Heimtex: Fabric firms satisfied

Carole Sloan, January 14, 2002

Frankfurt, Germany — Not great but better than expected.

This was the assessment of fabric exhibitors at Heimtextil here last week.

Traffic definitely was down, exhibitors reported, with few buyers from South America, especially Argentina, as well as South Africa. Some exhibitors also reported fewer European customers.

And the value of the dollar — a key issue in the last two years — still remains a conversation topic, but is more in the background than in the past.

"It was a very good week — our most successful show," Mark Berman, chairman and ceo of Rockland Industries, remarked. He added, "The dollar/Euro rate is not an issue today. The Euro is strong enough that it is in the back of [peoples'] minds but not significant."

For Swavelle Mill Creek, the show was "better than expected," said Joe Kenney, vp, export. "We're definitely glad we're here," he added, acknowledging the dropout of many American exhibitors.

"Overall it might be slower, [but] it actually was good," said Larry Liebenow, president and ceo, Quaker Fabric.

As for traffic, he said, "We had some significantly stronger attendance from our European, Middle Eastern, Asian, Australian/New Zealand customers, but not normal traffic from South Africa, Turkey and South America."

In addition, he noted that "customers were commenting a lot about the absence of so many American exhibitors."

As for the strength of the dollar, Liebenow said, "People have adapted to it; they know what products [for which] they can pay our prices."

Several Americans showing at hotels nearby agreed with the general sentiments. "It was all right; we got some orders, but it's a different strategy than being at the show," said Jeff Rubin, vp, Edgar Fabrics. "I miss the show."

"It was good, not great," said Steve Fanning, export manager, Richloom. "We saw mostly people we usually see." He said the reason for the company's departure from the show was "still the dollar issue."

Blumenthal uses Heimtextil, as many others do, as a venue for selling and sourcing, said Harry Blumenthal, president. Traffic, he said, was not as much as last year. "But we did have some very good visitors."

"We have been very busy, and even wrote some business," said Ed Gargiulo, export manager, Lanscot-Arlen.

A significant point, Gargiulo added, was that "there was more enthusiasm from customers. The bottom has hit."

Another critical point, according to Luc Callen, director of Algemene, "is the natural makeup of exhibitors. There are fewer suppliers showing from Italy and Belgium because of the knockoffs shown at the same time from China, Pakistan and India, among others. As a result, the importance of Heimtex is dropping."

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