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Alok Will Enter Bath in 2006

Mumbai, India — A little more than two years after launching into the sheet business, Alok Industries is now setting up towel production and will enter the contentious global bath business in mid-2006.

The garment and knit manufacturer entered the sheet business in 2003. This year, Alok expects to ship $70 million in sheets to the United States — making it one of the largest offshore exporters of sheets to the country.

The company has taken its finishing capacity to 200,000 meters per day, giving it the ability to produce 30,000 sets a day.

“We're also in the process of setting up spinning capacities for certain specialty and high-count yarns,” said Alok Jiwrajka, the company director. “And we are at an advanced stage of finalizing our plans for opening an office in New York.”

As part of the company push to become a more complete home textiles manufacturer, Alok has also installed a quilting facility for expansion into comforters and other top of bed products. Its weaving operating will expand from 600 looms to 1,000 by mid 2006.

“We are also in the process of developing a wide range of cotton blankets, table linen and curtains,” he said. “Competition will see the fittest grow faster.”

The bulk of Alok's business today is done in 400- and 600-count sheets, he said. Under quota, order sizes were averaging 3,000 to 5,000 sets. This year they have ballooned to 15,000 to 20,000 sets per order, “and now we expect order sizes to be even larger,” he said.

“We see the business growing at a fast pace from here on,” he added. “The order turnaround time in 2004 was 90 to 120 days. Today it is 60 to 90 days. Our endeavor to further reduce this time frame will enhance our competitive edge.”

Although several spinning mills in India are now also attempting to expand into the sheet business, Alok sees room for the additional capacity. He pointed to rising polyester prices as a scenario that will push more business into cotton, which India considers an advantage.

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