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  • Jennifer Marks

Suppliers Active at Intertextil

Shanghai, China — As the industry's center of gravity shifts toward China, a few American faces joined the exhibitors' roster at last week's Intertextil Shanghai show. They weren't alone. Although Chinese manufacturers dominate the annual event, this year's show also hosted a handful of exhibitors from Europe, Pakistan, Japan, Korea, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Suppliers voiced enthusiasm for the marketplace.

TexStyle Asia, a wholly-owned division of Cincinnati-based TexStyle, made its show debut last week with an eye toward international business as well as the U.S. retail accounts working the halls. “Obviously, our priority is to take care of the U.S. business,” said Mike Crotty, president, “but why shouldn't we sell Europe? Why shouldn't we sell Russia? Why shouldn't we sell Japan? We're a Chinese company. We can do it.”'

Richloom Shanghai Trading Group made its maiden run at the trade fair. The independent business was set up by North Carolina-based Richloom, which can now ship FOB out of China. Launched just seven weeks ago after two years of negotiating, Richloom Shanghai is being positioned to revive the company's export business.

“I would say this is one of the best-attended shows I've seen in a while,” said Steve Fanning, vp, global export sales. “For the upholstery side of our business, it's been an order-writing show. For the other business, it's a sampling show. ­This trading company also allows us to sell pieces goods and deliver them over here.”

Richloom Shanghai also allows the company to address the contract business. “We're in the right spot,” said Rocco Tallarita, vp, contract sales. “The contract business has been slowly coming over, and we've seen American companies with offices set up here.”

American Century Home was another newcomer to Intertextil Shanghai. The company, based in ZheJiang Province, is preparing to aggressively expand its finished product business (see related story, page 1). Exhibiting at the show was meant “to present us as a major player in the U.S. market,” said Jason Jiang, board chairman.

At the show, he was able to work with retail buyers from the home textiles world as well as senior executives from the furniture world, he said. In addition, American Century Home is preparing to start selling finished textiles into the Chinese market, and the show exposed the company to potential customers.

Among perennial exhibitors, there was less talk this year about major capital investments and more about the need to stay ahead of the burgeoning competition.

Meiuan Weave Future exports 90% of its products — curtains, bedding, kitchen textiles and now fabric — to the U.S. market. The new fabric line is intended to serve as a platform for the rest of the business, said Wen Jian Mo, general manager.

“There's more competition now, and the pricing is being squeezed not by the American customers but by the local competitors,” he said. “The future is to innovate with new product and new fabrics.”

Veken is also paying a lot more attention to fabric development for its bed-in-bag and sheets, and is shifting from an OEM strategy. Veken would like to take a stake in an American company and buy a European brand, said Xiaofeng Ye.

She and other sizable manufacturers said the recent cuts the Chinese government made to the export tax rebate, as well as the newly stepped up interest rates, will ultimately be good for China's home textiles industry. Most executives interviewed by HTT said the changes will force out smaller, low-quality players that had relied upon the rebates and cheap borrowing power.

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