Material World / Technology Solutions

March 14, 2005

Sewn products industry, suppliers hit Miami

An official event of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), Material World returns to the Miami Beach Convention Center March 16-18 with a comprehensive roster of educational programs, exhibits and networking events.

From trend tracking to legislative issues to commerce, the comprehensive Material World educational program will provide attendees with the tools they need to prepare for changing technologies, evolving trends and other industry developments for 2005 and beyond.

In addition, Technology Solutions, a conference and exposition for information technology enabling the sewn products industries, will run concurrently with Material World and also feature a number of tracks offering a schedule of case studies and a variety of other programs providing the latest in-depth information on today’s most important issues and opportunities.

To kick off the Material World educational programs, the AAFA will host a headliner breakfast event on the opening day of the show, March 16. The 2005 AAFA Executive Sourcing Summit will bring together a panel of top industry leaders from companies like Nine West, Perry Ellis International and Phillips-Van Heusen.

This C-level forum will feature a range of topics including customs and security challenges, coping with deflationary trends, port capacity issues, logistics strategies, rising oil costs, speed to market and supply chain challenges.

In addition, the AAFA & American Apparel Producers Network (AAPN) will co-host Regional Sourcing: the Producers Perspective, a breakfast event on March 17. This presentation will bring together a panel of contractors and full-package providers from around the globe to discuss sourcing and post-quota removal.

Complementary events

In an effort to increase crossover buying and selling opportunities for sewn products industry exhibitors and attendees, Material World also will introduce a Home Furnishings section.

Offering a variety of fabric, leather, trim and service resources for home furnishings industry members, this section complements Material World’s extensive selection of apparel resources and helps establish it as the one-stop global resource for sourcing, fabric, trim and trends.

Material World plans to develop this Home Furnishings section featuring a variety of mills, converters, leather and trimming manufacturers showcasing product in a wide variety of categories, including cottons, chenille, chintzes, velvets, faux fabrics, flocks, jacquards, leather, sheeting, tapestries and more.

Target attendees for the Home Furnishings section include upholstery manufacturers, retailers, interior designers, jobbers and over-the-counter businesses.

Meanwhile, Technology Solutions will give attendees the chance to find solutions from the industry’s leading innovators.

Through the resources of the AAFA and other leading organizations such as the American Apparel Producers Network (AAPN) and the National Textile Association (NTA), Technology Solutions offers a collaborative approach across the supply chain – from fabric to production to distribution to retail – to provide industry members with the products and information needed to gear up for changing technologies and other developments.

Milliken & Co. to exhibit ‘smart’ fabric technologies

SPARTANBURG, SC — Milliken & Company will showcase several of its latest fabric technologies at this week’s Material World trade show.

Among products highlighted will be StainSmart®, VisaEndurance® and Ensist®.

Milliken’s StainSmart provides the “best of both worlds” in a patent-pending stain-protection technology, the company said. The “repel” function allows water-based spills to bead up and be wiped off, thereby preventing most stains, Milliken claimed.

The “release” function works on tough, ground-in stains that penetrate fabric, such as corn oil or salad dressing, by allowing these stains to wash out during normal laundering, according to the manufacturer.

VisaEndurance is a smart fabric from Milliken that combines an effective, long-lasting odor control technology with moisture management, the firm said, in a variety of performance apparel fabrics. The comfortable and durable fabric, made from microfiber polyester in several fabric weights and stitch patterns, is used in a wide range of items, Milliken & Co. said.

Ensist allows the creation of durable logos, stripes and patterns on polyester and poly/cotton woven fabrics, the maker said. Ensist’s design capability is much more flexible than traditional yarn dyeing and provides superior color durability compared to traditional printing methods, Milliken added.

Jimtex to showcase yarns

PHILADELPHIA — At Material World, textile professionals in the hosiery, apparel and upholstery markets will have the opportunity to explore Jimtex’s low-priced cotton blend yarns, the company said.

Jimtex, based in Lincolnton, GA, will exhibit with the goal of “showing its competitive advantage over European and Asian alternatives,” it said.

Jimtex will display the company’s bleached white and colored cotton/polyester yarns, as well as more than 50 shades of stock colors in cotton/acrylic blends. The company will also display an array of product samples: sock, blanket, towel and apparel items made from its yarns both in the U.S. and Central America.

Also contributing to Jimtex’s notable price advantage, the company said, is the fact that its yarns are made using regenerated cotton fiber, which comes from recycling pre-consumer cotton knit cuttings.

