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Imports, exports continue to improve

The pace of importing and exporting goods to the United States continued to accelerate during 2003, in some cases explosively.

Home Textiles Today's annual report of the top U.S. importers and top exporters to the United States found the greatest shift in players since last year took place in the towel ranking. As capacity tightened across the year in the absence of Pillowtex, 1888 Mills and Revere Mills jumped into the Top 5 group.

Also a newcomer among the leading top towel importers this year is WestPoint Stevens. Considering WestPoint owns the greatest amount of domestic towel-making capacity available, the fact that it also imported $48 million in the category speaks volumes about the demand this year.

Other notable newcomers to the Top 5 rankings this year included Revman in sheets, Franco Mfg. in comforter shells and WestPoint Stevens in bed-in-a-bag programs.

On the importer side, there were four instances where suppliers stepped up imports at a triple-digit rate:

— Towel imports by WestPoint Stevens, up 220 percent.

— Greige goods imports by WestPoint Stevens, up 125.3 percent.

— Window treatment imports by Croscill, up 125 percent.

— Bed-in-a-bag imports by CHF Industries, up 100 percent.

Among overseas suppliers, there were no such astronomical increases in U.S.-directed business. But in 29 out of 33 instances in the study, off-shore manufacturers increased their business with the United States by double-digit percentages.

Making the strongest showing among the top 5 overseas manufacturers exporting home textiles to the United States were:

— Nishat Mills of Pakistan: No. 2 in sheets and table linens, and No. 3 in bed-in-a-bag, comforter shells and greige goods.

— Bombay Dyeing of India: No. 1 in sheets, No. 2 in comforter shells, No. 3 in bath towels and No. 5 in table linens.

— Kucukcalik of Turkey: No. 3 in window treatments, No. 4 in bed-in-bag and table linens, and No. 5 in sheets.

Also worth noting was Coteminas' growth through its partnership with Springs Industries. Under the agreement, Springs is the exclusive conduit of Coteminas bedding and bath products sold in the United States. Its sheet exports booked to the U.S. market this year jumped 24 percent, with bath towel business up 22 percent and bed-in-a-bag up 19 percent.

Another top ranker in the towel category is worth watching: Sunvim Hometextiles. One of the largest towel manufacturers in China, Sunvim has only just begun to turn its attention to building business in the United States. It is expected to pour on the effort after quotas drop in January.

Research for this report was compiled by the HTT staff and contributing editor Brent Felgner. In cases where companies did not provide firm numbers, estimates were used.

Sheets
U.S.-based importers
$millions

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. Springs, Fort Mill, S.C. $124 $110 12.7%
Springs continues to dominate the shelves of the two big boxes, the fastest growing channel of retail distribution.
2. Divatex, New York $95 $75 26.6%
The company opened an office in Shanghai at the start of 2004 and added 12 employees to its Bombay office. Divatex attributes growth to many new products and constructions.
2. Franco Manufacturing Co., Metuchen, N.J. $95 $90 5.5%
Franco continued to expand and refine its overseas infrastructure to improve its ability to service the needs of U.S.-based retailers.
3. WestPoint Stevens, West Point, Ga. $65 $51 27.4%
WestPoint began seriously stepping up its sourcing operations by opening its first office in Shanghai in the spring of 2004.
4. Revman International, New York $41.1 NA NA
Revman launched Laura Ashley Lifestyles at Kohl's, saw strong sales of its Tommy Hilfiger coordinated sheet set program, and had two brands (Nicole Miller and Dean Miller) that expanded into the sheeting arena.
5. American Pacific, So. San Francisco, Calif. $27 $28.2 (4.2)%
American Pacific will be accelerating investments in supply chain management, brand building and product extensions thanks to a financial infusion it got from private equity firm Genstar Capital, which acquired a controlling interest in the company back in May.
Source: HTT Research


