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  • Jennifer Marks

Top 15 Suppliers at 14-Year Low

Two Titans Tumble by $651 Million

The nation's Top 15 home textiles suppliers continued to lose market share as a group in 2007, with sales sliding 9.2% to $5.7 billion from $6.3 billion in 2006.

Worth noting in that comparison: HTT has adjusted Springs' 2006 total sales down by $580 million, based on data from public filings that appeared following last year's report.

The 2007 total marks the lowest aggregate sales volume for the leading supplier group since 1993, when the Top 15 also posted sales of $5.7 billion.

The Top 15 saw more than half a billion dollars in sales evaporate, with the industry's two largest players taking the heaviest blows. Collectively, Springs Global and WestPoint Home lost $651 million in sales last year, as smaller players and off-shore mills snapped up business in the wake of both companies' extended transition into global mills.

For Springs Global, this was a year in which much of its equipment spent time on the water headed to new lodgings in South America. WestPoint, too, shuttered swaths of domestic capacity as it turned its attention to newly acquired manufacturing facilities in Bahrain and Pakistan, as well as increased global sourcing.

Their sales declines — and those of four other Top 15 suppliers — were counterbalanced by generally slim gains posted by five other suppliers. The most notable among them: Welspun US, which alone added $72 million in sales as it ramped up its sheet business and continued to accumulate share in the towel category.

Dan River — now the U.S. division of India conglomerate GHCL — also saw sales decline sharply in its transition year: down 14.7% to $162 million. In its domestic mill days, it was until 2005 the steady No. 5 on the Top 15, with sales in the $500 million range. Today, it occupies the No. 15 spot. But a new executive team has vowed to revitalize the company through product innovation and new licenses.

For some Top 15 suppliers, sales declines were a matter of walking away from bad business, opting to pursue a smaller-but-healthier strategy.

Hollander Home Fashions pulled out of the fashion bedding business to focus on its core competencies in utility bedding. Mohawk Home dropped its ancillary businesses in woven throws, dec pillows and bedspreads to concentrate on soft flooring. CHF and Croscill, while not withdrawing from any categories (indeed, Croscill expanded them) also took the tack of putting profit margin first in a retail environment that has consistently mitigated against it.

New to the ranking is Divatex, which has unobtrusively built its business around its manufacturing and sourcing expertise in sheeting. It was acquired last year by India's Himatsingka, a family-owned manufacturer of high-end fabrics that hopes to leverage that expertise in its new bedding plant. Himatsingka also acquired DWI Holdings last year.

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