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Jennifer Marks

Traffic Down, Business Up at Heimtextil

Heimtextil was a matter of quality trumping quantity.

Though the drop-off in visitor traffic was unmistakeable, most finished products exhibitors interviewed by HTT said their meetings were all solid and promising.

Official Pillowtex LLC, which owns the Cannon and Fieldcrest brands, among others, exhibited at Heimtextil to attract new international licensees for both labels. By halfway through the trade fair, it looked poised to add up to six new licensees to its nine existing international Cannon manufacturers and about the same number to its current roster of four international Fieldcrest license holders.

"Some of them are people who had the licenses under the old Pillowtex, but we're opening new territories as well — South Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines," said Rick Platt, managing director. "And you should see the money that they spend to promote the brand. It's not like U.S. retailing."

Despite the thin crowds on opening day, Faribault ceo Mike Harris described it as his company's best day at Heimtextil ever.

"My perception is that traffic was down, but the quality of the meetings has been very high," he said. "We're also seeing people from up and coming parts of the world — and they're serious about buying."

First-time exhibitor Shri Lakshmi Cotsyn Ltd., a 15-year-old textiles producer that will launch sheet and towel production this spring, was pleased by the assortment of buyers. "You need a lot of people with different [levels of quality interest] so you will have an opportunity to select what is best for you," said Pawan Kumar Agarwal, joint managing director. "We have booked some orders also."

EA International, a packaging company, was at the show to demonstrate more environmentally friendly bags to contractors, suppliers, and manufacturers. Debbie Mills, vp of design and product development, said she landed some new customers there.

"This is one of the best shows for making contacts from all over the world," Mills said.

Biederlack found buyers from the international community "very optimistic," said Peter McCabe, president of Beiderlack of America. "Everybody from the states we talk to has been cautious."

Working their way among off-shore manufacturers, American retailers were also pursuing resources with multi-national reach, said Nakshbandi Industries ceo Mustafa Teli. "They want to know how many plants do you have, do you have a plant in China, are you buying any U.S. companies," he said. "They are looking for global suppliers."

Towellers also found U.S. buyers to be cautious as well. "It's not easy to open doors," said Sh. Mohammed Obaid. "We come here to find new customers. We don't need to be here to meet old customers. Also, the cost to exhibit must come down."

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