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Cinde W. Ingram

Brown Jordan completes financial restructuring

Brown Jordan International recently restructured its financial affairs and secured a $50 million cash infusion, allowing the manufacturer to avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief.

Nearly all of BJI's $105 million in debt was exchanged for cash or equity through support from key stakeholders without disruption to business operations. BJI's management team remains in place with Gene Moriarty as CEO, Vincent Tortorici as chief accounting officer and the current senior management team in each of BJI's businesses.

"We believe the restructuring will provide us greater financial flexibility that will enable us to achieve strong growth, product enhancements and continued profitability," Moriarty said.

BJI quickly invested in innovative technologies by acquiring the intellectual property assets of Sun Isle, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based designer and manufacturer of all-weather woven furniture and yarns. Under the agreement, BJI acquired Sun Isle's name plus 60 U.S. and international design patents, utility patents and pending applications as well as six trademarks. Terms were not disclosed.

"As woven outdoor and transitional furniture continues to be the fastest growing category in the marketplace, the patent-protected Sun Isle technologies will allow us to take a broader array of sophisticated products to our customers," Moriarty said.

Larry Schwartz, Sun Isle founder and CEO, will work with BJI under an exclusive relationship through at least 2012. His discussions with BJI had been underway for more than six months, but did not turn serious until BJI completed its financial restructuring, Schwartz said. Meanwhile his licensing discussions with Home Casual got snagged on international details, he said.

"BJI's diverse Asia supply chain, on-time delivery, commitment to the woven category and multi-level customer base makes BJI far superior to any other vendor to deliver the high-end Sun Isle technology to the industry," Schwartz said. "I am confident BJI will continue my vision for developing innovative woven furniture to meet the needs of the ever changing marketplace."

Chris Carmicle, president of BJI national accounts and direct imports division, said the patents and technology Sun Isle developed since 1992 will speed BJI's woven advancement. "What it ultimately will mean for Brown Jordan is an opportunity to grow our business, help protect our customers and grow their businesses for them as well," he said.

BJI will continue to support Sun Isle's current customer base and market the products to new customers through future product development. Sun Isle accounts include Brown Jordan, Agio, Home Casual and Tropitone along with retailers such as Crate & Barrel, Target, Frontgate, Costco, Lowes, Home Depot and Sam's Club.

Schwartz said he has no problems with Agio or Home Casual, but described his agreement with BJI as an economic business decision. Because his yarns look real, they often get used inside the house. "People use transitional furniture in the living room, on the porches and outside — that's a much bigger universe of customers, a bigger market and people will pay more," he said.


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