Latest casualty: Thomaston Mills

Week of June 25, 2001

GA company files Chapter 11,
warns of potential closure

THOMASTON, GA — Thomaston Mills became the latest casualty of the textile industry downturn.

On June 15, the 102-year-old company laid off about 540 employees at its Peerless facility here and announced that it plans to shut down by August 1 if a buyer is not found. Four days later, last Tuesday, Thomaston filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Officials for the maker of sheets, pillowcases and comforters blamed the company’s woes on tough competition, two years of losses and high debt.

The decision to file a Chapter 11 petition was “extremely difficult,” A. William Ott, acting president and CEO, said in a statement. “But we believe it is the only alternative that may provide the breathing space and relief necessary to find a purchaser for the company, or, if none can be found, an orderly wind-down of the company’s operations.”


First impressions

DuPont opens Technology Center

By Alfred Dockery

CHARLOTTE, NC — DuPont last month officially opened its Artistri™ Technology Center (ATC) here.

The 12,000-square-foot center is the global demonstration center for the company’s Artistri technology and the DuPont Ink Jet 3210 printer.

Kathleen Hall, director of sales and marketing for DuPont Ink Jet, cut the ribbon opening the facility and gave participants an overview of current technology and a glimpse of what the future may hold for digital textile printing.

“Short-run (ink-jet) textile printing, we believe, is here,” Hall said. “Our belief is that ink-jet printing will become the preferred method of production printing of textiles. Our strategy is to develop the inks and software to enable digital production printing of textiles. That is what you will find in our Artistri brand.”

Kathleen Hall, director of sales and marketing for DuPont Ink Jet, officially opens the DuPont Aristri™ Technology Center. Looking on (L-R) are Colin Davie, Walter Kleinberg, John Kane, Michael Raymond, Michael Compton, Dennis Lance, Martin Redding and Marco Torri.

Initial offerings are aimed squarely at the home furnishings market, using pigment inks developed for cotton and cotton blend fabrics. This is just the first step in DuPont’s overall plans for digital textile ink jet printing.

The company plans to open additional technology centers worldwide as the digital printing business grows. It also plans to branch out into the apparel market next year.

“Our second offering will be launched mid- to late-2002,” Hall said. “We will target the apparel market. The challenge there will be the diverse fabrics. Our aim will be production printing with a 1.8-meter printable width. We are going to initiate a project to develop textile fibers that are ink-jet receptive, more ink-jet ready and really combine the powers of both of these businesses (DuPont ink jet and DuPont fibers).”

In the news ...

Week of June 25, 2001

Expo Center given support from city

GREENVILLE, SC — Hopes of saving the Palmetto Exposition Center were boosted Wednesday when the Greenville City Council offered to give the fiscally troubled center another $200,000, under certain conditions.

The center is the longtime host of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International (ATME-I) trade shows, whose future is in limbo.

As the June 29 due date set by its major lender approaches, the Expo Center was given the money on the condition that an additional $600,000 come from government and private funds.

Earlier, the city had allocated $200,000 for the center, bringing to $400,000 its total contribution.

Textile Hall Corporation, parent company of the center, owes Bank of America $9.5 million, which has threatened to close the facility if the note isn’t paid by June 29.

Earlier, upon hearing pleas from local merchants, the bank said that it would not foreclose on the facility until at least after the Honda’s Gold Wing Road Riders motorcycle convention concludes on July 7.

Springs employee featured in ad campaign

By Devin Steele

FORT MILL, SC — Springs Industries turned to one of its own to embody its new national print ad campaign and to help raise awareness of breast cancer.

Margaret Pearson, a breast cancer survivor and a weaver instructor at the Springs’ White Plant here, serves as the model in the company’s i dream Springmaid brand campaign.

The company unveiled the ad and introduced Pearson publicly during a press conference at its headquarters here this month.

“We’re very proud to kick off this campaign here at home — not on Wall Street, not on Madison Avenue, but right here,” said Betty Turner, Springs’ vice president of public affairs. “And we’re proud that we have local talent — not national talent — to do this. This is a cause that we all believe in dearly and it’s part of our heritage at Springs, to try to make an impact on the people in the communities where we do business and across the country.”

Pearson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1998 and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She said she is now cancer-free. She was chosen among Springs’ employees to appear in the ad and to advocate the dream for a cure.

Pearson, a 31-year Springs’ employee, lost her husband to lung cancer in 1985.

Industry’s woes undermine U.S. cotton sector: Report

MEMPHIS — A National Cotton Council of America analysis shows that the entire U.S. cotton infrastructure is being undermined because of the U.S. textile industry’s economic crisis.

Dr. Mark Lange, an NCC economist who authored the report, said a surge in imported cotton products to the U.S. has decimated U.S. textile mills.

“The U.S. textile industry is vanishing from our economic landscape,” he said. “This decline not only is harming textile workers and ancillary industries but is damaging our natural fiber producers and the rural economy.”

