Modern-day production of prestige carpets in the Devon town of Axminister owes a lot to a train journey conversation in the 1930s between a parson and carpet maker, Harry Dutfield. When Dutfield heard from the parson that production of the turkish-weave carpets made there since 1755 had died out, he set up a new factory. Axminster Carpets, opened in 1937, more recently won profitable contracts for recarpeting the Albert Hall and Windsor Castle after its 1992 fire. Such deals and other bespoke projects have helped drive up company profits by 46% pa from £1.4m in 1995 to £4.3m in 1998. Sales in the same period have risen by 4% pa to £32.9m. In 1994 Axminster’s 1994 acquired and restructured the loss-making Northern Irish carpet maker, Curragh Tintawn. The purchase coincided with rising competition from wooden floors and cheap carpet imports. But Axminister managed to maintain profit growth by additional sales of high margin products in the US.
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