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Go West…And East…And South

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, March 1, 2010

Over the last year, we've heard about more and more home textiles suppliers — nee manufacturers — looking beyond what appears to be an increasingly inbred U.S.-based business.

As these companies seek to reinvent themselves, there are many options being contemplated. Interestingly, quite a few are looking at global opportunities. Some are moving into this arena somewhat sotto voce, others are quite verbal as to their intentions.

But one way or another, there is a realization among many suppliers that there is an American design cachet that resonates already in certain parts of the world, and there are other parts of the world that have not really been exposed to American design for the home — a facet of design that may or may not be globally translatable.

Since the goods basically are produced in the same geographical areas — China, India, Pakistan and Turkey for mainstream product — the design factor is the key element that separates the United States from everywhere else. It's been ever thus, and probably is part of our DNA.

Anyway, what we're finding is that as vast as our domestic market is, it is increasingly being filled by the retailers themselves going direct.

As a solution — and one that probably should have been identified years ago — suppliers are looking off-shore for growth. In this issue, we discuss the plans for Springs Global and Home Fashions International — two radically different business models — as they outline growth opportunities. And there are many others that prefer to stay below the radar at this point, but there is no question that they are out there.

It's amazing when talking with many American suppliers how many believe that shipping from supply sources in China and other manufacturing bases is a difficult thing. I question how they think retail and wholesale customers from Europe, South America, the Middle East and other parts get their goods, the response often is a blank stare.

Granted “export” as we know it here takes a lot of time, energy sand commitment to organize and develop and grow, but it may possibly be one of the major salvation steps for many supplier companies as the domestic market shrinks because of direct sourcing.

It's a key assist, one that should be explored, and one that has many different ways of creating a solution to growing a business that is based in this country.

The global shows are a significant venue for meeting theses potential customers, but it's no secret that there's a significant number of off-shore retailers and distributors that will be in town next week as well as at other home show events around the country during the year.

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