Sheets
exporters to U.S.
$millions

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Bombay Dyeing, Mumbai, India $44 $39.9 10%
Like other India companies of its size and diversity, Bombay Dyeing has been searching for new growth venues for its key home textiles categories, such as sheets, in a challenging economic and competitive environment.
2. Nishat Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $39.2 $34.7 13%
Nishat Mills remains one of Pakistan's largest enterprises and leading exporters.
3. Coteminas, Sao Paulo, Brazil $37 $30 24%
Brazilian manufacturer Coteminas has been busy broadening its U.S. presence with Springs Industries.
4. Pac-Fung, Hong Kong $19 $17 12%
Pac-Fung, ahead of much of the pack in China, is busy broadening and repositioning to grow and defend its place.
5. Kucukcalik, Istanbul, Turkey $17 $13.1 29.7%
Kucukcalik continues to work its export business in home textiles.
Source: HTT Research


Bath towels
U.S.-based importers
(does not include kitchen towels, dish cloths, or beach) $millions

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. Springs Ind., Fort Mill, S.C. $170 $125 36%
Picked up business after the demise of Pillowtex and, like others, continued to struggle to keep up with demand.
2. 1888 Mills, Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. $75 NA NA
Through merger three years ago with ESN, a Chicago-based company involved in global manufacturing, the company has expanded overseas sourcing initiatives and established placement with major discount retailers.
3. J.R. United, Miami $69.6 $58 20%
Expanded new basic color replenishment programs, gained placements for Izod licensed program and grew fashion towel business.
4. WestPoint Stevens, New York $48 $15 220%
Recently opened its first international sourcing office in Shanghai and intends to open more offices in other countries.
5. Revere Mills, Niles, Ill. $42 $45.8 (9)%
Increased partnerships in India to help supply growing placements at department and specialty stores.
Source: HTT Research


Bath towels
exporters to U.S.*
(does not include kitchen towels, dish cloths, or beach) $millions

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Abhishek Industries (Trident, Mumbai, India) $56 $48.7 15%
Trident continues to add capacity to expand its terry towel business.
2. Welspun India*, Mumbai, India $45 $39 15%
Welspun India is moving forward vigorously.
3. Bombay Dyeing, Mumbai, India $23 $18.6 24%
Towels remain an important category.
4. Afroze Textile Inds, Karachi, Pakistan $17 $13.8 23%
Afroze's remains focused on its core competencies.
5. Sunvim Hometexiles, Shandang, China $13.1 NA NA
Sunvim is one of the largest overall home textiles producers in China, but its export focus is now broadening and the United States will probably rise further as one of its primary markets.
*Excludes U.S. sales through Welspun USA
Source: HTT Research


Comforter shells
U.S.-based importers
$millions

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. WestPoint Stevens, West Point, Ga. $59 $51 15.7%
The major mill builds its business and ratchets up sourcing of high-count shells for its better goods business.
2. Springs Industries, Fort Mill, S.C. $41 $37 10.8%
Springs expands its sourcing as it builds sales of most of its core businesses at a heady double-digit pace following the collapse of rival Pillowtex.
3. Franco Mfg., New York $39 NA NA
WestPoint stepped up its sourcing as it expanded its own proprietary basic bedding business and then layers on the Ralph Lauren licensed business.
4. American Pacific, So. San Francisco, Calif. $37 $34 8.8%
With offices in China, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, Turkey and Mexico, American Pacific has historically sourced aggressively. Another 'stealth' company, American Pacific broke into the ranks of the nation's 15 largest suppliers last year.
5. Pacific Coast Feather, Seattle $34 $38 (10.5%)
In another challenging year for virtually all of its core businesses, Pacific Coast slowed down its imports as its comforter business settled down.
Source: HTT Research


Comforter shells
exporters to U.S.
$millions

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Pak-Fung Feather Co Ltd, Hong Kong $23 $32 (29%)
Pak-Fung continues to show the way toward the global market, already positioned nicely with major U.S. retailers and large suppliers.
2. Bombay Dyeing, Mumbai, India $15 $13.2 14%
Bombay Dyeing continues to look for new opportunities and growth in export markets.
3. Nishat Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $14.8 $12.3 20%
Nishat continues to see opportunity in the emerging marketplace.
4. Nanjing Meihua Feather & Down, Nanjing, China $6.7 $4.5 49%
Meihua is continually broadening its product base.
5. Luo Lai Home Textiles, Karachi, Pakistan $3 NA NA
A new entry directing its business at 2005 and the United States.
Source: HTT Research


