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Optimism at Decosit

Brussels, Belgium — American fabric suppliers see renewed opportunities in the export marketplace — a combination of currency values, better goods emphasis and global sourcing used to advantage.

And most of the Americans showing at Decosit here are looking forward to a stronger than usual event

“I feel the time is right and ripe,” Jim Richman, president of Richloom, stated. While the company “was doing some export, it wasn't our focus. Now we're going to give it more emphasis.”

Part of the reasoning for the renewed push, Richman admitted, comes from the value of the dollar versus the euro. But more significantly, he explained, is the change in sourcing of fabrics that now enables the company to ship directly from the source country where it has company facilities to Europe, rather than bring the fabrics into the United States and shipping them out again.

“Export is doing great,” proclaimed Roger Gilmartin, executive vice president, Covington Industries. “We're looking forward to a great Decosit; it's always a good show.” Admitting that the value of the dollar plays a big role, Gilmartin added, “It's also the way the line is developed.”

“We're focusing on particular markets for export,” said Irwin Gasner, president of Wearbest Sil-tex Mills. The strongest market for the company is Australia which is well represented among the customers at Decosit, “but we're expanding our efforts geographically.”

And though silk and silk-blend fabrics are being sourced in China “and are a growing part of the business,” the company will continue to bring them into the United States and export them as needed, Gasner said.

For Craftex, this Decosit “is a big step for us,” said Jack Eger, vice president. “We're trying to make a major effort in export. We're a late starter, but we plan export to be a significant part of our business. What we're doing now is not enough to grow — with new products, new distribution.”

Most important, Eger noted, “We can't go in and out (of export) like we did in the past. Last year's Decosit convinced us of the opportunity.”

“We're making outstanding progress. Export is very good and getting better” and now represents 5 percent of the company's total sales, said Mike Shelton, president of Valdese. And while the currency values are playing a role, Shelton believes the firm's emphasis on better goods is also playing a big part.

While Decosit is an important event for American Silk, “We show primarily for our existing customer base — they come here to shop,” explained Robin Slough, vice president. Export for the company “is a modest one, but a growing opportunity especially for the specific constructions we have made in China. It's a very specific opportunity.”

At Quaker, with its global network, “We always have a good Decosit and think this will be another. Attendance should be strong,” said Tom Muzekari, vice president.

Taking a global overview, Muzekari called export “struggling a bit” with Turkey, India and the United Kingdom slow; the Middle East and Europe “good for us” as well as Australia/New Zealand and Singapore. “Brazil is starting to grow,” he added.

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