Lange, who serves as NCC’s vice president, policy analysis and program coordinator, said it is imperative that U.S. agricultural and trade policy recognize the fundamental economic relationship between the U.S. textile and cotton production sectors and “discover policies that can address the imbalances wrought by external economic forces or distortions in foreign industrial policies that damage U.S. manufacturing and agricultural interests.”

The report noted that U.S. mill cotton use, which declined from 11.4 million bales in 1997 to 9.5 million bales in 2000, is projected at only 8.5 million bales for 2001. This reduction comes as imports of foreign-manufactured textile and apparel products made from foreign cottons are growing at a staggering rate. These averaged 5.6 million bale equivalents between 1993 and 1996, but soared to 10.6 million bale equivalents in 2000.

Lange said the decline in U.S. mill demand for raw cotton directly affects the economic health of the other U.S. cotton industry sectors, as the industry’s infrastructure is dependent on the volume of business conducted between these sectors. U.S. cotton prices also have fallen amid this usage decline.

Earlier this month, the futures price of cotton is 41 cents, just one-half of the value at the time the 1995 farm law was passed.

DuPont plans to sell parts of U.S. polyester businesses

WILMINGTON, DE — DuPont announced June 14 that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell certain of its U.S. polyester businesses and manufacturing assets to Alpek, the petrochemical group of Mexican industrial conglomerate ALFA S. A. de C.V. (ALFA).

DuPont has agreed to sell to Alpek its U.S. terephthalic acid (TPA) business and its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) container resins business, along with their associated manufacturing assets at the Cape Fear site in Wilmington, NC, and the Cedar Creek site in Fayetteville, NC.

DuPont said it also has agreed with Alpek to exit the companies’ polyester staple fiber joint venture by mid-2002.

Alpek will also buy polyester polymerization facilities at the Cape Fear site and at the Cooper River site, located in Charleston, SC. DuPont will grant licenses to Alpek for manufacturing technology of PET resins and the use of the Melinar® and Laser® brands in the Americas region.

DuPont said it expects to take a one-time charge of 15 to 17 cents to earnings in the second quarter.

Burlington to sell mats unit to Ronile

GREENSBORO, NC — Burlington Industries announced last week that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its decorative mats business to Ronile, Inc.

The sale is subject to normal closing requirements, which are expected to be complete by the end of the month, Burlington said.

The decorative mats business is marketed under the Bacova® name. The Bacova Guild, Ltd. is located in Low Moor and Bath County, VA.

“This has been a good business for us and we are confident that the Bacova® brand will lead Ronile into new and exciting markets,” said George W. Henderson III, chairman and CEO of Burlington. “The sale of this operation completes the divestiture of the Burlington House Floor Accents division.”

The action is in line with Burlington’s initiatives to reduce debt and focus resources on its core businesses, Henderson added.

Ronile, a supplier of custom-dyed accent yarns, is based in Rocky Mount, VA.

Hoyne’s retirement commemorated

NEW YORK CITY — Marjorie Hoyne last month was honored at a dinner party commemorating her retirement as president of the Spectrum Fabrics division of Covington Industries.

The private dinner party was attended by her colleagues, family and friends and was hosted by Abby Gilmore, president and chief executive officer, Covington Industries.

Hoyne’s retirement was effective May 31.

Hoyne had been named president and creative director of Spectrum Fabrics when the division was acquired by Covington Industries in 1994.

Liebenow elected vice chair

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Chamber of Commerce board of directors has elected Larry A. Liebenow, president, CEO and director of the Quaker Fabric Corporation, as vice chairman for 2001-2002.

Quaker Fabric, located in Fall River, MA., is one of the largest producers of upholstered fabrics in the world and sells its products in some 45 countries.

“Larry brings a good combination of business expertise, political insight and broad international experience to this position,” said Thomas J. Donohue, Chamber president and CEO. “He will be an excellent advocate for the Chamber on pro-business issues and policies.”

As vice chairman, Liebenow will work with Donohue and new Chairman Steve Van Andel of Alticor, Inc., to advance the Chamber’s pro-business agenda.

Glen Raven tournament raises
$32,000 for cancer research

MEBANE, NC — The Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research “Twister” golf tournament, hosted by Glen Raven, took place recently at Mill Creek Golf and Country Club.

This marked the eighth straight year that Glen Raven has hosted this event to raise money for cancer research. The event is sponsored by textile-related corporations that make a donation to the V Foundation and provide players for the tournament.

This year 31 companies contributed to the event, providing a net result of nearly $32,000 to be donated to the V Foundation, created by late N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano.

Sponsoring companies were Acordis Fibers, Apollo Chemical, American Truetzschler, Bayer/Sybron, ACC Sales, Boehme Filatex, Burlington Chemical, Cavalier Textiles/Andy Symmes, Cheraw Yarns, CIT Group, Cognis Corporation, Day International, Custom Fabrics, Four Leaf Textiles, GMAC Financial, Glen Raven Yarns, Glen Raven Glentouch, Herman Reeves Sheet Metal, Marzoli/PSP Marketing, Midway Airlines, Morgan Mechanical, Moroil Technologies, Mount Vernon Mills, R & M Textiles, TST, Inc., Smurfit-Stone Container, Solutia Fibers, Sonoco, Universal Fibers, Waverly Mills and Wellman, Inc.