Window treatments
(finished goods only) $millions
U.S.-based importers

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. CHF Ind., New York $135 $135 0%
In window, CHF has seen a move toward more embellished, higher-value products at higher price points. This year CHF made a big expansion with the introduction of fabric window shades and hardware. The company said it has been running its plants more efficiently and doing more domestic manufacturing.
2. Springs Ind., Fort Mill, S.C. $122 $113 9%
As its key customers expand their window business, Springs is leveraging both the expertise of its Burlington acquisition and the resources of its import division.
3. S. Lichtenberg, New York $107 $97 10%
The company is making more use of advantages China offers by opening an office in Shanghai in January and launching a manufacturing facility through a joint venture in Chengdu. Though the office has opened with a modest three-person staff, the company said that number will probably double by year-end.
4. Croscill, New York $76.5 $34 125%
Moving swiftly to build its global sourcing network, Croscill now imports a substantial>majority of its window treatments.
5. Regal, New York $46.3 $45 3%
Regal, a window-treatments importer for 18 years, continues to show steady growth while maintaining a low profile. The company imports from China but not to the exclusion of all others — also working with Turkey, Columbia and Portugal.
Source: HTT Research


Window treatments
(finished goods only) $millions
exporters to U.S.

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Ulusoy Tekstil, Istanbul, Turkey $16.3 $10.4 57%
U.S. sales are still a small part of its total export business.
2. Shaoxing Bolan Home Textiles, Shaoxing, China $11 $9 22%
Bolan continues to target the U.S. market.
3. Kucukcalik, Bursa, Turkey $10.2 $8.5 20%
Window treatments are a core business for this company.
4. Chenab Group Ltd., Faiselabad, Pakistan $7.3 $5.8 26%
Chenab's senior management remains at the lead encouraging government policies for greater exports.
5. Shaoxing Heng Feng Curtain, Shaoxing, China $6.4 $5.4 19%
One of the largest manufacturers in China, Heng Feng continues to expand its global presence.
Source: HTT Research


Table linens
$millions
U.S.-based importers

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. Town & Country Living, New York $96 $85 13%
Expanded overseas sourcing network and continues to build upon its existing joint venture.
2. Elrene Home Fashions, New York $63.5 $60.5 5%
Gained new placement at all levels of retail and grew distribution with existing customers; expanded kitchen textiles line, diversified vendor partnerships overseas.
3. Bardwil Linens, New York $47.3 $45 5%
New coordinates and brand introductions have helped grow the business.
4. Avonhome, Braintree, Mass. $41 $40 2.5%
Opened office in Shanghai, expanded into the drapery business, decorative pillows, and kitchen.
5. WC Designs, Anaheim, Calif. $28 $28 0%
Retained overseas partnerships with vendors and continued experiencing success with its upscale brands, including Waterford, Wedgwood and Calvin Klein
Source: HTT Research


Table linens
$millions
exporters to U.S.

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Handfab India, Panipat, India $18.8 $17.4 8%
Handfab has a sharp product focus. The operation counts major national chains among its customers.
2. Nishat Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $12.4 $11.6 7%
Nishat is a diversified giant with well over half of its production destined for export markets.
3. Coteminas, Sao Paulo, Brazil $11.7 $9.6 22%
Coteminas' alliance with Springs two years ago has been reaping huge benefits.
4. Kucukcalik, Istanbul, Turkey $10.9 $9.5 15%
Kucukcalik is one of the largest mills in Turkey. Table is its core competency.
5. Bombay Dyeing, Mumbai, India $10.1 $9 12%
Bombay Dyeing's textiles remain at its core. A key source in the global marketplace, the company's size presents no small challenge to continuing growth.
Source: HTT Research


