, textile collection and marketing materials for an undisclosed sum.

John Charles Designs, a 31-year-old company known for its clean, contemporary designs and sumptuous fabric selection, was owned by the Genova family. Principals John Genova Sr., co-owner and founder, and Nancy Genova, co-owner and lead designer, and Vice President John Genova Jr. will be consultants to American Leather through 2009 to ensure a smooth transition.

John Charles Designs for American Leather will introduce 29 collections at this week's High Point Market in the American Leather showroom at Showplace, fifth floor.

Production of the John Charles line will shift to American Leather's 250,000-square-foot facility here, with shipments to begin in February.

American Leather CEO Bob Duncan said the acquisition will help the company “become an immediately recognizable player in fabric upholstery.”

The new collection will include John Charles' bestselling designs offered in hundreds of fabric options, leather, Ultrasuede or COM. The collection will continue to expand into 2009.

“This represents the next step of our long-term strategy to expand into the fabric upholstery segment,” Duncan said. “Between our hospitality division, and our residential and private-label programs, fabric upholstery already represents approximately 30% of our volume.”

American Leather's modern fabric-cutting system will allow it to handle matching and other techniques associated with fabric upholstery production, he said.

Like American Leather's other products, the new fabric upholstery will ship in three weeks or less.

American Leather had started a fabric division called American Upholstery or AU in April 2004, but was phasing out that line before it acquired John Charles.


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