Delta Apparel raises warning flag for 4Q

DULUTH, GA — T-shirt and sweatshirt maker Delta Apparel, Inc. said last week that its earnings would fall short of expectations for the fourth fiscal quarter due to pricing pressures amid weaker-than-anticipated demand in the activewear market.

The company said it expects fourth quarter earnings of $1 to $1.18 per share. This would result in basic earnings per share of $3.94 to $4.12 for fiscal year 2001, down from earlier expectations.

The lower-than-expected earnings are primarily the result of pricing declines in the activewear market, along with an increase in operating cost due to manufacturing curtailments to lower inventory levels and a charge related to the closing of the Washington, GA, sewing facility announced this month, the company said.

“While we are disappointed in the lower-than-expected results for the fourth quarter of this fiscal year, our unit volume has remained strong despite the weak economy,” said Robert W. Humphreys, president and CEO. “We believe our company can continue to grow profitably during the upcoming year.”

Dan River revises second quarter outlook

DANVILLE, VA — Dan River, Inc. said Wednesday that weak demand for its home fashions products and apparel fabrics will bring about losses wider than expected in the second quarter.

This weakness was particularly acute in some of the higher margin products, the company said. Accordingly, the company said it now anticipates that it will incur a loss in the range of 25 to 30 cents per basic share in the quarter, down from the 10 to 15 range it had predicted in April.

Dan River lost $6.5 million in the first quarter, or 30 cents per diluted share.

Levi Strauss reports decline

SAN FRANCISCO — Levi Strauss & Co. last week reported a net income decline of 4 percent and a sales decrease of 9.1 percent for the second quarter.

Income slipped to $43 million from $45 million for the same period last year on sales of $1.04 billion, which were down from $1.14 billion.

“The anemic U.S. and Japanese retail markets clearly affected our sales results,” said Philip Marineau, the company’s president and CEO. “Regardless, we are making significant improvements in our products, service levels, customer relations and retail presentation worldwide.

“In fact, our European business is starting to turn the corner, with sales growth this quarter by 5 percent on a constant-currency basis. We are getting great results when our products, retail merchandising and supply-chain initiatives all come together in a strengthening denim market, which is the case in Europe right now.”

Editorial

Week of June 25, 2001

Poison ivy, lawd’ll make you itch ...

YOU CAN’T PICK UP this newspaper — or any newspaper, for that matter — without having to take the bad with the good.

Fortunately, the good news is putting up a good fight.

Unfortunately, the bad news is as bad as it wants to be.

Take this issue, for instance:

Good news: DuPont shows signs of life in the industry by opening a printing Technology Center.

Bad news: Time-honored but troubled Thomaston Mills files for bankruptcy protection and is left for dead.

Good news: Springs Industries is helping to raise cancer awareness through its Springmaid ad campaign, which features one of its manufacturing employees.

Bad news: Delta Apparel and Dan River both said they will fall short of its earlier predictions during this fiscal quarter.

Good news: Glen Raven hosts a golf tournament that raises $32,000 for the V Foundation for cancer research.

Bad news: The Palmetto Expo Center, current home of the American Textile Machinery Exhibition-International, may be forced by its lender to shut its doors in a couple of weeks.

And so it goes each week.

Our job here at “Textile News Central” is to pick these flowery newsmakers, along with the weeds, and make the arrangement as presentable as possible. Roots and all.

These days, your weekly bouquet of textile news smells of wisteria and wild onions. And, some weeks, the wild onions can be overpowering.

ALONG THOSE LINES, the curious juxtaposition of good news/bad news often raises readers’ eyebrows, along with our own. For instance, you may occasionally find a headline blaring “790 lose jobs” under a photo of smiling executives standing in front of palm trees. Or, you may notice an article about the impact of imports with the dateline, “HAMILTON, BERMUDA,” where the group that issued the report has gathered. Also, you may scratch your head when you see industry representatives and their spouses gathered at some swanky resort and dressed to the nines and wonder how their businesses are doing.

But that’s the nature of this beast we call the news biz. Certainly, we have the option of omitting unfavorable news or information that evokes negative perceptions. And we have the luxury of arranging items in such a way as to downplay pessimism.

But that ain’t what we do. We let you sort through the cluster and make your own judgments.

THE DESTRUCTION of this industry certainly is nothing to sneeze at. It’s terrible, repulsive, tragic, distressing and depressing. But life goes on.

Some of you probably think textile industry reps should all go to work, go home and worry themselves to sleep. That they should never vacation, never meet with peers or never pick up a golf club again — at least not until this industry is on the upswing.

Amid good news, the business world is full of bad news, too — but it’s not life or death.

Like cancer.