Bed-in-a-bag
$millions
U.S.-based importers*

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. Springs, Fort Mill, S.C. $127 $100 27%
The mill's stepped-up imports have left domestic bed-in-a-bag rivals struggling for survival.
2. CHF Industries, New York $40 $20 100%
CHF has continued with its programs and added a few others in the bed-in-a-bag arena. The disruption in the domestic marketplace has resulted in opportunity for new programs.
3. Revman Industries, New York $20 $15 33.3%
The company's Bed to Go assortment has been strong and its patterns have performed very well this year.
4. Hollander Home Fashions, Boca Raton, Fla. $12 $10 20%
Hollander has increased the percentage of retail-ready items coming in and upped its investment in its Xioshan, China factories for greater capacity. It hired two new managers for its Shanghai office and increased sourcing from China, India, Pakistan and elsewhere.
5. WestPoint Stevens, West Point, Ga. $11 NA NA
As a result of stepping up its sourcing operations with the opening of its first office in Shanghai this past spring, WestPoint broke into the top five bed-in-a-bag importers.
* Includes U.S. divisions of foreign companies
Source: HTT Research


Bed-in-a-bag
$millions
exporters to U.S.

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Menderes Tekstil, I'zmir, Turkey $21 $18 17%
Menderes is a manufacturer of a broad variety of home textiles, but the focus is on bedding where exports produce about $45 million annually.
2. Coteminas, Sao Paulo, Brazil $17.9 $15 19%
While Coteminas expands its U.S. presence through more and deeper alliances, it's also been investing in infrastructure, modernizing three of its plants. And while its overall home textiles volume increased a very respectable 54.2 percent in 2002, its home textiles exports to the United States have grown more than two-and-a-half times.
3. Nishat Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $10.1 $7.4 37%
While clearly seeing its future in global trade, Nishat's senior executives have been leading proponents of stronger national and international export policies as a means to counter the competitive threat posed by China.
4. Kucukcalik, Istanbul, Turkey $9.7 $7 39%
The United States generates about one-third of Kucukcalik's overall business, which is focused mainly on windows. However, bedding is growing at a double-digit pace.
5. Barkah Textile & Printing Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $1.8 $1 180%
This smaller manufacturer has been expanding in the United States.
Source: HTT Research


Greige goods
$millions (USD)
U.S.-based importers*

Name, HQ 2004 import vol. 2003 import vol. % Chg.
1. Springs Industries, Fort Mill, S.C. $75 $63 19%
The major mill, one of the first to recognize that it can bring greige goods into the United States for far less than it can make them here, continues to ramp up imports as it picks up business following the death of Pillowtex.
2. WestPoint Stevens, West Point, Ga. $70 $31 125.8%
WestPoint aggressively stepped up its sourcing of greige goods, well more than doubling its imports this year, following the earlier lead of some of others.
3. Dan River, Danville, Va. $15 $20 (25)%
Reflecting a slowdown in sales in its core home fashions business, notably in its bed-in-a-bag franchise, Dan River slows down its imports and continues to rely heavily on domestic production.
4. Richloom, New York $15 $15 0%
The company continues to maintain a consistent level of imports.
5. Kaufman, New York $10 $10 0%
Although the company sources greige from several countries, it has not stepped up its overall level of importing.
* Includes U.S. divisions of foreign companies
Source: HTT Research


Greige goods
$millions (USD)
exporters to U.S.

Name, HQ 2004 export to U.S. 2003 export to U.S. % Chg.
1. Kohinoor Weaving Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $59 $54 9%
Overall, Kohinoor is the tenth largest exporter from Pakistan. The mill's business is heavily steeped in greige product, much of which comes to the Unites States.
2. Bangkok Weaving Mills, Bangkok, Thailand $53 $47 13%
Bangkok Weaving goes out of its way to maintain a low profile but, by most accounts, it is a supplier to U.S. firms.
3. Nishat Mills, Karachi, Pakistan $38.7 $33.6 15%
Nishat remains Pakistan's largest textiles exporter.
4. Sapphire Textile Mills, Lahore, Pakistan $24.6 $20.3 21%
Sapphire has recently been preparing for stronger competition.
5. Syncotex, Karachi, Pakistan $9 $8 13%
Syncotex is one of its own best customers for greige product.
Source: HTT Research


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