Textile News Index


Bankrupt home textiles producer

March 14, 2005

Ross, group bid for WestPoint Stevens

WEST POINT, GA — Turnaround specialist Wilbur Ross, who made the bold move into the textile industry in 2003, is looking to expand his fiefdom in that manufacturing sector.

The New York financier’s investment firm, WL Ross & Co. LLC, announced March 1 that it and an investor group has entered into a definitive agreement for the acquisition of all assets of bankrupt home textiles manufacturer WestPoint Stevens, Inc.

Wilbur Ross

The investor group consists of WL Ross & Co. and holders of a majority of WestPoint Stevens senior credit facility, including Contrarian Capital Management and CP Capital Investments.

Ross bought bankrupt Burlington Industries for $614 million in December 2003, before three months later picking up Cone Mills Corp. out of bankruptcy court for $87.2 million.

In August, the two companies were merged to form International Textile Group, Inc. (ITG).

The agreement, subject to bankruptcy court approval, calls for a closing no later than July 31 and a breakup fee of $5 million in certain circumstances if a sale to a higher bidder is consummated. If any qualified, competing bids are received by the bidding deadline to be established by the court, an auction will be held involving the competing bidders, according to WL Ross & Co.

As part of the agreement, equity in the new company will be distributed to holders of outstanding senior secured debt, and the new company will conduct a rights offering, underwritten by the investor group, to raise $207.5 million of equity capital.

The new company will repay WestPoint Stevens’ debtor in possession loan, satisfy certain administrative claims and assume WestPoint Stevens’ ordinary course payables and certain other post-petition liabilities, including bankruptcy emergence costs.

“We look forward to helping management supplement WestPoint Stevens&Mac226; highly efficient domestic manufacturing with international joint ventures to create a truly global home fashions company,” said Ross, who will serve as chairman of the new company.

As much of the industry, WestPoint Stevens has been decimated by low-cost imports in recent years. In January, the company said it would eliminate 2,465 jobs and close facilities in Burlington, NC; Clemson, SC; Middletown, IN; and Drakes Branch, VA.

WestPoint, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2003, will employ about 9,700 people when the latest cuts become final.

“This is a major step toward the successful reorganization of our company on a debt-free basis,” said M. L. “Chip” Fontenot, WestPoint Stevens’ president and CEO. “We are delighted that such a knowledgeable textile executive as Mr. Ross shares our confidence in our future outlook.”

WL Ross & Co. manages private equity funds and has led the acquisition or re-emergence from chapter 11 reorganization proceedings of a number of steel, coal, textile and other companies.

The recapitalized WestPoint Stevens company is expected to operate on a standalone basis after the closing, WL Ross said.

Textile News Index


Post-quotas

March 14, 2005

China exports surge; U.S. textile job losses mount

WASHINGTON, DC — Exports of major apparel products from China into the U.S. market increased by an average of 546 percent in January 2005 over January 2004, according to China Customs data, as worldwide global trade quotas were eliminated Jan. 1.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported March 4 that, after seasonal adjustments, another 5,600 textile and apparel employees lost their jobs in the 28 days of February — a loss of 200 jobs per day.

Furthermore, the BLS revised down the number of jobs in the industry for both December and January, leaving the total number of jobs remaining in the industry at 673,400. This figure is 10,000 fewer jobs than the BLS previously reported for January.

Related to China export data, the largest increases were in cotton knit shirts and trousers, which were up 1,836 percent and 1,332 percent. China shipped nearly 27 million cotton trousers last month, up from 1.9 million in January 2004, when China was still under quota control.

China also shipped 18 million cotton knit shirts in January, compared to 941 thousand knit shirts in Jan. 2004. In the two categories, China shipped more than one year’s trade in one month’s time.

China’s surge comes in eight product groups that represent the major employment and production sectors of the U.S. yarn and fabric industry. The U.S. industry has asked the U.S. government to initiate safeguard actions against China in these categories in order to prevent large job losses.

Threat-based safeguard petitions filed by the industry last year have been stalled by a legal challenge.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) renewed its call for the U.S. to move quickly to self-initiate safeguard actions.

“The U.S. government is now the only entity that can act quickly enough to prevent a wave of plant closings and job losses in the U.S. textile and apparel sector,” said Cass Johnson, president of NCTO. “A long, drawn-out safeguard petition process will only ensure that thousands of U.S. textile workers will lose their jobs to China’s unfair and predatory trading practices.”

The surge is fueled by China’s ability to manipulate and control its pricing structure in textile and apparel products, Johnson added.

