HFI ramps up production capabilities to expand global reach
Retail Editor 2 -- Home Textiles Today, September 6, 2012
New York -- Home Furnishing International - the umbrella of which home textiles manufacturer Home Fashions International is a part - is advancing an aggressive global growth strategy, and as part of that has embarked on a massive expansion with a substantial investments in new machinery and equipment at its primary facility in Rugao, China.
The fabric and home furnishings supplier is investing more than $20 million in the facility, and over the past year has doubled the size of the plant to 1 million square feet.
"We are firmly committed to being a vertical manufacturer and continue to expand and invest in our mills, our machinery, our product line and our people," said David Li, president and ceo of the privately-held company. He noted HFI's annual sales are currently estimated at more than $200 million.
"At a time when many of our competitors are cutting back on research and development, we are adding new technologies and capacity to continue our evolution as a leader in the global market," Li added.
The company has also added a complete printing and finishing operation, possibly making the facility one of the largest vertical printing houses in the world. It operates under the direction of Shen Jian, president of Shanghai Orient West Decorative Fabrics, the Chinese division of HFI.
Offering more detail on the printing production expansion, Li said the Rugao plant currently has a 12-color printing and piece-dyeing capacity of 1 million meters of wide width fabrics per week and is running at full capacity with 12 dyeing and two high-speed printing ranges.
"These printing ranges run at 80 meters per minute," Le continued. "Four additional printing ranges will be installed by the end of 2013, bringing the total annual capacity to 200 million meters of wide width fabrics."
In addition, HFI has invested in modern machinery for yarn-dyeing, weaving, piece-dyeing, specialty printing and a full range of finishing operations, including scouring, sanforizing, bleaching, sanding, brushing, calendering, washing, tumbling, steaming, and specialty treatments and finishes. The facility also acquired customized equipment to produce and process faux leather.
"As a large vertical mill, we can perform better than those competitors who have to outsource with unreliable vendors," said Li. For example, right now nearly all of the top 10 bedding manufacturers in China are printing at the Rugao plant, and our initial production runs that were introduced at our first market in China have completely sold out."
Based on the reaction to its initial printed fabrics, HFI is launching its first-ever collection of printed bedroom ensembles for the U.S. market. (See related story, this page.)
"We are using our new facilities and equipment to offer a range of truly unique and innovative printed beds," he said.
Looking at the bigger picture, the increases in manufacturing capacity and product lines are designed to support HFI's "ambitious plans" for growth in the international market, the company said.
"In spite of the current challenging economic climate, we believe there are many untapped markets for our products," Li said. "We have been developing infrastructure and management capabilities in numerous countries in order to support our international trade."
To date, the company's international expansion has resulted in more than $50 million in non-U.S. and non-China business this year. Sales to Brazil, for example, have been increasing at a rate of 20% and higher over the past four consecutive years. Business in Argentina has doubled in one year. And Chile's first container of HFI merchandise has just been shipped.
"Our Mexican division has been operating for more than seven years, and resumed growth this year," Li noted. "We hope to launch our first line in Colombia next year, which will round out our South American strategy."
Elsewhere, the company formed a strategic partnership with Goodrich Global in Singapore to service Southeast Asia, and five programs consisting of more than 250 skus are being shipped this year. HFI and its associated companies expect to ship 10 million meters of fabric to Turkey this year. The company also is servicing clients in the Middle East with a warehouse in Lebanon, and earlier this year formed a strategic partnership in South Africa.
"We feel we are well-positioned for growth in major markets throughout the world," Li summed. "For example, our 275,000 square foot distribution center in Gaffney, S.C. is now a duty-free zone, allowing us to better service our customers throughout North and South America. We have been experiencing a very good reaction in global markets to our combination of fashionable products, commitment to customer service and competitive prices."
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