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Designer Textiles cuts its coat from a new cloth

Friday 24th January 2003

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Asking your customers what they want instead of telling them to take what you've got might not seem a revolutionary strategy.

But it has allowed Designer Textiles' share price to quadruple in two years and the newish board and management is promising more to come.

Back in 1993 when the company listed at $1.25 it was a manufacturer of furnishing textiles with little emphasis on marketing. The times were not kind and the shares slid steadily to a low of around 20c in 1998.

Its fortunes began changing in March 2001 when the Gould family of Pyne Gould Guinness fame bought a 24.7% stake. A new board under George Gould and chief executive Philip Moller cleared the decks with a restructuring that took the company to a $12 million loss that year and launched a strategy based around delivering to customers the fabrics they actually wanted to use.

Last year sales climbed 8% to $62.3 million and DTL booked a $3.3 million profit. At the annual meeting in November Mr Gould said trading for the first four months of the current year was ahead of the previous period.

DTL has expanded its Australian operation and set up shop in the UK, Europe and the US, marketing among other things merino fabrics and clothing.

Mr Moller reckons the Mollers Textiles division is about two-thirds of the way through its transformation while Designer Textiles International is about halfway there and Sydney-based Logan Textiles about a quarter.

Not too far now before founding shareholders see their investment hit its initial value.

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