According to China export figures, January prices for cotton knit shirts from China were down 45 percent and cotton trousers were down 28 percent. The average price decline in January for all the safeguard categories was 25 percent.

According to United Nations trade data, China has taken over textile and apparel markets in virtually every instance where quota restraints were allowed to lapse.

With the job losses reported in January, the U.S. textile and apparel sector has lost 373,800 jobs since January 2001. That figure represents a loss of 35.7 percent of the domestic textile and apparel sector. The textile portion of the industry also sharply reduced the number of hours paid for the average worker in February.

Still, the average non-supervisory textile mill employee’s weekly wages in February were 210 percent higher than the average wage of comparable workers in the leisure/hospitality industry.

“Today’s severe job loss report, including revisions, suggests that the U.S. textile and apparel industry employment is experiencing a downturn associated with removal of quotas at the beginning of this year,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director, American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition.

“Unless strong emergency safeguard measures are taken soon and the CAFTA is defeated, AMTAC expects that the loss of textile and apparel industry production and jobs will accelerate in the coming months,” he added.

Textile News Index


Lawmakers question Customs funding

March 14, 2005

Dole, Hayes seek answers on Customs

WASHINGTON, DC — A pair of elected officials from North Carolina have written letters to U.S. government officials expressing concern that U.S. Customs officials have not been hired to stop textile transshipments, as authorized in appropriations bills.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) on March 4 announced that she has contacted the heads of the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce and asked for an explanation as to why funding designated to stop illegal textile smuggling is not being used as intended.

Meanwhile, Congressman Robin Hayes (R-NC), on March 8 released his correspondence with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol on the lack of enforcement of textile transshipments.

Dole also called for the expedited release of import trade data.

In her letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Dole called for the department to explain why money Congress designated for new Customs agents specifically assigned to keep out illegal textile transshipments is not being used by U.S. Customs for that purpose.

During the past two years, Dole has helped secure congressional funding for the hiring of these agents but has recently learned of textile industry reports that not one new gent had been hired.

“Funding for these positions was provided in the FY2004 and FY2005 Homeland Security appropriations bills,” Dole wrote. “There is much concern that Customs personnel in the textile enforcement division, previously responsible for quota data entry and monitoring, may have been simply redeployed to other divisions within Customs now that quotas have been removed against China, rather than trained as enforcement agents.”

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Dole urged the department to expedite the release of import trade data so that the China safeguard mechanism can be used effectively. Under the safeguards, China has agreed not to create harmful surges of textiles into the United States.

Hayes on Dec. 17 wrote U.S. Customs about $9.5 million in funding authorized in the Trade Act of 2002 for the hiring of 72 new U.S. Customs personnel designated to enforce the textile provisions of international trade agreements. Hayes worked to ensure continued funding of these agents in FY2004 and FY2005 to protect our domestic textile industry from surging illegal imports, which have been damaging to the textile industry.

Hayes contacted U.S. Customs to follow up on reports that the positions had not been filled as Congress stipulated.

“I’m frustrated by the lack of response from U.S. Customs regarding the hiring of these agents,” Hayes said in a statement.

Textile News Index


Fiber producer

March 14, 2005

Gastonia, NC, to become RadiciSpandex's primary HQ

GASTONIA, NC — RadiciSpandex’s office, manufacturing and distribution complex here will soon become the company’s primary headquarters as the Radici Group consolidates vital elements of its U.S. operations under one roof.

The sprawling compound here, which overlooks Interstate 85 just west of Charlotte, is already home to the company’s mid- to heavy-denier spandex fiber spinning operation, fine denier warp finishing, several corporate functions and its global distribution warehouse.

With this consolidation, all corporate functions will move to the 3145 Northwest Boulevard address, thus closing the small office RadiciSpandex has maintained at 125 Hartwell Street in Fall River, MA, since 2001.

“This move marks the end of an era and our formal association with Fall River, with which this company has deep historic ties. It’s a logical next step in our continued transformation of the company to be what it has to be to compete in this market,” said Rob Rebello, chief executive officer.

“This is also a conscious move on the part of our parent Group to identify itself as a cohesive U.S. concern,” he added.

RadiciSpandex is also the official sales agent for RadiciNylon (Type 6 and 6.6) and RadiGreen (synthetic turf fibers) in the United States and those sales are coordinated through the Gastonia office.

A vital component of the consolidation involves the restructuring of the sales, marketing, logistics, planning and technical customer service functions of the company into one functional element, characterized as Technical Sales.

