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Welspun Branches Out

Mumbai, India — Welspun Industries is moving aggressively to broaden its product range.

India's powerhouse towel manufacturer earlier this month began shipping its first orders for sheet sets — but already executives envision a future that includes rugs and top-of-bed products, which would make the mill more of a one-stop shop for buyers.

The company's new sheeting facility in Anjar has the capacity to produce 5.5 million sheet sets annually, backed up by 57,700 spindles. The plant can manufacturer thread counts from 180 to 1,000 and handles bleach, dyed, printed, embroidered, flannel and yarn-dye constructions. It also can produce a variety of blends, including those employing cotton, silk, modal and linen, with various types of finishes, according to the company.

"The greatest advantage is the continuous bleaching and continuous dyeing, so there is no batch-to-batch inconsistency," said Anurag Sharma, senior vice president of marketing. "The cut-and-sew operation is almost 90 percent automated, so there is uniformity in stitching from sheet to sheet. Up to the folding process, there is minimal human handling."

Although Welspun expects its heaviest concentration of sheet business to fall in the 300- to 500-count constructions, Sharma said, it is pursuing programs ranging from the mass market to department stores. The target market for the operation is the United States.

Top-of-bed product is coming "very soon," he said. But another priority is the rug business, beginning with bath rugs to coordinate with Welspun's towel programs.

"We are very seriously looking at rugs. Probably in the next four to five months. We're going to open to some sort of strategic alliance," he added.

Welspun also recently beefed up its towel plant in Anjar, doubling capacity to more than 23,000 metric tons annually.

"Worldwide, we are finding existing capacities that are redundant or not modernizing," Sharma said.

In addition, Welspun's New York office is relocating to a larger showroom at 295 Fifth Ave. in advance of next month's New York Home Textiles Market. The new location in room 820 is triple the size of the previous showroom. Sharma will join the office permanently later this year, he said.

Charles Gaenslen, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the U.S. business, pointed to the changes as emblematic of Welspun's commitment to the market.

"There's been a serious investment made in India. The company also has the awareness that it's not enough just to invest in the machinery; it's also necessary to invest here in the front end," he said.

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