FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2004

Ellen Qualls
www.governor.virginia.gov
(804) 786-2211, x2379


Bill Aboud
Ashford Court, LLC
(804) 337-5500
Jill Vaughan
VEDP
(804) 371-0049
CHINESE FIRM CREATES, SAVES JOBS IN RICHMOND
-Governor Warner announces corporate acquisition, job growth for Ashford Court during China mission-


NINGBO, CHINA - Governor Mark R. Warner announced today that Ting Xu, Frank Qiu and James Xu, owners of Evergreen Enterprises based in Beilun, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, will acquire the assets of New Jersey-based Ashford Court, a division of Baron Industries, which operates a manufacturing facility on Commerce Road in the City of Richmond.

As a result of the acquisition, Ashford Court will create 25 new jobs and retain 80 jobs in Richmond. Evergreen Enterprises already has significant operations in south Richmond. Governor Warner visited with the principals today in Ningbo as part of his nine-day trade mission to China.

“Americans have been impressed with the quality and price of Evergreen’s products for many years,” said Governor Warner. “This strategic acquisition will allow the firm’s principals to diversify their product lines while creating new job opportunities in central Virginia.”

The new owners of Ashford Court are principals in Evergreen Enterprises, a leading home décor and garden accessory company, specializing in the import of Chinese and other products for sale into the U.S. market. Evergreen’s products are sold all over the country, from Frank’s Nursery, to Bed Bath and Beyond, to Kmart to Neiman Marcus. The company operates a 250,000-square foot warehouse and distribution center in south Richmond.

The acquisition of Ashford Court from Baron Industries will provide synergy for Evergreens’ current product line, by adding a textile –based line to the home furnishings the company currently produces and distributes. While the new owners initially will hold employment stable, they expect growth over the next two years.

The City of Richmond Department of Economic Development Office works closely with Evergreen Enterprises and has worked in the past with Ashford Court, which manufactures decorative pillows, bedding, table runners, chair pads, placemats and other home textiles products. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Greater Richmond Partnership also assisted with the decision. The Port of Virginia will continue to be a significant portal for both companies.

Frank Qiu of Evergreen Enterprises commented, “We believe that international trade improves people’s lives on both sides of the equation. Acquiring Ashford Court opens even more opportunities for everyone. It was attractive to us on a number of levels, not the least was the very favorable Central Virginia location in Richmond. We are grateful to the City and the State for their help and support, and we are pleased we will be able to contribute to the local community by maintaining and growing Ashford Court in Richmond.”

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