Preston Kelly, who has held the position of global product manager for Fashion Applications for several years, has been promoted to the position of director of Commercial Operations. He will head the new sales, logistics and technical services group. He will be assisted by Marty Moran, who has been promoted to the position of sales manager for the company.

“On the heels of the many product and manufacturing systems improvements already under way here in Gastonia, this further consolidation of functions and different way of looking at how we sell and service our markets is going to create a real powerhouse for effective market significance,” Rebello said. “Gastonia will see the addition of an entire staff of accounting, planning and customer services jobs in the community. All of these measures are aimed at making us the preferred spandex supplier in the western hemisphere.”

In conjunction with the consolidation, the Gastonia fiber spinning operation will undergo a temporary shutdown of operations in order to install new spinning equipment and to conduct other necessary equipment related projects. The new production machinery adapts technology from Radici’s state-of-the-art Tuscaloosa, AL, spinning plant and upgrades production to meet demand for new mid- to heavy-denier products recently developed for production in Gastonia.

Gastonia spandex fiber production focuses on products going into narrow elastic fabrics, hosiery, specialty medical textiles and personal care disposables, such as baby diapers. The Gastonia spandex warping operation provides high-quality fine denier spandex products for use in intimate apparel, athletic-wear and swimsuits.

Textile News Index


Fiber notes

March 14, 2005

Unifi signs contracts to sell Ireland plant

GREENSBORO, NC — Unifi, Inc. announced that it has entered into three separate contracts that provide for the sale of substantially all of the plant, property and equipment associated with the company’s European manufacturing operations, which ceased Oct. 31.

The gross proceeds, before taxes, on the combined contracts is about $37 million. “The favorable terms and timing of these contracts allow Unifi to aggressively pursue our growth plans in Asia without incurring additional debt,” said Brian Parke, chairman and CEO.

Performance Fibers to expand in China

COLONIAL HEIGHTS, VA — Performance Fibers, a leading global supplier of industrial fibers, announced that it will build a second polyester fiber and fabric plant in Kaiping to meet demand from China’s growing automotive market.

The new plant will again double the company’s dimensionally stable polyester capacity in China. This is the company’s second expansion at the Kaiping facility in two years, having doubled capacity of the original plant with the addition of new production lines in early 2005.

The new plant will produce and convert the latest generations of dimensionally stable polyester fibers for tire reinforcement, automotive and other industrial and consumer uses.

Suppliers announce price increases

Honeywell announced a 5 percent price increase over the current price of all automotive BCF carpet fiber products from Honeywell Nylon LLC, effective with shipments April 4.

Separately, Honeywell announced a 7 percent price increase over the current price of all residential and commercial carpet fiber products, including staple, fiber-grade resins, and BCF from Honeywell Nylon LLC, effective with shipments April 1.

Wellman, Inc. announced that, effective with April 3 shipments, it will increase the price of all polyester staple fiber products by 3 cents per pound. This increase will be implemented on all shipments to the apparel, home furnishings, nonwovens, industrial and fiberfill markets.

DAK Americas has begun notifying its polyester staple customers that all of its staple fiber products sold to home furnishings, apparel, industrial and fiberfill markets will be subject to a 3 cents per pound price increase, effective with shipments beginning April 1.

Effective April 1, the Dow Latex business is increasing the prices of all latex products sold into the carpet industry by 5 cents per dry pound in the United States and Canada.

Effective April 1, or as contracts allow, BASF will raise prices in the U.S. and Canada on all acrylic and styrene-acrylic latex products supplied to the adhesives, architectural coatings, construction and nonwovens industries by 6 cents per wet pound.

BASF also said it will raise prices in the U.S. and Canada on all carboxylated styrene-butadiene latex products supplied to the adhesives, architectural coatings, carpet, construction and nonwovens industries by 5 cents per dry pound.

Textile News Index


Fabric innovation company

March 14, 2005

Nano-Tex gets $35 million backing from investors

EMERYVILLE, CA — Nano-Tex, a fabric innovation company providing textile enhancements to the apparel and interior furnishing markets, announced March 8 that it has raised $35 million from current and new investors.

Nano-Tex said it will use the new funding to drive product development, geographic expansion and marketing.

New investors include venture firm Norwest Venture Partners and scientific research organization Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Previous investors participating in the Series-A round include WL Ross & Co. LLC, who also led the new round, Masters Capital and Firelake Capital Management.

