Innovative Spinners Look For Opportunities
Jim Phillips, Yarn Market Editor
As 2014 nears the midpoint, spinners in the Western Hemisphere continue to enjoy robust business conditions, although the profile of the average order has changed.
“We are staying busy, running a full schedule and continuing to get inquiries,” commented one spinner. “But it is mostly different than it has been in the past. We do not have a lot of large programs. We do not have deep pipeline. But small and specialty orders keep coming in at a brisk pace. There is nothing to complain about at all. But, then again, we can’t look out six months from now and be reasonably certain where the business is going to come from.”
Another spinner added: “Ring-spun remains strong, as it has been for quite some time. For open-end, it seems that it is all over the place, especially with pricing. But, overall, demand continues to be stronger this year than what we have seen over the past few years.”
Of particular interest for a number of spinners is the continued growth in blends. “We are seeing more and more orders for blends come in, and some of these have been from customers that have previously had positions only in 100-percent cotton.” He continued, “For a while, we thought the strength in blends was primarily a result of volatility in the cotton market. But cotton prices have remained relatively stable for a good while now. It seems that end customers are embracing blends because of the combination of properties — comfort, ease of care and such. And now more and more companies are specifying blends — 60/40 or even 50/50.”
One prominent yarn maker noted that, along with blends, there has been a significant increase in specialty yarn orders for the apparel sector. “It seems that everyone wants something unique, something that will create a sense of differentiation among consumers. Our business in this arena has been stronger the past few months than it has been in quite a while. So it keeps us focused on developing new products with properties that meet our customers’ needs. Our industry is enjoying a resurgence in the world marketplace because of innovation, and if we are to continue to grow our position, we will need to allocate even more resources to making sure we can create products that set us apart from mills in the rest of the world.”
Building on the concept of differentiated specialty products, one spinner noted that the development of a product that fills a previously unmet need is an absolute necessity for smaller spinners trying to compete with global giants. “We have to be willing to develop products that nobody else will because of their relatively small volume. But, at the same time, such products can and do command a price premium. We have to change over a lot, but our margins remain good because we are doing what others either can’t or won’t.”
It wasn’t so long ago that many pundits considered the textile industry in America as a sunset industry. But, because of the aforementioned focus on innovation, as well as the increasing willingness of U.S. spinners to compete globally, the past few years have seen a remarkable turnaround in how knowledgeable observers view the industry.
“It was hard for old-school mill executives to realize that you don’t just start up and run as much and fast as you can,” said an industry observer. “Today, success requires a commitment to innovation, quality and service.”
As a result, in just the past year, a number of new U.S. facilities have been announced, accounting for more than $750 million in investment. Observed one yarn broker, “We have finally reached the point where the textile industry in the United States is once again a growth industry. Barring unforeseen circumstances or unwise trade decisions by our government, it looks like we are going to see a sustained trend toward growth. It is an exciting time to be in the business.”
Cotton Prices Remain Stable
Spot cotton quotations remained relatively stable over the past month, averaging 79.66 cents per pound during the week ended June 5 for the base quality of cotton — color 41, leaf 4, staple 34, mike 3.5-3.6 and 4.3-4.9, strength 27.0-28.9, uniformity 81.0-81.9. This is up from 78.70 cents per pound reported for the corresponding period a year ago.
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