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Jennifer Marks

Bombay Dyeing Eyes U.S. Office

Longtime Indian sheet manufacturer Bombay Dyeing is readying a new state-of-the-art facility, eyeing a New York showroom space, and preparing to step up its export efforts with the appointment in recent of industry veteran K.K. Lalpuria as president.

Lalpuria, who has spent the past four years as a consultant to the Indian home textiles industry, spent the previous 10 with towel giant Welspun, and as exports president was responsible for the manufacturer's entry into the United States.

Although Bombay was the dominant Indian sheet mill during the pre-quota era before 2005, it held back following the elimination of quota to see how the market would stabilize, said Lalpuria.

"In 2004, Alok entered the sheet business. In 2005, it was Welspun. Then GHCL in 2006 and Indo-Count in 2007," Lalpuria said. "The strategy Bombay followed was to wait to see what was established. They were not desperate for exports at the cost of margins."

Like many other manufacturers in India, Bombay Dyeing is relocating its manufacturing from the city center to an industrial area outside Mumbai in Ranjangaon. The new continuous-process sheeting plant is currently in trial phase and is expected to begin production in September, Lalpuria said. Its capacity will be 5 million sheet sets per year.

"It is close to a satellite town of Bombay where there is good skilled labor. One of Bombay Dyeing's strengths is it has the people, the structures, the knowledge of the sheeting business," he said.

When the new plant comes on line, Bombay will close its urban facility and convert the area into residential and shopping use. The company maintains a strong branded presence within India, operating over 650 retail shops and entering negotiations last year with French retailing titan Carrefour about a venture in India.

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