Nano-Tex, the first company to bring nanotechnology to the textile industry, has licensed more than 80 textile mills worldwide to use its treatments in products sold by more than 100 apparel and interior furnishing brands. The company’s patented technology delivers superior durability and performance without compromising the look, feel or comfort of fabric, a unique benefit which has driven brand and consumer adoption of Nano-Tex products, the company said.

“Nano-Tex is playing a significant role in performance-enhanced garments, the fastest growing segment of the apparel market,” said Wilbur L. Ross, chairman of WL Ross & Co. “We believe that with further research, development and global expansion, Nano-Tex will be the catalyst for innovation in the textile industry at large, providing a valuable ingredient for differentiation and market growth.”

Separately, the company said it has introduced the industry’s first permanent anti-static treatment for synthetic fabrics. The company also rolled out what it claims is the market’s best-performing stain repel-and-release treatment and a moisture-wicking product custom-designed for wrinkle-free cotton garments.

Textile News Index


Briefs

March 14, 2005

Honeywell Nylon announces winners

DALTON, GA — Honeywell Nylon announced the winners of its Anso® Nylon Surfaces 2005 Co-op Drawing during Surfaces in Las Vegas.

Four carpet dealerships were chosen at random during the exhibition, with three daily prize winners receiving $1,000 in Anso Advantage Account (AAA) co-op dollars. One grand prize winner chosen Friday received $5,000 AAA co-op dollars.

In order to be eligible for the daily drawing, the four winners, all in attendance at Surfaces 2005, were required to have met specific sales qualifications.

The $5,000 grand prize winner is Miami Carpet and Tile, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

The three $1,000 winners are: Metro Carpet Company, Fountain Hills, AZ; Bixby Knolls Carpet, Long Beach, CA; and Avalon Carpet, Manahawkin, NJ.

FIT to raise funds through golf outing

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) will hold the Inaugural Fashion Institute of Technology Golf Classic on Monday, May 2 at the Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY.

Site of the 1997 Walker Cup, Quaker Ridge Golf Club is one of the premier golf clubs in Westchester County and one of the top 25 in the U.S.

Sponsored by The Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries (EFFI), the industry support body of FIT, the event will benefit the college’s Educational Development Fund. This fund is used to help FIT meet priority needs, including scholarships and financial aid, curriculum development, and student services. The inaugural charity golf classic celebrates FIT’s 60th anniversary.

The fee per person is $1,250 ($5,000 per foursome) and includes 18 holes of golf, a caddy and cart, brunch, refreshments on course, and a cocktail reception. Tee sponsorships are available, starting at $2,500.

To play or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, contact John Kahl, executive director, EFFI, at 212-217-8868 or by e-mail at patricia_amato@fitnyc.edu.

Top designer to judge ‘Stretch’ competition

FALL RIVER, MA — RadiciSpandex Corp. announced that three-time Coty Award-winning designer Stan Herman will serve as the Designer Judge and Honoree for the “Stretch to the Future” Design Scholarship Competition.

The contest will take place for the first time at the Pratt Institute college of art and design in New York City.

The judging will determine the winners of three scholarships from RadiciSpandex Corp.

Textile News Index


On the Move

March 14, 2005

L.P. Batson, affiliate supplements staffs

GREENVILLE, SC — Louis P. Batson Company has hired Terry Vogt to strengthen the company’s sales presence in the Southeast.

Previously, Vogt worked for Seigling America, Inc., where he called on the textile industry throughout the Southeast.

Based in Stone Mountain, GA, Vogt will cover all of Alabama and Tennessee, Southern Georgia and Eastern Mississippi.

He will market Batson’s extensive line of industrial machinery accessories, spare parts and plant supplies including roll covering, anti-static equipment, slitters and knives, safety core chucks, spreader rolls, Greased Lightning® cleaning products and the Segway HT™ Human Transporter.

Batson Group, Inc., an affiliate of Louis P. Batson Company, announced the hiring of Michael Tobiasz to sell its lines of textile equipment throughout Canada, as well as Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.

As the area sales manager in this territory, Tobiasz will represent some of the world’s leading textile machinery builders. With 25 years of sales and marketing experience to the Canadian textile market, he has an extensive background in equipment used for yarn preparation, spinning, dyeing and finishing, small and large diameter knitting, weaving, warping, nonwovens and packaging.

Before joining Batson, Tobiasz owned and managed Advantech Machinery Inc. Prior to 2003, he co-owned IMTEX Machinery, Ltd. with his father.

Tobiasz has a degree in economics and political science from Marianopolis College, Montreal, Canada.

