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As the world turns

Sometimes events and trends have an uncanny way of becoming eerie coincidences.

America's home textiles industry's several-year preoccupation with off-shore sourcing and HTT's first major overview of this phenomenon in this issue comes almost simultaneously with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Having been in Europe since the attacks, I've had the opportunity to get a sense of the mood both at home and abroad that again could well change the way Americans look at production of home textiles products.

The complexity of dealing globally is dramatically intensified when there are governmental restrictions or regulations and priorities established for goods and services that don't involve sheets and towels.

Even if the home textiles production center of a country is away from the center of that country's international activities, it still is affected by the scope of global needs.

Already we're hearing stories about how suppliers and retailers that have major programs coming out of countries intimately involved with the international crisis are rethinking their sourcing strategies.

Some American companies already have reviewed and altered their sourcing scenarios in low-cost producing countries, planning to send these products out to bid in Europe and other countries that may not be geographically involved with current conflicts.

The problem with this tactic is that many of these suppliers already have good production fulfillment. They and others typically do not have the capacity to fulfill the needs of major retailers that would see them as short-term partners.

And the likelihood of these companies even thinking of major domestic expansion is remote at best — and couldn't be achieved in the time frame necessary to serve the immediate American market needs.

European suppliers long have viewed American customers with some degree of skepticism. For the most part, we're not known for long-term relationships.

At the same time, the partners in the emerging nations may have little recourse in terms of fulfilling the terms of their home textiles business arrangements if their governments say otherwise.

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