Privately-held Bissell Homecare Inc., known for the development of America's early carpet sweeper, has entered into an agreement to purchase the Woolite Rug and Upholstery business from Playtex Products. The conditional transaction, which is subject to satisfying regulatory requirements, is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2004.

"This strategic acquisition strengthens our leadership position in the carpet and upholstery cleaning category," said Jim Krzeminski, Bissell's senior vice president of product development, sales and marketing. "Adding the Woolite brand to our strong product portfolio will help broaden consumer perceptions of what Bissell stands for in the marketplace."

A 128-year-old company, Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Bissell Homecare is an international manufacturer of home cleaning products -- including sweepers, vacuums, deep-cleaning machines, and cleaning formulas sold at retail locations nationwide. The company, in its fourth generation of family leadership, is the seventh oldest privately held manufacturing company in the United States.