Batson Group, Inc. also has rehired Patrick Maness as a customer service representative. Maness will focus on spare parts sales and service with a primary focus on SMIT Textile and warp tying equipment.

During his first term of employment, Maness worked for Batson’s past affiliate, Batson Yarn and Fabrics, Inc., as a Knotex service technician.

Before joining Batson the first time, Maness worked for Springs Industries in Lyman, SC, for more than 16 years, where he served as a Sulzer technician.

Upon leaving Batson two years ago, he rejoined Springs Industries as a Tsudakoma technician at the Wamsutta Plant in Lyman, SC.

Carolina Belting appoints president

TAYLORS, SC — Robert Hammersla has been appointed president of Carolina Belting Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alta Vista Capital Partners.

Hammersla began his career with Milliken & Co., Spartanburg, SC. Most recently, he was president of Southern Weaving Co., Greenville, SC.

He is a graduate of Newberry College.

Royal Park Uniforms promotes Parker

PROSPECT HILL, NC — Royal Park Uniforms, a maker of school uniforms, has promoted Barbara Parker to vice president of operations.

She has been with the company since June 2000, working in project management, engineering and general plant management. In her new role, she will be responsible for all divisions at Royal Park’s location here, including Operations and Domestic Contractors.

The company also announced that Chuck Grady has joined the company as planner and industrial engineer.

Textile News Index


Mill & Fiscal Notes

March 14, 2005

Quaker announces loss, layoffs

FALL RIVER, MA — Quaker Fabric Corp., reporting a $1.9 million loss in the fourth quarter, announced Feb. 22 that it is eliminating 275 factory jobs, or 11 percent of its 2,500 employees.

The layoffs will affect 11 plants here and in other Massachusetts towns of Somerset and Brockton. The company cut 100 jobs last year.

The company has been hurt by intense competition in the domestic market, including market share gains from furniture coverings, particularly leather and faux suede coming into the U.S. from Asia, Quaker said.

The popularity of those products at the consumer level has reduced the size of the market for the woven plain and Jacquard fabrics Quaker makes, the company added.

“We took aggressive action during the second half of the year to reduce our operating costs going forward,” said Larry Liebenow, Quaker’s president and chief executive officer. “These actions included staffing reductions intended to both reduce overhead and bring our production rates in line with demand, as well as the execution of a lease on an additional 540,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehousing space in Fall River that will allow us to consolidate operations at four of the facilities we are currently leasing under a single roof.”

Cost-cutting measures are intended to further reduce Quaker’s annual fixed operating costs by about $6 million, Liebenow said.

The company lost 11 cents per share in the quarter on sales of $68 million. For the same period a year ago, Quaker made $3.3 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, on $80.5 million in revenues.

For the year, the company lost $2 million, or 12 cents per share, on sales of $289.1 million, from a gain of $7.9 million, or 47 cents per share, on sales of $325 million in fiscal 2003.

A&E completes deal for Ludlow Textiles

CHARLOTTE, NC — Ruddick Corporation announced March 7, pursuant to its previous announcement, that its sewing thread subsidiary, American & Efird, Inc. (A&E), has completed the acquisition of certain assets of the thread and specialty yarn business of Ludlow Textiles Company, Inc.

Ludlow, with sales of about $13 million in 2004, has been providing quality thread and specialty yarn products since 1868. Ludlow manufactures a variety of threads, yarns, cords, twines and tapes for mainly non-apparel industries. Over the next 12 months, A&E said it intends to transition the Ludlow manufacturing into A&E’s existing facilities in North Carolina.

A&E manufactures and distributes sewing thread for worldwide industrial and consumer markets, with sales of $296 million in fiscal 2004.

“Our No. 1 priority is to support the many Ludlow customers that we will gain as a result of this transaction,” said Fred A. Jackson, A&E president. “We will continue to offer the products they are currently buying and provide the customer services they require.”

As a result of the sale, Ludlow will close its industrial twine-and-thread mill in Ludlow, MA, putting 104 people out of work.

Holt Hosiery Mills plans to close NC sewing plant

BURLINGTON, NC — Holt Hosiery Mills plans to close its sewing plant in Penderlea, NC, on March 31, putting 62 people out of work.

The company will continue to operate its plant here.

Sales up, earnings down at Russell Corporation

ATLANTA — Russell Corporation earned $10.3 million, or 31 cents per diluted share, on sales of $334 million in the fourth quarter.

Revenues represent a 10.5 percent increase over the same period a year ago. Earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2003 were $14.5 million, or 44 cents per diluted share.

