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WPS does balancing act overseas

WestPoint Stevens

New York

President/coo: Chip Fontenot

Principal businesses: synthetic fibers, yarns, fabrics apparel

According to WestPoint Stevens' president/coo Chip Fontenot, overseas sourcing is all about balance.

The major mill does most of its sourcing from China, Pakistan and India as well as some European countries. Although the main attractiveness of going overseas may be the lower costs involved for many companies, that is not necessarily the case for WestPoint Stevens, said Fontenot.

"We're not driven totally by third-world, low-cost providers all the time," he said. "For us, it's a matter of balance between what we do well inside the United States and what we think we need to outsource for a variety of reasons."

Fontenot said that WestPoint Stevens remains committed to the 24 home textiles plants it currently owns and operates within the United States. WestPoint Stevens, in fact, has its own sourcing division. But some things, Fontenot said, would continue to be manufactured here, such as commodity items.

WestPoint Stevens is also committed to growing and marketing its brand as well and its licensed Ralph Lauren collection in Europe. The secret to sourcing offshore is in having a successful brand, Fontenot felt, since a brand name adds value to the product.

"If you've got something to go offshore with, it's got to be something valuable like a brand," he said. "We've been fairly successful with them."

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