Imports, exports set marks

Week of March 5, 2001

Trade Data

WASHINGTON, DC — According to data released Feb. 21 by the U.S. Department of Commerce and disseminated by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), U.S. textile and apparel imports for the year 2000 increased 14.8 percent over 1999.

Measured in square meter equivalents (sme), imports totaled record levels of 32.8 billion sme for the year.

In 2000, textile imports increased 16 percent over 1999 to reach 16.8 billion sme, while apparel imports rose 13.7 percent to 16 billion sme.

U.S. exports of textiles and apparel, measured in dollars, also increased to record levels during 2000.

Textile exports of $10.5 billion were 14 percent greater than during 1999; apparel exports — which consist largely of cut fabric pieces sent abroad for assembly and return to the United States — of $8.2 billion rose 2.7 percent above 1999 levels.

Textile and apparel imports during December 2000 registered the first monthly decline in imports in 4 1/2 years, with a 0.2 percent decrease.

WELLFORD, SC — Carl P. Lehner, chief executive officer of Leigh Fibers, Inc., and his wife Sandra dance on the company’s roof to celebrate the company’s reaching 2 million work hours without a lost-time accident. Lehner had promised his 300 employees three years earlier that he would dance on the roof for them if they reached this milestone. The company, a textile waste recycler, posted a poor safety record during its first 30 years at this location, but Lehner was determined to change this trend. Find out how he and his employees did that on page 5.

“This is a good news/bad news situation for our industry,” said ATMI President Roger W. Chastain, Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. “Of course, we’re grateful that December’s imports did not increase at the double-digit rates they did throughout the year, but this negligible decrease in December clearly points to a very sluggish retail environment for textile and apparel products, and that is not good news for anybody, least of all domestic manufacturers.”

Chastain also called the trade data for all of 2000 a good news/bad news situation.

“Although textile and apparel imports continued their double-digit growth to record levels, textile and apparel exports have also grown to record levels,” he said. “Also, keep in mind that apparel imports from Mexico, the United States’ leading foreign supplier, and from the Caribbean region contain mostly U.S. fabric and yarn.”

Apparel imports from Mexico, the United States’ single largest source of imported apparel, increased 9.5 percent during 2000, while apparel imports from Canada, the United States’ 18th largest foreign supplier, rose 11.8 percent.

This left the rest of the world with a 14.6 percent year-to-year increase.

STN Headliners

Week of March 5, 2001

In this week's edition:

Springs’ buyout bid challenged

That’s the message a Florida investment firm and a company shareholder sent Springs Industries, Inc. last week by suing the company and its directors, claiming that a proposed buyout by the founding family undervalues the company.

Crandon Capital Partners, filing a lawsuit in Rock Hill, SC, said that the proposal of $44 a share doesn’t maximize stockholder value. Kevin Lewis, a Michigan resident and shareholder of Springs’ Class A common shares, also sued.

The offer was made by the Close family and investment company Heartland Industries Partners. Springs’ board had created a special committee composed of all the independent directors of Springs to consider the proposal.

After trading in the $25-$35 range for three months, Springs’ stock soared after the buyout proposal on Feb. 20. The stock has traded as high as $51 a share in May and closed last Monday at $45.20.

Dan River, Zaga terminate JVs in Mexico

DANVILLE, VA — Dan River, Inc., based here, and Grupo Industrial Zaga of Mexico City, Mexico, have announced that their joint ventures for the manufacture of textiles and apparel in Mexico have been terminated by mutual agreement, due to Dan River’s decision not to relocate a portion of its textile operations to Mexico.

As a result, Zadar, S. de R.L. de C.V., now an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Dan River Inc., will own and operate a shirt manufacturing plant the parties have constructed in Jilotepec, State of Mexico.

Sara Lee to sell unit in Australia

CHICAGO — Sara Lee Corporation announced last week that it has signed an agreement to sell its Australia-based apparel operations to Pacific Dunlop for $31.5 million.

Sara Lee Apparel Australasia manufactures, distributes and markets commercial workwear, casual clothing, hosiery and intimate apparel in Australia and New Zealand.

Sara Lee Apparel Australasia was included in an announcement Sara Lee made last month addressing its intent to divest eight non-core businesses.

Pacific Dunlop’s activities include clothing, sporting goods, latex products and tires. As part of the sale, Sara Lee has entered into licensing agreements with Pacific Dunlop for Sara Lee’s global brands Hanes, Playtex and Wonderbra. Pacific Dunlop will own the local Australian and New Zealand brands, which include Kayser, Razzamatazz, Formfit, King Gee and Stubbies.

“The divestiture of Sara Lee Apparel Australasia is consistent with the reshaping of our business portfolio announced last year,” said C. Steven McMillan, president and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corporation. “Sara Lee Apparel Australasia generates nearly half of its annual sales from workwear and casual clothing, which we no longer consider core categories for our company.”

In May of last year, Sara Lee Corporation announced a major reshaping of its business portfolio to strengthen the company in the branded consumer packaged goods sector.

The company said it intends to narrow its business portfolio to focus on a smaller number of business segments — food and beverage, intimates and underwear and household products. By doing so, Sara Lee said it will become a more competitive company with a focused vision and increased resources to apply toward the future growth of its remaining positions.

Great American completes deal for Ridgeview

BURLINGTON, NC — Great American Knitting Mills (GAKM) announced February 23 that it has completed the previously announced asset purchase of hosiery maker Ridgeview, Inc.

For GAKM, the components of the deal include the purchase of certain inventory, intangible assets and intellectual properties.

To guarantee uninterrupted service to Ridgeview’s customers, GAKM said it will continue to operate certain Ridgeview facilities for a period of time. During this time, a transition team established by GAKM will manage the consolidation of manufacturing, administrative, customer service and distribution operations into GAKM’s systems.

Hugh Gaither will resign as CEO of Ridgeview, but will be a member of the transition team.

Wellman improves in 2000

SHREWSBURY, NJ — Wellman, Inc., which manufactures polyester products, enjoyed higher earnings for the fourth quarter and the year.

For the increased earnings, the company cited higher PET resins volume, improved margins in the worldwide resins businesses and continued improved results from the company’s European fibers business, which were partially offset by lower profitability in the company’s domestic fibers business.

“Earnings improved in 2000 primarily as a result of improvements in Wellman’s PET resins business, particularly in North America,” said Tom Duff, chairman and CEO said. “The domestic fibers business continues to be negatively impacted by low demand, primarily resulting from imports through- out the textile chain, and the impact of a slowing economy.”