For the year, sales increased $112 million to $1.298 billion, a 9.4 percent increase over the prior year’s sales of $1.186 billion. Net income for the year was $47.9 million, or $1.46 per share, within the range of previous guidance.

Polymer Group returns to profitability in 4Q

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC — Polymer Group, Inc. made $8.4 million in the fourth quarter, marking a return to profitability. Sales increased 13.3 percent to $223.5 million, the highest level achieved in over four years.

For the year, sales grew 8.6 percent to $844.7 million, driven primarily by volume growth in Latin America from new capacity installations and from product introductions and stronger base volumes in North America.

Net income for the year was $4.7 million.

Textile News Index


Bush nominees

March 14, 2005

Gant, Liebenow nominated for trade panel

WASHINGTON, DC — Two textile industry representatives have been nominated by President Bush to serve on the 25-member Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Allen Gant Jr., president and CEO of Glen Raven, Inc., Glen Raven, NC, and Larry A. Liebenow, president and CEO of Quaker Fabric Corp., Fall River, MA, have been nominated for two-year terms.

Gant also serves as chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO). Liebenow is the former chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Among others named to the panel were Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive officer of the National Retail Federation, and Edward Emma, president and chief operating officer of Jockey International.

The committee provides the U.S. Trade Representative with policy advice on trade agreements, the operation of trade agreements entered into and other matters arising in connection with trade policy.

Textile News Index


Pickin' Cotton

March 14, 2005

WTO panel ruling disappoints industry

By Odyll Santos

Cotton industry members were disappointed at the decision earlier this month by a World Trade organization appellate panel regarding Brazil’s challenge of U.S. cotton subsidies.

“There were several aspects of the panel’s findings that we believe are inconsistent with the intent of the Agriculture Agreement and are inconsistent with long-standing interpretations of that agreement,” said National Cotton Council Chairman Woods Eastland.

The WTO’s Appellate Body examined a decision by an earlier WTO panel regarding key elements of U.S. agricultural policy, such as the Step 2 cotton program, various farm payments and the export credit guarantee program. It ruled in favor of Brazil on all key points of Brazil’s challenge of U.S. cotton subsidies.

The Appellate Body found that the U.S. had exceeded its negotiated limit on cotton subsidies. Because of that, it had lost protection under the so-called “peace clause,” which recommends that countries practice reasonable restraint in challenging agricultural subsidies. In addition, the panel found that U.S. subsidies from 1999 to 2002, totaling $12.5 billion, had harmed Brazilian producers by keeping world cotton prices depressed.

Among the key decisions, the Appellate Body agreed with the earlier panel that the Step 2 program violates WTO rules, specifically when it pays domestic mills that use U.S. cotton and exporters of U.S. cotton. Step 2, part of the U.S. cotton competitiveness program, pays the difference between the U.S. price and the world price to make U.S. cotton more attractive to foreign buyers. The Appellate Body ruled that these payments acted as an export subsidy.

In addition, the Appellate Body upheld the previous panel’s decision that certain payments supported upland cotton particularly. These payments included direct payments, counter-cyclical payments under 2002 farm law, market loss assistance and production flexibility payments.

Plains Cotton Growers, an organization that works on legislative issues for West Texas producers, noted that independent studies conducted by economic and research organizations, including Texas Tech University, have found that the U.S. cotton program has had no significant impact on the world cotton market.

“These studies show the U.S. would continue to produce cotton in the absence of a program, and that the current program has minimal impact on production while providing stability and helping farmers ride out low price and weather disasters,” said PCG.

With the announced ruling, some in the cotton business have begun to ask when the cotton program will change. The NCC’s Eastland said there will be no immediate change to the program and that the organization will work with congressional members and the Bush administration to formulate an appropriate response to the ruling.

“Nothing in the ruling requires immediate action,” said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, who hails from the cotton-growing state of Georgia. “Although we still believe the cotton program and the Farm Bill conform to our World Trade Organization commitments, I will work closely with my colleagues in the Congress and within the administration to engage the issues raised in the appellate panel.”

Trade observers noted that under WTO rules, the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body must formally adopt the ruling within 30 days. Following this, the U.S. will have 30 days to announce what it plans to do about implementing the ruling. The U.S. also will have to negotiate with Brazil on the deadline for implementation. If neither country comes to an agreement regarding the deadline, a WTO arbitrator will determine the deadline. The ruling gives Brazil and the U.S. 15 months to discuss a settlement, and if within that period, Brazil is not satisfied with the changes to U.S. cotton policy, it can bring its objections to another WTO panel.

