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Exports Grow, But Not Just to U.S.

Ankara —Turkey's home textiles exports grew bigger in scale and strength last year, increasing by 17 percent to more than $2.5 billion.

The top 10 exporters in the home textiles industry achieved a total export volume worth more than $860 million, 44 percent higher than the previous year. The companies forming the list, generally, showed a good performance in 2004 despite the weak dollar, rising raw material costs and stepped up competition from China.

Zorlu Linen, whose exports to the United States rose by 20 percent last year, sits atop the heap of Turkey's largest home textiles retailers.

Zorlu, a supplier of curtain, bed spreads, bed covers, and towels, has signed an exclusive agreement with famous Italian Benetton Group to produce and market Sisley-branded home textiles products worldwide. With this agreement, Zorlu will produce and sell Sisley branded home textiles products in 850 stores worldwide.

Number two Menderes Textile increased its U.S. volume 12 percent in 2004. The supplier of bed spreads, quilt/duvet covers, upholstery and ready-made curtains, is seeking out low-cost investment areas to better compete with China. In the first stage, the company will build a yarn and weaving facility in Uzbekistan for $40 million. It is also planning to invest in Kyrgyzstan. In addition, Menderes plans to relocate its factory in Bulgaria.

Total export volume among the Top 10 rose to $860 million in 2004, a 44 percent increase. But two of the three manufacturers with the largest increases in total export actually racheted back their export volume to the United States.

Only Evteksan, which is an export-oriented foreign trade company set up by some 50 manufacturers, grew total exports and U.S. exports at a triple-digit rate. The company's U.S. exports rose from $6 million in 2003 to $30 million last year.

The main objectives of the company are to offer better import and export opportunities to its constituent members, as well as to strengthen the sector and improve its negotiating power. Evteksan intends to organize home textiles fairs in 2005 to promote the power of the industry. And it wants to more than double total exports this year to reach $250 million.

Baydemirler, the leading curtain and voile supplier, and Hursan Towel both shrank their U.S. business last year, by 18 percent and 11 percent, respectively.

However, Baydemirler plans to take a more aggressive approach to the U.S. market. The company, which owns the Brilliant brand, plans to open an office in New York and is investing in new technologies to differentiate its products.

Declines in U.S. business also occurred last year for Kucukcalik and Ozdilek — a situation made worse by the falling dollar.

Kucukcalik, a manufacturer of curtains, voile and bedding products, is looking increasingly toward Europe. The company has acquired French Des Staff Company, a well-known European brand that also operates five large stores on the continent. The company has recently set up a large production plant in Turkmenistan to grow its export business.

Towel and bathrobe manufacturer Ozdilek plans to branch into bedding products this year and is looking at Russia for new market growth.

TOP MANUFACTURERS: TURKEY

Company Name 2004 Sales* (millions) % Export to U.S.
*Sales are home textiles only. Source: HTT research
1. Zorlu Linen $270 44%
Signed an exclusive agreement with Italian Benetton Group to produce and market Sisley home textiles worldwide.
2. Menderes Textile 175 30
Lowering costs to compete against China by building a yarn and weaving factory in Uzbekistan and relocating a plant in Bulgaria. Also plans to invest in Kyrgyzstan.
3. Kucukcalik 155 20
Recently opened a large production facility in Turkmenistan to support growth. Acquired French Des Staff Company, a European brand that also operates five stores around Europe.
4. Ozdilek 150 20
Investing in bed linen production this year; expansion plans for core towel business aim toward greater market share in Russia.
5. Evteksan 120 25
Representing more than 50 small textiles companies in Turkey, the foreign trade company wants to double export volume in 2005.
6. Korteks Curtain 110 44
Planning to continue with steady build-up of export business by adding about $5 million in export sales in 2005.
7. Ozanteks 80 N/A
Engaging in only a limited amount of export to the United States. Not planning a significant change in U.S. business.
8. Kucuker 70 60
Targeting a 15 percent increase in total exports this year.
9. Baydemirler 60 10
Planning to open a New York office and invest in new technologies to propel its voile, embroidery and tulle curtain business.
10. Hursan Towel 38 2
Aiming to increase exports this year — but not necessarily to the United States, a market that accounted for 11 percent less business year-over-year in 2004.


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