Heimtex Supplies New Opportunity: U.S. vendors grow exports

Carole Sloan, Staff Staff, January 15, 2001

FRANKFURT, GERMANY — Although the number of U.S. finished goods manufacturers showing at Heimtextil last week was slight, many saw the show as a way to expand their export business in the face of a difficult climate in the U.S. retail market.

Avanti used the show to expand its European business, said president Michael Tauber, adding that although that type of business often builds incrementally, it represents a fresh avenue for sales over the long run.

"Any manufacturer, unless they've got too much business right now, they should get over here," he said.

Davidson Cotton Co. chairman and ceo Jim Fitzgibbons said the show provided an opportunity to expand international distribution of the company's Abouchar embellished towel business in Europe, South America and the Middle East.

"The luxury market internationally is really growing," he said. "There is a lot of retail interest here."

Bosal Foam and Fibre, which converts velour blanketing fabric into products ranging from throws to craft squares, targeted Eastern European markets in particular. President Bob Harrisburg added that he was satisfied with the variety of international retailers coming through the U.S. pavilion, which was sponsored by the U.S Department of Commerce.

"Compared to American shows, I find this to be refreshing," he said. "Your finding new people all the time who have never been exposed to the products."

Mohawk export manager Juan Carlos Lopez noted that many international retailers are not strictly price oriented. "All of the customers we're dealing with are looking for quality," he said. "Price is an issue, but quality is becoming more important."

European and Chinese retail companies, in particular, are more open to step-up merchandise, according to Lonnie Scheps, vp, sales manager, Hudson Industries. "They don't have the same competitive situation so they don't have as much difficulty selling better product," he said.

U.S. manufacturers also used the show to touch base with U.S. retailers — whose numbers in the aisles seemed to outstrip the number of domestic finished goods manufacturers with displays.

Retail buyers included those from JCPenney, Sears, MarMaxx, Macy's, Fred Meyer, Bloomingdale's, Federated, May Company and Kmart, among others.

For Dormisette, which focuses heavily on producing private-label programs for catalog retailers, Heimtextil served as a bridge between the New York fall market show and spring previews.

"We're not initiating new business here, but it does give our customers a chance to look at strike-offs," said partner Ryan Jones. "We'll follow up again in February. It's all part of a continuous cycle."

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