Textile News Index


Fabrics producer

March 14, 2005

Minority-owned nonwovens plant to open

CINCINNATI — Amantea Nonwovens, L.L.C. has broken ground for the first minority-owned, nonwoven fabrics manufacturing facility in the United States.

The ceremony took place at TechSolve Business Park here.

Ohio Governor Bob Taft was among speakers at the event, along with City of Cincinnati Vice Mayor Alicia Reece; Kevin Lynch, CEO of Amantea Nonwovens; Sorin Crainic, chief operating officer of Amantea Nonwovens; and Scott Burns, associate director of The Procter & Gamble Co.

Amantea Nonwovens was incorporated in 2003 and is owned by Kevin Lynch, Albis Spa, Ernie Green and Sorin Crainic. The company is building a 77,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in the TechSolve Business Park, which will produce a nonwoven fabric for use in Procter & Gamble’s businesses.

“We deeply appreciate the support of P&G, Albis Spa and Ernie Green, who have provided the foundation we need to be successful as the first U.S. minority-owned nonwoven fabrics company,” Lynch said. “In addition, P&G is to be commended for its continued commitment to minority business suppliers.”

The facility is located in one of the federally designated Empowerment Zone neighborhoods, one of nine in Cincinnati. This program contributes $100 million to the communities over a 10-year year period in an effort to bring public and private partnerships together to attract investment capital for these communities, and stimulate job growth.

Amantea’s business plans call for ongoing production operations that will employ about 30 people, with ongoing sales of $20 million per year. Amantea intends to expand its operations in nonwovens in the next two to three years.

The new manufacturing facility consists of three phases. The first phase was the announcement by Procter & Gamble in July that it signed a $30 million contract involving BBA Fiberweb, with Amantea Nonwovens as the distributor.

The second phase includes the construction of a production plant in here, with Albis Spa, an Italian nonwovens producer and partner of Amantea.

The third phase will involve exploring other commercial and consumer markets for nonwovens and similar products beyond the existing contract with P&G.

Textile News Index


Editorial

March 14, 2005

Should CAFTA menu include poo-poo platter?

By Devin Steele

WORD ASSOCIATION: China? Cheap (as in “labor” and as in “crap”). CAFTA? NAFTA.

Very good. Now, let’s try again: China? Cheats (as in “screws” and as in “you”). CAFTA? Flaw-duh.

Excellent. One more time: China? Cha-ching (as in “cash registers” and as in “not yours.”) CAFTA? China.

Knew you’d get there eventually. That’s because you can’t keep bringing up China and CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) without eventually linking the two. And that’s why many of you in the U.S. textile industry aren’t standing in a drool pool formed from a frothy fervor over the latest, ahem, “free trade” deal.

But for voicing your opposition to the agreement, you continue to be the recipient of some rather-trite name calling. You protectionist you. You no-good isolationist. You obstructionist. Yada yada ... yawn. You’ve heard it all before, especially during this nation’s last Great Trade Debate, when NAFTA was spiced up, sprinkled with parsley and shoved down your throats. (Digression question: Has it passed through your system yet?) Seems all that has entered this country from south of the border lately are immigrants — legal or otherwise. (The bright side: Maybe the clothes they were wearing upon entry were made of U.S. yarns and fabric.) Oh, and much of what’s left here in Textile Country are empty manufacturing complexes that resemble city blocks in Beirut during its war-torn days.

Buying into CAFTA — or, if you prefer, the less-resonant sounding “DR-CAFTA” now that the Dominican Republic has joined the fray — should be a no-brainer, proponents say. Why, don’t you know that forging more hemispheric trading ties will be your only hope against putting up even a modest challenge against the Great Dragon? Being able to ship your goods to Central America for assembly and shipment back to the United States is a good thing, is it not? Otherwise, your customers will leave Honduras, Guatemala, et al, and pack up for the Far East. And take their order books with them. You want a China link, there’s your China link.

But not so fast, you Neanderthal textile producers say. There’s another China link — as in “weakest” and as in “chain.” It’s hard to get behind something that benefits non-signatory countries (read: China). Look it up, and you’ll see that the agreement includes such words as “tariff preference levels,” “cumulation” and “single transformation.” Street name: “loopholes.” All of these are exceptions to the rules and could lead to even more troubles for your industry, you argue.

So here we go again: The U.S. government pushing for globalization, with the textile industry splotching up the windshield of free trade, in need of being squeegied away.

China? Chunk (as in “market share” and as in “out of your you-know-what.”)

Textile News Index