Welspun USA Fixed on Performance

New York — Welspun USA has put a new focus on technology, product performance and marketing — the latest initiative from a company that has methodically built its profile in the U.S. market over the past several years.

From a strategic standpoint, parent Welspun India Limited is pursuing a multi-pronged strategy to serve top accounts in the world's major market, targeting at least 60% of its capacity to the United States, according to Anurag Sharma, president.

“The strategy is to go global, not keep all the eggs in one basket,” Sharma said.

If the business development remains on pace, by 2010 the company plans to be a one-stop shop producing a variety of product categories, he added. Welspun plans to pursue growth both organically — as with the launch into sheet production last year and blankets this year — as well as through acquisition. The company is looking at potential deals around the world, Sharma said.

For the moment, it is a serious factor in towels and a developing player in sheets. Sheeting capacity is now 65% to 70% booked, he said. The product development emphasis is on creating unique, performance-oriented product for the upper-moderate pricing tier.

“We've gotten away from talking about what the towel is made of to what the towel will do for the consumer when she takes it home,” said Jerry McCarthy, U.S. sales director.

Welspun is pulling its lines into a cohesive, consumer-oriented merchandising, packaging and marketing story.

“Everybody is tired of size and weight and thread counts,” said Anurag Sharma, president, Welspun India. “We feel the consumer really wants things to perform.”

Products fall under one of two merchandising umbrellas: wellness and performance.

The wellness umbrella in towels and sheets is Viteré: Earth Elements. Products feature botanicals and assume a cosmetic flair in positioning and packaging:

  • Aquas features a Welspun-trademarked fiber blend called Seaspun, which has anti-oxidant properties.

  • Soya is constructed from Welspun's trademarked Soyacot fiber, which moisturizes the skin.

  • Aloe's cotton fibers are enhanced with aloe and jojoba.

  • Sasa is a cotton/bamboo blend that tells a story of breathe-ability, and is anti-bacterial.

  • Vita e, in sheets, is infused with skin-soothing Vitamin E.

  • Latte, from a blend of cotton and milk-derived fiber, is anti-bacterial and makes a pitch for luxuriating in a milk bath.

  • Ecos is Welspun's organic cotton line. Both the cotton and Welspun's production facility for Ecos, including its dyeing function, have been certified by Skal, the Dutch standard-setting agency for organic cotton.

“It's important to build brands that are focused,” said industry marketing veteran Bob Hamilton, Hamilton Concepts Inc., who is consulting with Welspun. “It's an emotional sale.”

Where Viteré appeals to the heart, Welspun's +2 Performance line speaks to the head:

  • Ultrazorb is spun, woven and finished to make it 25% more absorbent than standard towels.

  • Lolint is constructed to produce less linting in towels, while Lopilling makes a similar performance promise in sheets.

  • Fresh incorporates Xstastic silver threading with its anti-odor and anti-bacterial properties.

  • Comfort is the marketing handle for products made with the hollow-cored Hygro Cotton because of its thermal factor.

  • Soft is the brand name for zero-twist products.

  • In Performance bath, Welspun also created a +2 Sport towel made of cotton and bamboo with 10% charcoal in the base to reduce odor.

Welpsun has produced brochures and take-away cards for many for the Performance and Vetere lines, including pieces that provide tips for better linen performance.

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