Heimtextil Exhibitors Gear Up for 2008

Carole Sloan, January 7, 2008

New product launches are expected to bolster the business outlook for global suppliers to the American and European home textiles market in 2008, according to many exhibitors at Heimtextil here this week.

At the same time, the exchange rate of the dollar to the euro, rupee and yuan will impact the growth opportunities, with prices expected to increase in the United States, suppliers reported. As a result, while the United States will continue to be a prime export target, other areas such as Western and Eastern Europe and South America will be growth markets. Suppliers to the United States are emphasizing efficiencies in production as well as improved quality to enhance their positions with their customers in that market.

From a product perspective, organic and eco-friendly constructions will be in the spotlight here this week. Recycled fibers as well as eco-friendly fibers like cotton, silk, wool, linen and hemp will be featured as well as a growing use of non-toxic dyes and finishes. From a color and design perspective, there is no single standout direction, with some suppliers pointing to bright and bold colors and others identifying a more simple and earthy approach.

As an example, Joseph Shafran, vp of Faze Three Limited, believes 2008 will produce better business than 2007 with an increase in European distribution as a result of its acquisition of Pana. Currently the U.S./Canadian market provides 65% of the company's business, with Europe providing 35%.

Interestingly, Adrian Fletcher, director of Pakistan-based Hometex commented that "a lot of European customers are now asking for prices in U.S. dollars instead of Euros. Overall, he anticipates business as about even with '07, with 90% going to European customers.

For Nanjing Summit Home Textiles of China, the projection for this year will be better than '07, in the opinion of Li Lun, general manager, who also noted that business was impacted by the currency valuations. Similarly, Nancy Zhu, sales manager of Jiangsu Canasin Weaving of China said "the fluctuation of the value of the U.S. dollar and the change of the drawback tax affected our business much," and the outlook for this year is for less business, and more exports to Europe versus the North American market.

At Amtex Ltd. of Pakistan, this year is forecast to be better than '07 with little change in market penetration, according to Hassan Suleri, marketing manager. The company does about 56% of its business in the U.S./Canada, 40% in Europe, and 4% in Asia. In terms of product changes, Suleri sees more vibrant colors resulting from the success of its Bellissima brand in Europe that now will be offered in the United States.

For Zorluteks of Turkey, "we expect less business with the United States this year," according to Ebru Durmaz, communications specialist, who also noted that the company expects less volume than in '07.

At the same time, Zorluteks has launched three new product collections under the themes: Vintage Bohemian, Dandy Select and Luxury Baroque.

At Shanghai Cathaya International Trading of China, the value of the dollar and the euro in '07 "has caused us a big problem," said Xu Jianxin, assistant general manager. And while the company expects business to hold about even, it will become even more aggressive in pursuing sales.

While the U.S./Canada market is expected to remain the larger portion of its sales, Aamer Shaffi, general manager, marketing for Al-Abid Silk Mills of Pakistan, noted "companies are moving up in quality with higher thread counts, reactive prints and green packaging." In addition, there has been a positive effect with European companies willing to pay more for embellishments and higher thread counts due to lower landed costs.

For Textera Fabrics of India, "we are concentrating more on the U.S. market for 2008 and expect to increase the percentage of sales there to equal that of the European market," according to L. Saravanan, director of marketing. Currently, the company does 70% of its business in Europe and the balance in the U.S./Canada market.

Noting that the dollar valuation has impacted sales, Arif Kamal, director of India's Woodson Impex, sees business holding to 2007 levels this year but profitability will improve in the European and the British distribution, while American sales will increase.

For Shanghai Homestead Textiles of China, exports to the United States and Canada should increase this year, according to Rick Rogers, managing director of the company's wholly owned subsidiary American Homeland of the United States. Overall, the company expects an increase in sales and the U.S./Canada percentage should increase from its current 15% share.

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