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Changes in the Global Mix

Former U.S. Firms now Big Exporters to U.S.

A spate of international acquisitions has put three former U.S. mills back into the mix among the leading global manufacturers of towels, sheets and bed ensembles.

Although the U.S. business for Springs Global is significantly less than it was a few years ago at then-domestic manufacturer Springs Industries, the operation tops all three charts for international production.

Meanwhile, WestPoint Bahrain — the former Manama Textiles Mills acquired by Icahn Enterprises' WestPoint International division last year — charts in sheets as well as bed ensembles, which is a much smaller part of the facility's production.

The first-time appearance of GHCL-owned Dan River Global among the leading bed ensembles producers comes as no surprise, but the scope of vertical mill's business in sheet sets places it competitively in the second-tier group of sheet manufacturers.

A fourth U.S. firm — Royale Linens — joins the pack among sheeting leaders following its acquisition earlier this year by Yunus Group, which is expanding its capacities to make an aggressive run at the U.S. bed ensembles market.

Strong market share growth continued for leading Indian manufacturers Welspun, Trident and Alok — each of which is moving into other categories to become more important to its largest customers.

China's major towel manufacturers — Sunvim and Loftex — also grabbed more market this year. But both are balancing their businesses by pursuing growth in Europe. Meanwhile China's sheeting leaders are looking to fashion bedding as a way to grow beyond the dog-eat-dog sheet set business. And Shanghai-based Westgate continues to push into new product categories, most recently bath.

Pakistan's leading manufacturers haven't been as hard hit by the dollar devaluation as their competitors in China and India, but they are feeling the global pain of rising raw material prices. The unsettled political situation is also keeping buyers from on-site visits.

SHEETS ($millions)

Company Name, HQ 2007 export to U.S.
1. Springs Global Sao Paolo, Brazil $280
After transitioning most of its production out of the United States to Brazil, Mexico and Asia, the company expects to return to full capacity by Q1 2008.
2. Alok Mumbai, India 126
Opened a permanent New York showroom and signed an agreement with licensing/marketing firm Aisle 5 for distribution in U.S. and Canadian supermarket chains.
3. Welspun Mumbai, India 114
In its second full year as a sheet manufacturer, business is being driven by a significant branded business, including Nautica.
4. Yunus/Royale Linens Karachi, Pakistan 103
Acquired Royale Linens as its U.S. marketing/sales, design and EDI distribution network. Plans to add another print facility by mid-2008 that will boost printing capacity by 50%.
5. WestPoint Bahrain Manama, Bahrain 68
In its first year under WestPoint International ownership, the former Manama Textile Mills expanded capacity to step up volume.
Source: HTT research


BED ENSEMBLES ($millions)

Company Name, HQ 2007 export to U.S.
1. Springs Global Sao Paolo, Brazil $120
After transitioning most of its production out of the United States to Brazil, Mexico and Asia, the company expects to return to full capacity by Q1 2008.
2. GHCL/Dan River Global Noida, India 85
Has spent the past year integrating back office and supply chain operations for Dan River, GHCL and Baker hospitality businesses.
3. Westgate Shanghai, China 85
While the core bed ensemble business continues to grow, Westgate nudged into the bath business this year to position itself as a one-stop shop.
4. WestPoint Bahrain Manama, Bahrain 22
Although the facility's business is sheet-dominated, bed ensembles are a growing part of production.
5. Al-Abid Karachi, Pakistan 15
Has hired a U.S. design studio to help expand the business.
Source: HTT research


BATH TOWELS ($millions)

Company Name, HQ 2007 export to U.S.
1. Springs Global Sao Paolo, Brazil $240
After transitioning most of its production out of the United States to Brazil, Mexico and Asia, the company expects to return to full capacity by Q1 2008.
2. Welspun Mumbai, India 235
Working the value-added segment of the market, the company is driving growth in organic towels as well as its proprietary Hygro Cotton.
3. Abhishek/Trident Ludhiana, India 102
Just broke ground on a facility that will expand spinning and towel capacity while putting the company into the bedding business for the first time.
4. Sunvim Binzhou, China 60
Big jump in U.S. business, but being named official supplier for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is biggest point of pride this year.
5. Loftex Qingdao, China 50
Expanded business in Europe to broaden trade portfolio, but still grew U.S. business by 42%.
Source: HTT research


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